USA vs. Korea DPR
Rudolf-Harbig Stadium, Dresden, Germany
In a few hours, Abby Wambach and company finally get to open their World Cup account after a long hard journey that took them through the playoffs. Their opponents are no rollovers.
In a strange twist, the DPR Korea are familiar group stage foes having met the USA in three previous World Cups with the last one a 2-2 draw in 2007. The Koreans in that match were able to capitalize on Abby Wambach's injury absence off the pitch to score two quick goals before Heather O'Reilly righted the ship with her equalizer.
The other two were also tough affairs with the USA not closing out till the second half. If those matches are any indication of what lies ahead then expect the hard running Koreans to come out of the gate with lots of tough tackles to try and disrupt the USA's passing game. But they're more than that so expect lots of smart and sharp possession with their own pressing game. The US defense will have to maintain their shape.
Hope Solo knows a few things about their opponents and outlines the US tactics of containment and counterattack.
Group C is acknowledged as the group of death with Sweden and Colombia providing a depth of talent. The Swedes in particular have had a measure of success against the USA. The Colombians are dark horses but should be considered serious opposition with 9 players on their roster from their fourth placed U20 squad. Which means the USA can ill afford any slack against the Koreans. Three points is virtually essential.