Former Seattle Reign midfielder Naho Kawasumi joins her teammates from Japan in a Women's World Cup semifinal match against an England team in their first-ever World Cup semifinal. The winner will face Team USA on Sunday in the final on Sunday.
Today's match kicks off at 4:00 p.m. and will air on Fox Sports 1.
What to Watch
Japan, reigning World Cup champions, move the ball around with both patience and aggression, dominating possession and allowing the play to build before unleashing their attack in an instant. They are one of the most fun teams to watch due to their ability to move the ball around so effortlessly and wear down opponents.
England's outside backs are going to be tested today, as Naho Kawasumi was driving Australia crazy with her runs down the right, with Japanese left back Aya Sameshima remaining an attacking threat as well. England is going to need a strong performance from both Claire Rafferty and Lucy Bronze if they want to stay in the match. So far, Bronze — who has been one England's best players — has proven she's up to the task.
While they haven't lost yet this tournament, Japan can be beat. Their 4-4-2 formation often morphs into a 3-4-3, which can leave Japan vulnerable to the counter attack. Australian wingers Sam Kerr and Lisa De Vanna were able to get in behind the Japanese defense a few times, and England could do the same today. England's Jodie Taylor, who scored the opening goal against Canada, has the pace to give Japan some problems.
England will also need to find a way to disrupt Japan's rhythm, something no team has successfully done yet. Here is the good news for the Lionesses: England is unbeaten in their three previous matches against Japan, with one victory and two draws. They were the only team to defeat Japan in the 2011 World Cup. Fara Williams, England's most-capped player, will be key to their effort.
This should be another exciting match, and in just a few hours, the U.S. will know who stands between them and their first World Cup trophy in 16 years.
How to Watch
This is your Japan v. England gamethread. Watch and discuss with us.