This is it. The big one.
On Tuesday the U.S. women’s national team face Germany in their World Cup semifinal in Montreal, (Watch live, 6:30 p.m. ET on En Vivo Extra) as the nation waits to see if the USWNT can reach the final.
[ MORE: Krieger facing familiar foes ]
With the top two teams in the world squaring off, head coach Jill Ellis knows she must get her tactics spot on to get past the dominant German side who have so far scored 20 goals and conceded just four times at the 2015 tournament in Canada.
A crowd of close to 50,000 is expected in Montreal’s Olympic stadium, with this game billed by many as closer to call than any potential World Cup final for either of these teams against fellow semifinalists Japan or England would be.
The USWNT will face its toughest test of the World Cup, and here is a great piece of tactical analysis from NBC Sports’ Jeff Kassouf on how Ellis can set up her side to prevail and reach its fourth World Cup final in seven attempts.
You can read Kassouf’s tactical preview of the U.S. vs. Germany in full over at NBC SportsWorld, the home of longform on NBCSports.com.
Over to Jeff…
Her [Jill Ellis] biggest dilemma is in the center of the park, where Lloyd and Holiday both want to push higher into the attack and are both best-suited in a more forward role. “Heck yeah,” Holiday said of her enjoyment of playing higher in the midfield in the final minutes against Colombia. The joy was palpable.
But together, Lloyd and Holiday have struggled to find any sort of rhythm alternating between the role.
I asked Ellis on Monday whether or not Holiday and Lloyd could co-exist in dual attacking roles. Her response was coy. “We’ll figure it out,” she said, adding in a wink.
Lloyd, Holiday and Brian could, in theory, all be on the field at once with the U.S. playing a hybrid 4-5-1 or 4-4-1-1, allowing Lloyd or Holiday to push on while the other sits underneath with Brian. That’s something similar to what Ellis tried in a match against Brazil last December and again at the end of the victory over Colombia and it would be the only way to get all three players on the field without forcing Brian into an uncomfortable wide role. That may be a risk Ellis will have to take.
“They are both attacking personalities,” Ellis added. “It’s pick and choose the moments, because obviously Germany is a tremendous transition team, so it’s that measure and that balance. But yeah, I think we would like to get them involved in our attack if possible.”
Lloyd, Holiday and Brian could, in theory, all be on the field at once with the U.S. playing a hybrid 4-5-1, allowing Lloyd and Holiday to push on while Brian sits underneath. That’s something similar to what Ellis tried in a match against Brazil last December and again at the end of the victory over Colombia.