Japan and U.S. set for spicy World Cup final rematch
By Steve Keating
VANCOUVER (Reuters) - The United States arrive at the Women's World Cup final battle-hardened and seeking revenge, while Japan enter Sunday's match determined to retain the trophy they denied the Americans four years ago.
It all adds up to a spicy finale to the global showcase that began on June 6 under the shadow of a FIFA corruption scandal but ends with the players in the spotlight and an intriguing contest that is set to cap off a month of record-smashing television ratings and attendance figures.
Another capacity crowd of over 50,000 is expected to fill BC Place and once again most of those will be flag-waving, face painted Americans who have poured across the Canadian border to support their girls, who start firm favorites with the bookmakers.
Downtown Vancouver was awash in red, white and blue on Friday as smiling packs of American fans began a weekend of partying they hope will culminate with the U.S. hoisting the trophy for a record third time following victories in 1991 and 1999.
"These are two talented teams with a lot of history and rivalry and I think it will be a classic match-up," said U.S. coach Jill Ellis.
"Both teams have a lot of the same players from 2011, but that said, this is a different team on a different journey and I know all 23 players and our staff are tremendously excited for this next challenge."
The final will offer a fascinating contrast of styles and personalities as different as the two nations -- the big, brash, athletic Americans who take a very direct approach on the field facing a clinical Japanese side that relies on a clever, short-passing game.
"In 2011, both teams had a wonderful game in the final and for women's soccer in the world, I hope that we will have a wonderful game like the way we did then," said Japan coach Norio Sasaki. Continued...