for this game

Japan hopes to dethrone Germany in quarters

Jul 8, 2011 - 9:11 PM Wolfsburg, Germany (Sports Network) - Japan manager Norio Sasaki realized that Germany would likely await in the quarterfinals of the Women's World Cup after a loss to England, but he remained unfazed about the team's goal.

"This was certainly a positive experience for the future," Sasaki said after a 2-0 loss to England in the last round of group games, "and one which will help us if we are to attain our goal of reaching the final."

If Japan takes the first - gigantic - step Saturday at Volkswagen-Arena in the quarterfinals against Germany, it could easily go down at the biggest upset in Women's World Cup history.

Two-time defending champion and host Germany hit its stride in the final match in group play, beating France 4-2 to win Group A and cement its status as the team to beat this summer.

"You could see we wanted to win at all costs and now we've got the confidence to face a very strong Japan side in the quarterfinals," Germany coach Silvia Neid said.

Even with Birgit Prinz benched, Germany scored four goals without the all-time leading scorer in World Cup history. Prinz still sits on 14 goals in World Cup play, a record that Brazil's Marta has in sight with 12 goals.

Whether Neid leaves Prinz, a former three-time world player of the year, and her 128 international goals on the bench again is unknown.

But Germany proved it doesn't need her to win. Inka Grings received her first start this summer against France and had two goals.

"The team has found its feet now, and that will do us all good," Grings said.

Although there were some problems defensively, as France scored both its goals on set pieces, the Germans also looked solid in the back.

"I thought our defense was really good today and our attack was fantastic," Neid said. "Unfortunately we didn't concentrate on set-pieces, as the two goals we conceded prove."

Japan goalkeeper Yuki Nagasato believed her team was ready for the challenge.

"Germany may be big and strong, but that doesn't matter to me," Nagasato said. "In football, size is not necessarily important. We just have to think about how we want to play against them.

"I look forward to playing them."