Tottenham Hotspur Women take on Japan WE League side Tokyo Verdy Beleza in the 5th place/6th place game of The Women’s Cup in Louisville, Kentucky. You can catch the game at 2:00 Eastern time/7:00 London time on Paramount+ if you’re in the US or on thewomenscup.tv in most other locations.
Tokyo Verdy Beleza formed in 1981, and joined Japan’s WE League as one of the inaugural members in 1989. They’ve won the domestic treble three times, in 2007, 2018, and 2019. They’ve won their division 17 times, most recently in 2019, they’ve won the empress’s cup nearly as many times, most recently in 2020. They’re obviously quite strong in Japan, but they’re still chasing the dominant INAC Kobe at the top.
I’m pretty sure this is Tokyo Verdy Beleza’s preseason too. So unlike Club America whose season was already in full swing, and whose players were at full fitness, they’re still getting into the groove. We can expect Tokyo to play a well-drilled, organized, methodical passing game. They have very distinct patterns of play, which are almost reminiscent of Antonio Conte’s automations.
In their quarterfinal game on Sunday, AC Milan was able to successfully disrupt those patterns with a high press. Rehanne Skinner has been known to put out high pressing sides, so I suspect we’ll be able to do the same. This might be a perfect opportunity for us to give the high press a run out, and practice creating those turnovers and capitalizing on them. You can check out some of the highlights from Tokyo v. Milan below for a better idea of how that went.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE GAME @acmilan vs @tokyo_beleza— The Women's Cup (@thewomenscup) August 15, 2022
⚽ 18’ Valentina Piemonte (18) - AC Milan
⚽ 64' Kosovare Asllani (9) - AC Milan
⚽ 81’ Kosovare Asllani (9) - AC Milan
⚽ 82’ Risa Shimizu (2) - Tokyo Verdy Beleza pic.twitter.com/3J3I8MUgtl
Tokyo will be technically very strong, but they likely won’t be quite as physical as Tottenham or Club America. They may have trouble dealing with Nikola Karczewska up front, who as we saw over the weekend is tall and strong and hard to push around. I’ve said before I’m curious to see whether Nikola Karczewska will contribute headed goals, so if she IS working on adding that to her game, this might be a good time for her to practice.
Make sure you watch out for Risa Shimizu, who’s Tokyo’s right back and by all accounts their best player. Soccer analysis twitter has been abuzz with talk of her skills on the ball, and the absolute banger of a goal she scored against AC Milan. It might be quite fun to see her go up against Ash Neville.
It’s hard to say what we’ll be focusing on for a game like this. We may see some young players who have come on the tour but haven’t stepped the pitch yet, like Gracie Pearse, Lenna Gunning-Williams, and goalkeeper Eleanor Heeps. After Sunday, it’s clear we need to build fitness, and it’s clear we need to work on fine tuning our pressing and passing. No matter what the score, that’s what I’ll be looking for.
A big thank you to my N17 Women cohost Caroline Stefko for sharing her insights on Tokyo Verdy Beleza with me. This preview would’ve been quite short without her.