Calling the finalists for the 2015 Women's World Cup is an almost impossible task given that the first of the semi-finals on Tuesday sees the world's two top-ranked teams go head-to-head.
Germany and the USA meet in Montreal, both two-time winners of the competition and incredibly hard to choose between given the immense quality shared between the sides. Even the bookies have them on a level pegging.
The second semi-final has a slightly more obvious favourite in defending champions Japan, but England will be no pushovers despite never having previously got this far at a World Cup.
Read on for a closer look at both matches, along with scheduling details, odds and bracket predictions.
|Women's World Cup 2015: Semi-final Schedule, Odds|
|Date||Time (ET/BST)||Fixture (odds to advance)|
|June 30||7 p.m./midnight||USA (5-6) vs. Germany (5-6)|
|July 1||7 p.m./midnight||Japan (4-9) vs. England (13-8)|
|Women's World Cup 2015: Bracket Predictions|
|Stage||(Predicted) Fixture||Predicted Result|
|Semi-final||USA vs. Germany||2-1|
|Semi-final||Japan vs. England||1-1 (Japan to win on penalties)|
|Third-place Playoff||England vs. Germany||1-3|
|Final||USA vs. Japan||1-0|
USA vs. Germany
Jill Ellis' USWNT will be confident that they can overcome the Germans in their semi-final. Despite Die Nationalelf's incredible tally of 20 goals in their five matches so far in the tournament, 18 of those came in thrashings of Cote d'Ivoire, Thailand and Sweden.
Against two quality sides—Norway and France—they have managed only 1-1 draws and had to rely on a penalty-shootout victory over Les Bleus to make it to the semi-finals.
USA's defence will be the best Germany have faced so far, goalkeeper Hope Solo having only conceded once so far in the tournament in their 3-1 opening win against Australia.
Anja Mittag and Celia Sasic, the tournament's top scorer, pose a huge threat in attack, but Germany could miss the creative spark of Dzsenifer Marozsan, per Fox Sports 1:
The three previous meetings between these two sides at World Cups have been high-scoring encounters, USA winning the opening pair 5-2 and 3-2 while Germany prevailed 3-0 in 2003.
However, 2015's edition will surely be very tight, and neither side will ease through to the final. However, with their solid defence, USA should have the edge.
If they can put together a complete performance with the likes of Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan and the returning Megan Rapinoe contributing in attack also, it should be USWNT taking their spot in the final.
Japan vs. England
Japan have been flawless in terms of their results in the 2015 Women's World Cup, winning all five of their matches, and they've conceded just twice.
England made a poor start as they lost to France 1-0, but since then they have won 2-1 against Mexico, Colombia, Norway and Canada.
Japan have the experience at this stage of the tournament, which gives them the edge—England's first knockout-round victory at a World Cup came against Norway barely a week ago.
Again, the defensive solidity of the two sides could prove the difference, with the Three Lionesses having failed to keep a clean sheet so far, while the odd mistake has slipped in.
However, going forward, England are dangerous and have been clinical when given the opportunities, thus Japan will have a tough time keeping them out.
A draw in normal time looks a genuine possibility, but the prospect of penalties will not sit well with England given their history in such matters, per Opta:
Japan, on the other hand, beat the USA in 2011's final in a shootout and will have the benefit of experience should a penalty shootout rear its ugly head.
The Japanese are a high-quality side and are deservedly favourites, and though it is sure to be very tight, the reigning champions look set to be given the chance to defend their title in the final.
Prediction: Japan 1-1 England (Japan win on penalties)