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Stats That Could Win Or Lose The Women's World Cup Final

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World Cup finals preview

ESPN FC's Kate Markgraf looks ahead to the FIFA Women's World Cup finals match between the United States and Japan.

The Women's World Cup concludes with Sunday's final between the United States and Japan, a rematch of the 2011 final and the first repeat final in tournament history. The United States can be the first country to win three Women's World Cup titles, while defending champion Japan can be the second country to win consecutive titles.

Here's a closer look at some of the important statistics and players heading into Sunday's anticipated finale.

Head-to-head history

* This is a rubber match of sorts, as Japan won the 2011 Women's World Cup title over the United States on penalties, and the U.S. beat Japan a year later in the Olympic final.

* The United States has lost only once in 31 meetings with Japan, and the sole defeat wasn't the 2011 final, which officially ended as a draw. Japan's win was a 1-0 triumph in the 2012 Algarve Cup group stage.

* The United States went undefeated (22-0-3) in its first 25 meetings with Japan before the 2011 final. Since then, the U.S. is only 2-1-3 in the series.

* In those first 25 meetings, the United States scored 3.1 goals per game, compared to Japan's 0.5 goals per game. In its last six games, the U.S. averaged 1.7 goals to Japan's 1.2 goals.

How they got here

* Since conceding a goal to Australia in the 27th minute of its first match, the United States hasn't allowed a goal in 513 minutes, 28 minutes from breaking the single-tournament record set by Germany in 2007. The U.S. is the third team to allow one goal or fewer en route to reaching the final, and both of the other teams won the title (2007 Germany and 1995 Norway).

* The U.S. defense has limited dangerous shots for opponents, conceding a mere 11 shots on goal in six games and only 21 total shots from inside the penalty area, both in the top four in the tournament on a per game basis. The U.S. has also conceded the second-lowest percentage of shots from inside the penalty area (38 percent). Compare that to the U.S. offense, which leads the tournament by taking 72 percent of its shots in the box.

* The U.S. changed formations in the semifinals to get more players in midfield against a potent Germany team. The result was that the U.S. had 16 tackles and 17 interceptions in the middle third of the field against Germany, both tournament highs for the United States.

* The U.S. defense and midfield shut down Germany in the final third of the field. Germany completed 56 percent of its passes in the attacking third against the U.S., compared to 67 percent in its first five games.

* As expected, Japan has completed the most passes and has the best completion rate of any team in the tournament. The Nadeshiko have also completed a tournament-high 61 percent of passes in the attacking third, and they rank fourth in the tournament with 58 percent possession.

* The road to the final hasn't been easy for Japan, which is the first team to win six games by exactly one goal at a Women's World Cup. England broke up Japan's passing rhythm in the semis, in part with physicality. Japan was fouled 17 times, its most in a game at this tournament. Japan had its second-fewest passes completed (365) and second-worst completion percentage (74 percent) of the tournament, and its three chances created were also its worst in the six games leading up to the final.

U.S. players to watch

* Golden Ball finalist Carli Lloyd has scored in all three knockout games, becoming the third American to score in three straight games in a Women's World Cup (Abby Wambach in 2011 and 2003; Michelle Akers in 1991). No American has scored in four straight Women's World Cup games.

* Lloyd scored both U.S. goals in the 2012 Olympic gold medal game (a 2-1 win over Japan), and the sole goal in the 2008 gold-medal game (1-0 over Brazil). No American has scored in three major tournament finals (Wambach could score in her third on Sunday).

* Lloyd was moved to her more natural attacking midfield position for the past two games, and she's flourished, with five chances created, compared to one in the first four games. She also had five shots and 28 attacking-third touches in her past two games, compared to seven shots and 36 attacking-third touches in her first four games.

* Fellow Golden Ball finalist Megan Rapinoe has two goals, and she leads the team with 12 chances created, including 10 from crosses. Her 138 attacking-third touches are 42 more than any teammate, despite missing a game because of a yellow-card suspension. She also leads the team with 13 fouls drawn, nine of them coming in the attacking half of the field.

* This will be the final Women's World Cup game for 35-year-old Wambach, who has said she'll decide next year whether or not to play in the 2016 Olympics. Sunday would be her 25th Women's World Cup match, which would move her into sole possession of second on the career list behind Kristine Lilly (30).

* Wambach's 14 Women's World Cup goals are one shy of Marta's career record, and her seven goals in the knockout stage are second only to Akers' eight.

The value of experience

* The United States and Japan are the two oldest teams in Women's World Cup history. The U.S. has an average age of 29.4 years, and Japan's average age is 28.3 years.

* Between the two rosters, 31 players are back from the 2011 Women's World Cup, including 24 who played in the final. All four players who scored in the 2011 final could play Sunday: Alex Morgan and Wambach for the U.S., and Aya Miyama and Homare Sawa for Japan.

Who's the favorite?

The United States is a 67 percent title favorite, according to FiveThirtyEight's WSPI, and the odds are similar at most sportsbooks. However, WSPI had the U.S. as a 69 percent favorite to win the title in 2011, when Japan came from behind twice and won on penalties.