MONTREAL, Quebec -- The first finalist of the 2015 Women's World Cup will be determined on the field Tuesday in Montreal when Germany faces the United States, but some of the groundwork has already been laid off it.
In an extraordinary broadside at the United States in a meeting Sunday with almost exclusively German journalists, German coach Silvia Neid got the mind games going. These will play just as big a role as the 90 or 120 minutes of action in deciding which team heads to Vancouver and which heads home.
Being forced to reside in the same hotel as their rivals was the main cause of Neid's malaise, and she was not in the mood to shrug off the issue the way she did with her "that's life" answer when asked the same question prior to meeting Sweden and her good friend Pia Sundhage in the round of 16.
The sleeves were rolled up this time, and the gloves were on.
"The USA are so very convinced about themselves," she said. "Americans are naturally loud."
That is in stark contrast to Neid's own personality, as one reporter was keen to point out Monday at the prematch news conference.
"Why do you always look so glum?" the reporter asked.
"Maybe I'm just focused, but I can assure you I'm not unhappy," she said. "So maybe I don't look like I'm relaxing on a sun lounger, but it's nothing to do with being unhappy. Let me have a go at getting my body language a bit better tomorrow."
Now that she has launched the mind games, it is up to her players to do the rest and help her refine a more positive aura -- like how she raced onto the field with arms raised in jubilation and emotions at full flow after Germany's penalty shootout win over France.
She probably would not return to the teams' shared hotel and race through the lobby in such a way, but then again, she might -- just to prove a point.
"It's certainly not appropriate that two teams who are about to meet each other have to share the hotel," Neid said Monday. "It's not just like this in the semifinals. It's been like this the whole tournament.
"For example, it was very uncomfortable for us after we'd beaten Sweden to see them all sad in the hotel and have to share the elevator with them, and it was the same against France. We're about to play against each other in a semifinal, and we're constantly bumping into them. I don't think it's right. No, I don't think it's good."
As far as Nadine Angerer is concerned, Neid should not be so worked up about any of it. It's just part of the Americans' mentality, and you've got to go with it.
"It kind of surprised me to begin with -- they would be losing 4-0 and still firing each other up," said the goalkeeper who also plays with the Portland Thorns in the National Women's Soccer League. "The way they spur themselves on is pretty extreme. The Americans are dancing even before games, and that's something I wasn't used to from Germany.
"It's just the way they are. They have this built-in optimism gene. They believe in themselves right to the end. Just look at the quarterfinals in 2011 in Dresden: They were behind to Brazil, and then Abby Wambach put one in. They really believe in their ability."
Angerer saw that inherent optimism firsthand in Portland with Alex Morgan -- a sparring partner she must stop Tuesday.
"We trained together for a few weeks in Portland, and that was always quite a laugh," Angerer said. "After each training session, we'd have a bit of a battle. She would take some shots at me, and we would imitate it being the 90th minute of the World Cup final.
"But now it's the semifinal of the World Cup. Now it's serious."
Forty-five thousand tickets have been sold for the game in Montreal's Olympic Stadium, and most fans are likely to have crossed the border to cheer on the United States.
Germany has already seen the enthusiasm of the U.S. fans gathered outside the teams' Montreal hotel, and the atmosphere in the stadium is likely to be hostile toward the German players -- unless history repeats itself.
Angerer remembers back to the 2003 semifinal and a historic win for Germany, led by Kerstin Garefrekes, Maren Meinert and Birgit Prinz.
"I can remember it well," Angerer said. "It was in the stadium I play in with the Portland Thorns now. I was sitting on the bench back then, but I was still totally pooped after this game. There were 30,000 Americans and about 30 Germans, and when we made it 3-0, it went totally silent, and I could only hear those 30 Germans.
"It was a phenomenal game. The USA were regarded as unbeatable in women's soccer. We sent out a signal with that win, yet they still dominated the women's soccer rankings for a decade. And they've kept that high ranking."
The American's rank is not as high now as it was then, though, and that was something else Neid was keen to recall.
"I don't think they're happy about having to play against us," she said. "The fact we're world No. 1 and not them riles them a bit.
"We know the USA want to be No. 1 again, but that's where we are now, and we want to ensure it stays that way."
The battle has commenced.