China’s loss to Germany to open World Cup wasn’t surprising. But this decision was

China opened the 2019 Women’s World Cup with a 1-0 loss to Germany on Saturday in Rennes, France. That’s not surprising, considering Germany entered the tournament ranked No. 2 in the world.

What was surprising was the fact that Wang Shuang was left out of China’s starting 11. Taking a more defensive approach, China opted to play the entire first half without its star striker before subbing her in to begin the second half.

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Shuang, who left China to play for Paris Saint-Germain last year, played the entire second half. The 24-year-old, who was named the 2018 Chinese Footballer of the Year, did not get a shot off against Germany but did pick up a yellow card in the 71st minute.

Leading up to the World Cup, Chinese head coach Jia Xiuquan made it clear one of his goals was to make sure Shuang is healthy and fit enough to make an impact. There has been no discussion about an injury to Shuang.

China faces South Africa on Thursday at 3 p.m. EST in its second match of the group stage. South Africa opens the World Cup on Saturday at Noon EST against Spain.

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Anthony Chiang covers the Miami Heat for the Miami Herald. He attended the University of Florida and was born and raised in Miami.