The Women’s World Cup is in full swing now, and with the conclusion of the group stages comes the business end of the competition. For the most part, the favoured teams have made it out of their groups and this is when the competition will come alive. Fans’ have been engrossed by the action thus far, and that looks set to continue with the dazzling games we have witnessed so far during this tournament.
Germany vs. Nigeria
The opening game of the round of 16 stage will see the heavily fancied German side looking to continue their unbeaten run. They easily managed to navigate group B by winning all three of their games against Spain, China and South Korea. In the process, they scored six goals and didn’t concede. It is certainly an uphill battle for Nigeria. They are one of the final African contenders left standing, and their sole win over South Korea was enough for them to reach this stage. It seems unlikely that they will be able to stop the German machine, and Sara Daebritz will likely put Nigeria to the sword.
Norway vs Australia
One of the closest matchups at this stage will see the Norwegians attempt to knock out the free-scoring Australia. Aside from the USA, no other team has scored more than Australia and that has largely been down to the form of Sam Kerr. The star scored all four goals in their group stage win against Jamaica; a win which ensured that her side finished second on goal difference. Norway will present a stiffer test for the Aussies, but they should have enough to squeeze into the next round.
England vs Cameroon
The Lionesses seem to be warming up to the task of delivering a first World Cup to England since 1966. They saved their best performance of the group stage for the last game against Japan. With Ellen White scoring twice to eradicate the memories from their painful semi-final defeat the hands of the Japanese in the last World Cup. There will be concerns for Phil Neville however, as his team have been wasteful in front of goal throughout the competition. Cameroon will be coming into the fixture high on confidence after the manner in which they qualified for this stage. However, England should have too much for their opponents.
France vs Brazil
There could be a classic in store for football fans between France and Brazil. The hosts have progressed through the competition smoothly so far but they haven’t faced a team of the calibre as Brazil. Martha gained all the headlines for the Brazilians in the group stage as she broke the all-time World Cup record for goals scored. However, the vulnerability of Brazil in defence means that the French will probably outscore them in the fixture.
Spain vs USA
There may be a long way to go in the World Cup, but the USA remains the team to beat. They had progressed through the group stage effortlessly. The produced big wins against Chile and Thailand, before swatting aside Sweden; in a fixture that they were meant to be in danger of losing. Spain have been steady in the competition so far, as they finished second behind Germany in group B. However, they don’t score nearly enough goals to stand a chance against the USA, and it could be another big win for Jill Ellis’ side.
Sweden vs Canada
This is a fixture between two teams that would be considered as dark horses to win the World Cup and could be an intriguing battle. Both teams ended their group stages with six points out of a possible nine. The Swedish attacking threat has been undeniable thus far, as they have scored seven goals. Meanwhile, Canada has a tight defence that could keep the Swedes at bay. With that being said, it looks likely the Swedes will outscore their opponents.
Italy vs China
The Italians have left a lasting impression of the football world throughout this competition so far. They are yet to establish a professional division in the country, which just highlights the potential that they have. The finished top of Group C ahead of the Australian and Brazilian teams and could prove a problem for the best teams in the competition. China look unable to compete with their rivals in this fixture, and the Italians should progress comfortably.
Netherlands vs Japan
The European champions have been faultless so far throughout the World Cup. They haven’t really been given a chance by the experts, but that could change if they continue playing the way they are. Japan don’t look like the same animal that reached the semi-finals in the last World Cup, and that could mean they are handed a heavy defeat against this vibrant Dutch side.