by Sylvain Jamet
The FIFA Women’s World Cup knock-out stage is upon us and there are some big games straight into the last 16 round with Germany v Sweden being the pick of those games played between Saturday and Tuesday.
[World rankings in brackets]
Saturday 20 June
Germany (1) v Sweden (5)
This is the big game of the round. Germany won their group as expected, but Sweden failed to win a game in theirs and ended up with three draws and being one of the best third placed teams. Hence, they have been rewarded with a tough game in the knock-out stage.
Germany are obviously favourites with so many attacking options available to them ( Mittag, Popp, Sasic) to name just three, but Sweden, with Schelin and Jakobsson, their midfield general Seger and Chelsea’s goalkeeper Lindhal might be able to upset them.
China PR (16) v Cameroon (3)
China were runners-up in Group A behind Canada while Cameroon were runner-up in Group C. This is a big achievement for the African nation and they have been a breath of fresh air with their attacking display in their first ever World Cup. Onguene and Nchout are their most dangerous weapons and they might create an upset to reach the last eight of the competition.
Sunday 21 June
Brazil (7) v Australia (10)
Brazil went thorugh their group with three wins while Australia made it out of the Group Of Death in second place which is remarkable. Brazil have not conceded so far and managed to have a good World Cup preparation in comparison to the previous competition’s shambles with long training camps available to them this time. It might be their year but they need to be wary of Australia’s pace up front especially with De Vanna able to create and score goals.
France (3) v Korea Republic (18)
France are one of the pre-tournament favourites and should be able to win this tie, but we saw against Colombia that they are very fragile mentally when the opposition take the lead. This is due to many years of underachievement and lack of clinical finishing that creates a mental block. Korea Republic, led by Chelsea Ladies brilliant playmaker So-Yun, will certainly be looking for an upset.
Canada (8) v Switzerland (19)
The home country against the World Cup debutant should see Canada progress, although there are question marks about the players being able to handle the pressure. Switzerland with their attacking players like Crnogorcevic, Bachmann and Dickenmann will certainly be a strong test for Canada’s defence. Another possible upset here.
Monday 22 June
Norway (11) v England (6)
A tough game for Mark Sampson’s England. His team has shown a lot of adaptability to the opposition and his willingness to chop and change for every game has allowed him to use all his outfield players and keep them fresh for the knock-out stage. Norway are a solid opponent with an experienced coach in Pellerud and a forward that has been on fire for her club the whole season in Hegerberg.
USA (2) V Colombia (28)
In theory this should be an easy win for the USA but their attacking creativity has not been brilliant so far. Colombia can frustrate an opponent and will certainly apply the same gameplan that brought them a win against France. They will defend and try to get something on the break and also kick the opposition if needed. The longer they prevent the USA from scoring the bigger their chance to qualify because they will struggle to switch to an attacking style of football and they will be hit on the break by the US pace up front with Leroux, Morgan or Press.
Tuesday 23 June
Japan (4) v Netherlands (12)
The holders against another newcomer. Classic ball possession orientated attacking style against as side with raw attacking talent like Martens, Spitse, Melis or the 19-year-old Bayern Munich forward Anna Mediema who I remember came up against our own wunderkid Carla Humphrey a few season ago in a u15 friendly played in Leicester. The holders should prevail but it will be tight especially if Netherlands have their shooting boots on.