My personal blog on Scottish Women's Football
And then there were eight countries. The 2015 Women’s World Cup has reached the Quarter-Final stage, with all knowing they are just two wins away from glory, but one from heartbreak.
Here I preview the upcoming quarter-finals – all the times are in British Summer Time (BST).
A mouthwatering opening tie. The two-time World Champions versus the team that finished 4th in the previous World Cup. This will be only the second time that these two countries have met in the World Cup when Germany beat France 4-2 in the 2011 group stage.
Germany has at times seemed like they have strolled to this stage. They began with a 10-1 demolition of Cote D’Ivoire, drew with Norway 1-1 in a game that they should have won and finally beat Thailand 4-0. In their Last 16 tie against Sweden, they produced another dominant performance winning 4-1. Despite scoring 19 goals in their four matches, there are accusations that Germany have not produced a clinical attacking performance yet. If that is true, then you must fear for any team that plays them.
France, on the other hand, have had a more sketchy route to this stage. Their first game was against an England side that implemented a defensive tactic that frustrated the French, although they won 1-0 due to punishing England for a mistake. And then came the biggest shock so far of the World Cup, when Colombia produced a masterclass to win 2-0. But this seemed to shake the French into life and produced two superb attacking displays to beat Mexico 5-0, and then defeat South Korea 3-0 in their Last 16 tie.
Prediction: Germany Win (3-1)
This quarter-final is the rematch of the 1999 World Cup Final which still holds the record for the highest attendance for a women’s football match – 90,185. On that day, USA was victorious on penalties with Liu Ying missing the penalty that handed the trophy to America. They also met twice in the 1995 World Cup: they drew 3-3 in the group stage and then the USA won 2-0 in the 3rd Place Play-off.
The USA have not looked at their best during this tournament, despite being unbeaten so far. They won their Group of Death, beating Australia 3-1, drew 0-0 with Sweden and narrowly beat Nigeria 1-0. In their Last 16 tie, they overcame Colombia thanks to a red card and a goalkeeper mistake. Their captain Abby Wambach also missed a penalty in the Colombia game only needs to score two more goals to overtake Brazil’s Marta as the World Cup’s top scorer of all time.
China has a youthful squad that has been involved in four tight games. In the tournament’s opening game, they were beaten by Canada thanks to a fortunate last minute penalty. In their second game, they beat Netherlands 1-0 to keep their qualification hopes alive before drawing 2-2 with New Zealand in an exciting game. And in their quarter-final, they overcome the tournament’s surprise package Cameroon in a narrow 1-0 win.
Prediction: USA Win (1-0)
These two countries have yet to meet in the World Cup – but they have met during the AFC Women’s Asian Cup, most notably in the 2014 Final. The tournament acts the qualification tournament for Asian countries to the World Cup, and for this World Cup, all the semi-finalists qualified (as well as a play-off between the two countries who finished third in their group). Japan won the 2014 Final 1-0, thanks to Azusa Iwashimizu’s goal.
Australia progressed through the Group of Death as runners-up. After losing their opening game to the USA, they beat a very impressive Nigerian side 2-0 before drawing 1-1 with Sweden. They were not given much of a chance against Brazil in the Last 16 round, but after frustrating the dangerous Brazilian attack, Kyah Simon scored the only goal to send them through.
The World Cup holders Japan has almost stumbled through an easy-looking group. They beat Switzerland 1-0, were lucky to beat Cameroon 2-1 and only managed to score one against Ecuador – who had conceded 16 goals in their first two group games. In their Last 16 tie, they beat the Netherlands 2-1 although the goal they conceded was due to Ayumi Kaihori’s goalkeeping error.
Prediction: A Japan win (on penalties)
The hosts versus England. This will be the third time these two have met in 2015. England beat Canada in the 2015 Cyprus Cup Final 1-0 thanks to Lianne Sanderson’s goal. And then in the pre-World Cup friendly, Canada beat England thanks to Sophie Schmidt’s goal. These two have only met once before in the World Cup, in 1995 where England won 3-2 in the group stage.
England began their World Cup with a 1-0 defeat by France, where manager Mark Sampson set up with a defensive lineup that nearly worked. They won their final two group games against Mexico and Colombia 2-1 with different formations and lineups. England then came back from behind to defeat Norway 2-1 in the Last 16, as England won their first ever World Cup knockout round.
Canada struggled out of their group, beating China in their opening game thanks to a fortunate penalty. The drew 0-0 with New Zealand, a game where New Zealand missed a penalty. And then they conceded a late goal as they drew 1-1 with Netherlands. In the Last 16, they played Switzerland where Josee Belanger’s goal was enough to advance to the quarter-final.
Prediction: England Win (2-1)