WORLD CUP FORM GUIDE: England’s tactical tweak reaped instant rewards after a slow start, while holders USA have been underwhelming
- The Women’s World Cup knockout stages will kick off across this weekend
- A handful of international giants remain in the tournament and will hope to win it
- Here, Mail Sport’s KATHRYN BATTE has cast her eye over the main contenders
There has been drama galore already at the Women’s World Cup with a host of countries surging or stuttering out of their respective groups.
England began slowly but have picked up momentum after a thumping victory over China, while Germany, the United States and the Netherlands remain in the draw.
So, with the knockout stages kicking off this weekend, Mail Sport’s KATHRYN BATTE casts her eye over the main contenders…
ENGLAND – P3, W3
Started slowly with narrow wins over Haiti and Denmark but a switch in formation saw them top Group D in style with a thrashing of China. The move to two central strikers and Lauren James as a roving No 10 reaped instant rewards.
UNITED STATES – P3, W1, D2
The world champions got off to a reasonable start with a 3-0 victory over Vietnam but have been underwhelming since, with draws against the Netherlands and Portugal. They were a post’s width from a shock exit as Portugal’s Ana Capeta hit the woodwork in added time.
The United States, the world champions, have underwhelmed since their opening victory
England began slowly at the Women’s World Cup but picked up momentum after tweaks
France are perennial underachievers and this is the last chance for the golden generation
FRANCE – P3, W2, D1
Perennial underachievers and this is the last chance for the golden generation. Recovered from a shaky 0-0 draw against Jamaica to top Group F but they could now face a tricky last-16 tie against Germany, who beat them in the semi-finals of last summer’s Euros.
JAPAN – P3, W3
If the trophy was handed out after the group stage, Japan would be proudly holding it aloft. When they met Spain in the battle of the stylists, Futoshi Ikeda’s side were impeccable in a 4-0 victory. They may not be the best individually but their organisation allows them to scalp sides with far more accomplished players.
SWEDEN – P3, W3
The 2020 Olympic silver medallists look in imperious form after three wins, with nine goals scored and one conceded. A last-16 showdown with the USA awaits. The Scandinavians are the last team to beat the USA in a tournament, having knocked them out in the Olympic semi-finals.
The Netherlands topped their group ahead of the USA and are this year’s dark horses
NETHERLANDS – P3, W2, D1
Surprisingly topped their group ahead of the USA and now face a last-16 tie with South Africa. Missing star player Vivianne Miedema but 20-year-old Esmee Brugts has stepped up. The 2019 finalists are dark horses.
AUSTRALIA – P3, W2, L1
Australia struggled early in their group without star striker Sam Kerr and her availability is still unclear for the rest of the tournament. Their midfield came good against Canada but there are still questions about whether they possess the attacking variety to trouble the top sides.
GERMANY – P2, W1, L1
The Germans started strongly with a 6-0 victory over Morocco but suffered a shock defeat by Colombia in their second game. They must win their final game against South Korea today and hope Colombia slip up against Morocco in order to top the group and avoid a last-16 clash with France.
England, Japan and Sweden are the only teams left in the competition with a perfect record
GOLDEN BOOT RACE
4 – Hinata Miyazawa (Japan)
3 – Lauren James (England)
Ary Borges (Brazil)
Kadidiatou Diani (France)
Sophie Haug (Norway)
Alexandra Popp (Germany)
Amanda Ilestedt (Sweden)
Jill Roord (Netherlands)
LAST 16 TIES
SWITZERLAND v SPAIN
Saturday, 6am (Eden Park, Auckland)
JAPAN v NORWAY
Saturday, 9am (Wellington Regional Stadium)
NETHERLANDS v SOUTH AFRICA
Sunday, 3am (Sydney Football Stadium)
SWEDEN v USA
Sunday, 10am (Melbourne Rectangular Stadium)
ENGLAND v NIGERIA
Monday, 8.30am (Brisbane Stadium)
AUSTRALIA v DENMARK
Monday, 11.30am (Stadium Australia, Sydney)
WINNER GROUP H v JAMAICA
Tuesday, 9am (Melbourne Rectangular Stadium)
FRANCE V RUNNER-UP GROUP H
Tuesday, noon (Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide)