The quarterfinals of the FIFA Women’s World Cup are set. After an exciting, but ultimately predictable, tournament so far, the round of 16 gave some of the tournament’s most unexpected results. A narrow over Spain for the United States stands out, but Norway and Australia’s match was equally surprising.
Round of 16
In the round of 16, every non-European team, except for the United States, lost out of the tournament.
The most entertaining match of the past round was the overtime thriller between Norway and Australia. The match saw three yellow cards and one red card given out. The red was given to Australia’s Alanna Kennedy in the 104th minute for pulling down Lisa-Marie Utland when she was through on goal. The red card, as dramatic as it was, did not decide the match. Australia’s inability to create any true attacking chances had the team constantly chasing the game. Samantha Kerr, Australia’s star forward and one of the tournaments best players, was ineffective as a central striker. The Australian coaching staff moved Kerr to the left wing, which saw the forward become even less involved. After a scoreless extra time, the match went to penalties. Norway was a perfect four-for-four from the penalty spot. Australia only scored one of three penalties, putting the team's lack of confidence was on display in the most obvious way.
Heading into the Quarterfinals, Norway will face England on Thursday, June 27 at 3 p.m. (EST). Both squads are well organized and unselfish which should make it interesting for neutrals. The two matches on Saturday, June 29 are Italy against Netherlands and Germany against Sweden at 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. (EST), respectively.
This round’s most exciting match will likely be between France and the United States. Picked by many at the start of the tournament as the potential title deciding match, both teams will be confident they can win in Paris on Friday. The French are coming off a hard-fought extra time win against a strong Brazil side, and the Americans are through after narrowly defeating Spain thanks to a questionable VAR decision.
France and the United States play a similar style of soccer. Both teams like to push the ball into space out wide, allowing wingers to dribble at pace while the outside backs look to overlap in support. The game has the potential to be a back-and-forth contest that could finish with a lot of goals. It may ultimately be decided by which defense and goalkeeper have the best day. In a match where there will likely be chances for both sides to score, the defense that remains prepared when called on will win its team the match.