The Knockouts - Preview
We take a look at the 16 teams that have progressed to the knockout stages at the 2019 FIFA World Cup in France
With the knockout stages kicking off today Marie Schulte-Bockum takes a look at each team's performances so far and their hopes of progressing...
On paper, die Frauen-Nationalmannschaft has cruised through the group stage, winning all three matches without conceding a single goal. However, the matter-of-fact playing style will have to be improved if Germany are to make a run for the trophy.
18-year-old winger Klara Buehl has been a breath of fresh air in attack. Much will depend on if superstar Dzsenifer Marozsan can come back from her ankle injury.
The Super Falcons progress to the knockout stage of a World Cup for the first time since 1999. Nigeria put on a superb defensive performance against France and were unlucky to lose 1:0 with Wendie Renard scoring from the penalty spot. With their defensive compactness and FC Barcelona superstar Asisat Oshoala up front, the Africa Women Cup Of Nations winners are a tough opponent for any side.
24-year-old Caroline Graham Hansen has been one of the outstanding players of the group stage this year. The tricky winger suffered a knock on her ankle in the last match against South Korea (winning a penalty in the process) and much will depend on her return to health in time for the knockout phase.
Australia began the tournament with a shock defeat to Italy. However, team morale is high since the Matildas came from behind to beat Brazil 3:2. And then of course there is the matter of Aussie superstar striker Sam Kerr. Having put four goals past Jamaica, the 25-year-old will be keen to progress as far as possible and win the golden boot.
Phil Neville’s team have impressed so far and look to be among the inner circle of favourites to lift the trophy in two weeks’ time. With her cheeky nutmegs, pacy runs and brilliant technique, Nikita Parris has been one of the stand-out players of the group phase. The 25-year-old winger pairs up exceptionally well with Ellen White up front and the duo will probably mean a world of trouble for any opponent in the knockout stages.
In the 95th minute of the Indomitable Lionesses’ last group stage game against New Zealand, with her team needing a winning goal to progress, Ajara Nchout skipped past two defenders with an irresistible solo before slotting the ball into the net. The 26-year-old attacker personifies the pacy style of her team and Cameroon may well give their next opponent(s) some headaches.
Les Bleues have brought their best game to the home World Cup and unleashed a fervour of support from the stadium crowds in Paris (4:0 v South Korea), Nice (2:1 v Norway) and Rennes (1:0 v Nigeria).
In the knockout stages their defense is likely to be crucial, especially in a possible quarter final show-down with the USWNT. Luckily, France have Wendie Renard in their ranks - the best centre-back in the game.
The Canarinhas proceed to the knockout stages after a third-place finish in their group. Brazil’s many attacking stars like Formiga, Marta and Cristiane have delivered, but the team’s shaky defense may be their Achilles heel in the knockout stage.
La Roja have impressed with their beautiful passing style of football and even dominated play in their 0:1 defeat to Germany. However, two of Spain’s three goals so far have come from penalties. Moving forward, Spain will need a poacher up front, otherwise questions may be asked of coach Jorge Vilda who left Spain’s all-time record scorer Vero Boquete (31) at home.
Jill Ellis made eight changes to her starting lineup between the United States’ opening victories against Thailand and Chile, demonstrating just how impressive the depth of the USWNT squad is. Against tougher opposition in the knockout stages, the pressure will shift to the squad’s midfielders to create chances to score. Rose Lavelle and Lindsay Horan will be key creative forces.
When Sweden’s playmaker Kosovare Asllani shifts up the gears she can get past any defender in the world. Another goal threat is Montpellier winger Sofia Jakobsson who frequently troubled the USWNT when in possession. Apart from the individual class of Asllani and Jakobsson, Sweden do well on set-pieces which will be a key asset in the knockout stages.
This World Cup was always going to be about Christine Sinclair. Canada’s all-time highest scorer added her 182th international goal against the Netherlands, but the captain has not been the only player to impress. 23-year-old Kadeisha Buchanan has led Canada’s defense and the centre-back’s good form will be crucial in the knockout stages.
Italy has been the surprise of the tournament so far. Le Azzurre topped one of the hardest groups of all, reigning above Australia and Brazil on goal difference. Left winger Barbara Bonansea, who scored the goal that got Italy to the World Cup after 20 years of absence, has netted two of Italy’s seven goals in France so far. If her great form continues, Italy could go far.
The Iron Rose have brought honour to their nickname in the group stage, playing a physical and defensive style.
China’s 21-year-old goalkeeper Peng Shimeng has been instrumental, keeping two clean sheets in three games. Shimeng, who has told reporters that Manuel Neuer is her role model, saved nine shots to win China a 0:0 draw in their all-important final group stage match against Spain.
You need look no further than the huge crowds of Oranje supporters drawn to French stadiums to see how fond the Dutch are of their Loewinnen (Lionesses). The Euro 2017 winners have already put their stamp on this tournament and with five different goalscorers in the group stage (Roord, Miedema, Bloodworth, Dekker, Berensteyn), they could go far.
The Nadeshiko have played with the technique and organisation expected of them given that they were finalists at the two previous World Cups, but with only two goals in three matches, Japan is still searching for its goal-scoring form.
5’1 feet tall 26-year-old attacker Mana Iwabushi, who, as a teenager, won the World Cup in 2011 at her very first tournament, will want to add to her goal tally of one to help Japan progress through the knockout stage.