The FIFA 2019 Women’s World Cup’s knockout stage continues on Sunday with the next batch of round of 16 matches. Earlier today, Germany and Norway secured progress to the quarter finals after eliminating Nigeria and Australia respectively. Tomorrow, England take on Cameroon and in the star match of the day, hosts France take on Brazil. France go into this game with a perfect record in the group stage albeit the last two of those wins were laboured and they had to grind out the victory. Brazil on the other hand finished third behind Italy and Australia and qualified as the best third-placed team despite winning two of three group matches and only losing after squandering a two-goal lead against the Matildas.
Host nation France progressed to the knockout phase by topping Group A and in doing so they won all three group games at a Women’s World Cup for the first time. Having previously defeated South Korea and Norway, they rounded of their group stage matches with 1-0 victory against Nigeria who defended stubbornly all game. The winning goal came from a re-taken penalty after the Nigerian goalkeeper moved when Wendie Renard’s first attempt hit the post. France have had plenty of possession and attempts at goal during their last two matches but they needed a goal from the penalty spot to win on both occasions. They will need to be a lot better at converting their dominance into goals if they are to beat Brazil and eventually win the tournament.
Brazil qualified for the knockout phase as the best third-placed team. Legendary striker Marta scored a second-half penalty to clinch their place in the last 16 with a 1-0 win over Italy and it was a record 17th World Cup finals goal as she became the all-time leading scorer at men’s or women’s World Cups. Doubts over Marta’s fitness appear to have faded after the 33-year-old played 84 minutes and scored the winning goal against Italy; She and Formiga have been having treatment for injuries but they have both been on the training pitch and are expected to be fine to play. Forward Andressa Alves picked up a thigh injury in training and will miss the rest of the competition.
France indeed eased through Group A with three wins but face a tricky last 16 test in the form of Brazil who will fancy their chances of causing an upset in a match the host are slight favourites for. In the other match of the day, Cameroon still reeling from that beautiful stoppage time goal by Nchout that saw them through to this stage take on a battle ready Lioness team. England are overwhelming favourites to progress and book their place in the Quarter final.
Photo Credit: Sofascore.com