We are gradually drawing closer to the business end of the FIFA Women’s World Cup as the final round of group stage matches kicks off tomorrow and the genuine contenders are gradually setting themselves apart from the others. Groups A and B will be decided tomorrow and with both matches in a group taking place simultaneously to nullify any advantage that might be gained by a team having prior knowledge of the result of their rivals’ fixture.
In Group A, the Super Falcons of Nigeria take on hosts France while Norway tackle Korea republic and in Group B, China and South Africa take on Spain and Germany respectively.
Nigeria handed themselves a chance of progressing to the knockout rounds by upsetting the odds in their second 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup to defeat South Korea but face a tough task against hosts France here.
They will face the hosts knowing a win should be enough to qualify but that is easier said than done. France have won both of their games so far and will be looking to maintain their 100% record here. France have also won each of the two previous renewals of this fixture and just in 2018, the French beat Nigeria by eight goals to nil!
The French have held both Norway and South Korea at bay with relative ease, so they should be capable of limiting the Nigerians, though they didn’t exactly fire on all cylinders in the final third last time out, despite scoring twice.
Things didn’t exactly go well for Nigeria first time out, as they were defeated by Norway, though they didn’t let their opening loss get to them. On match-day two, Thomas Dennerby’s women bounced back, beating South Korea by two goals to nil. After their confidence-boosting win, the Nigerians will be looking to upset the tournament hosts, who’re already through to the next round but will be hoping to progress at group leaders.
Defensively, the Super Falcons continue to look slightly shaky, though they are effective on the break as demonstrated against Korea republic. With someone like the speedy and direct Asisat Oshoala, who notched her first goal of the tournament last time out, in their front-line, the Nigerians are always going to offer a threat going forward.
Like Nigeria, France also won last time out, as they beat Norway by two goals to one. As was the case on match-day one, the French outclassed their opponents; they offered a good amount going forward, while they gave little away. Frankly, had the usually reliable Wendie Renard not diverted a cross into her own goal, then Norway wouldn’t have got on the score-sheet, so all round it was another relatively comfortable win for the tournament hosts.
In group B, European counterparts Germany and Spain will be looking to secure routine wins to finish as group leaders and first runner-up respectively. They could be tempted to rest key players and keep them fresh for the second round. China and South Africa are likely to battle hard with still with a chance of getting out of the group stage but the task ahead looks sizable for both teams irrespective of whichever team the Europeans field.
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