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Women’s World Cup 2019: What to expect in the quarterfinals

AFP | Amandine Henry, captain of the French team and Megan Rapinoe, Team USA captain.

The football world is awaiting the quarterfinals for the Women’s World Cup with bated breath. Norway takes on England Thursday evening while Friday sees hosts France face off against reigning champions the USA.

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The roster for the 2019 Women’s World Cup quarterfinals is now complete. Seven European teams have qualified this year   more than double the three that made it to this round at the 2015 Cup in Canada. The line-up leaves the United States as the only non-European representative, but as championship favourite, Team USA look more than capable of holding their own.

Thursday, June 27:

Norway vs. England, 9pm, Le Havre

The first of the four quarterfinal games looks set to be a thrilling match. If the Three Lions breezed through the last round, barely breaking a sweat in their last-16 game against Cameroon (3-0), the Norwegians had their work cut out for them to defeat Australia on Saturday. The Scandinavian team beat the Australians 4-1 on penalties after a 1-1 draw, narrowly edging their way to victory. Both England and Norway will need a burst of energy to maintain their A-game despite the intense heat predicted for Thursday evening. The stats seem to favour Norway, who have claimed victory in 12 out of their 18 matches. And after a crushing loss (2-1) to England prevented them from making it to the quarterfinals four years ago, Norway will doubtless be eager to keep this year’s winning streak going.

Jean-Paul Pelissier / REUTERS | Italy's Elena Linari celebrates after the round of 16 match against China

Friday, June 28:

France vs. United States, 9pm, Paris

Perhaps the most eagerly anticipated match of the season, the showdown between France and the United States at Parc des Princes has dominated the World Cup conversation since day one. After narrowly beating tough competitor Brazil 2-1 in overtime, France will have to overcome their exhaustion and give it everything they have to battle the beast: Team USA. But America’s modest victory against Spain (2-1) pales in comparison to their 13-0 destruction of Thailand, revealing that even the world champion team will have to withstand fatigue to make it to the semifinals.

On paper, however, the chance of a French victory is slim. Even if America’s last encounter at the women’s friendly in January ended with a score (3-1) in favour of the French, the United States have largely dominated the football field this tournament with 17 wins to 3 draws and 5 losses. Team USA also tend to eliminate French teams in major women's matches. In 2011, the French team was eliminated by the USA in the World Cup semis, thanks to a skilled performance from football legend Abby Wambach.

Saturday, June 29:

Italy vs. Netherlands, 3pm, Valenciennes

The underdog of the season, Italy’s presence in the quarterfinals is a surprise to even the most perceptive sports analysts. But 29 years after their first and last quarterfinal, Italy’s Le Azzurre are making waves in this year’s Women’s World Cup. Anticipation is high in the run-up to their confrontation with the Netherlands, who are competing in a quarterfinals match for the first time in the 48-year old team’s history. In their last-16 match against Japan (2-1), the Netherlands just managed to scrape by with a penalty in the 90th minute. The Italians, on the other hand, glided through the round with a clean attack on China for a 2-0 victory. All bets will be off, and all eyes will be on the teams this Saturday for a match that could truly be anyone’s game.

Germany vs. Sweden, 6:30pm, Rennes

The final duo on the quarterfinal roster may give certain spectators serious déjà-vu. At the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada, Germany dealt Sweden a clean 4-1 victory in the last-16, and seems to have maintained that edge four years later. While Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s players easily qualified for the round with a 3-0 win over Nigeria, the Swedish team struggled to claim a slim victory over Canada (1-0). Sweden’s last confrontation with Germany at a friendly match in April also ended in favour of Mannschaft, but this match promises to be even more challenging with the return of German football star Dzsenifer Marozsan. She suffered a broken toe in the first match against China and is expected to return to the pitch for the quarterfinals.

This article has been adapted from the original by Stéphanie Trouillard

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