So far, Group C and D has had some of the best drama in the 2015 Women’s World Cup with the places in the knock-out stages all being up for grabs. These games will not only determine who makes it to the next stage of the tournament but will also settle the placings for the teams and start to give us a more complete picture of what the knock-out rounds will look like.
Here are today’s matches (other than the US-Nigeria game, which is previewed here).
Ecuador v. Japan
5:00 PM – FOX Sports 1
Winnipeg Stadium – Winnipeg
Japan is the only team in their group with six points but their ticket for the knockout stage is not yet booked. Both Switzerland and Cameroon might only have three points but both have better goal difference then Japan.
Japan plays Ecuador, who sits in last place in Group C and has already been eliminated. Even if they pulled off a win against the reigning champs, they would still sit in last place at the end of the day unless they can make up the 16 goals they allowed in the first two games.
For Japan, they simply need to play smart and secure a win by playing to their strength: possession. Keep the ball, score some goals and come out of this game with no injuries. Don’t be surprised if Head Coach Norio Sasaki opts to use his bench once his team scores a goal or two.
Ecuador will not be happy with their first World Cup appearance. They have spent much of the tournament bunkering down on defense and using scrappy play to disrupt their opponents’ attack (with little success). While Japan is the clear favorite, Ecuador will not be rolling over for the former champs.
Switzerland v. Cameroon
5:00 PM – FOX Sports 2
Commonwealth Stadium – Edmonton
These two teams are tied with 3 points in Group C. While both teams will be battling to win, the Swiss can be comfortable with a draw because they have a very positive goal difference. However, make no mistake that this will be an important game.
If either of these teams wins in conjunction with a Japanese loss, the winning team could leapfrog into first place.
Cameroon has been a surprise in this group as they have been able to handle the pressure of playing Japan and took advantage of their chances against Ecuador. Their offense has looked impressive, creating several opportunities by using pace on the front lines. Their best chances are likely to come from those counterattacks as the Swiss have shown they like to hold the ball.
The Swiss have also shown flair through the offense — something that their group opponents have not been able to match
Australia v. Sweden
8:00 PM – FOX Sports 1
Commonwealth Stadium – Edmonton
This is the group match everyone will have their eyes on. Many thought that Sweden and the U.S. would be the two teams to contest for the top positions. Instead all four teams have their own opportunities to get through to the knockout stage. Australia sits in second place with three points and Sweden is right behind them with two points.
If Australia hopes to take first place, they will need a win and U.S. loss. A tie with Sweden and a U.S. win will allow them to maintain second place. If the Matildas do fall to Sweden, they will need to hope that Nigeria does not win or they will be out of the tournament.
Sweden needs to be playing for a win if they want to jump into an assured spot in the knockout stages. A win and U.S. loss will push them into first, while a tie and a U.S. win will leave them in third place.
Despite the many offensive weapons Sweden possess, they have lacked in offensive production, having only scored two goals in 180 minutes. On the backend, the defense has appeared inconsistent at times and has produced mixed results. They are going to have to figure out how to find the back of the net if they hope to continue in the tournament. There’s a gap between the midfield and the forward lines. Sofia Jakobsson appeared to help connect the two against the U.S. but she will need more help against Australia.
Not many were putting stock in Australia getting out of this group but they have a very good chance in front of them. They have been plagued by inconstancy up top while their back line has remained relatively reliable. Against Sweden they will need to be solid on free kicks and corners, where they lack height.
What do you think? Do you agree with our predictions for who’s going to win the whole tournament or do you think a different team has emerged in the group stages? Tell us below!
Before, during or after today’s matches, join the conversation in the comments section below with fellow soccer fans from around the world.