Paris (AFP) – While England and Japan settle old scores and battle for first place in Group D of the Women’s World Cup on Wednesday, the stakes are higher in Paris as Argentina face Scotland.
In a group where every match has been tight, England have eked out two one-goal victories to take a grip on first. Japan are second with four points and are sure of a place in the last 16.
Argentina will go through if they win, but victory for Scotland could still not be enough to go through as one of the best third-place teams.
This is the fourth straight World Cup in which England and Japan have met. Each had won one and lost one.
In 2011, in Germany, England beat Japan in the final match of the group stage, but Japan went on to win the tournament.
Four years ago, in the semi-finals in Canada, an attempted interception by England’s Lynda Bassett in added time rocketed in off the crossbar to give Japan victory.
England took some revenge, beating Japan 3-0 in the SheBelievesCup in March.
“In terms of philosophy I don’t think much will have changed in either side but very likely the team will have changed, so we will be working hard on tactics and game plan,” England forward Jodie Taylor, who played in the defeat in Edmonton in 2015 and the victory in Tampa this spring, said on Tuesday.
Scotland, in their first World Cup, are seeking their first point, a feat Argentina finally achieved at the seventh attempt when they stifled Japan to draw 0-0 in their opener in France.
– ‘Bring our A game’ –
Scotland are ranked 20th in the world, Argentina entered the tournament 37th.
“We know if we bring our A game they’re not going to be able to live with us,” said Scotland midfielder Erin Cuthbert of Chelsea.
Scotland fell two goals behind in both their games, fought back with late strikes but lost.
“We probably planned to be in this situation,” said Scotland coach Shelley Kerr. “We were hopeful that we would have taken something from the first two games, but we knew that it would probably come down to this.”
Argentina had only a third of possession in their two games and have managed only three tame shots on target but provided the FIFA player of the match both times. Goalkeeper Vanina Correa received the award against England and playmaker Estefania Banini was selected against Japan.