We’re down to the Quarterfinals in the Women’s World Cup! As the ultimate prize gets closer and closer, the pressure only ramps up. Which teams will move on to the semifinals and keep the dream alive? Here’s what we think.
After going 7/8 in our Round of 16 picks, we’re feeling pretty good about these ones too.
Spain vs Netherlands
After a runner-up finish in the 2019 World Cup, Netherlands is back in the quarterfinals thanks to an experienced roster and a dynamic offensive attack. After winning group E with a record of 2-1-0, the Dutch handled South Africa with ease in the Round of 16, winning 2-0. Now, they’ll face their toughest challenge yet in Spain.
The Spaniards were the 6th ranked team in this tournament for a reason. Despite an embarrassing loss to Japan in the round robin, no one is taking them lightly. Like the Dutch, Spain has a multitude of high-level scorers, but they’ll be hard pressed to find the back of the net against Netherlands, who have surrendered just one goal in the tournament.
This may be the most even match on paper in the quarterfinals, but if we had to take a winner, we’ll take Spain in a VERY close one. Besides the game against Japan, the team has been dominant, and their offensive attack might be a little too much for the Dutch as they play without midfielder Danielle van de Donk.
Japan vs Sweden
The only quarterfinal match to feature two four-win teams, this one between Japan and Sweden should be a great one. The Japanese have been the best team of the tournament so far, scoring fourteen goals and allowing just one. They haven’t won a game by less than a two-goal margin, and Hinata Miyazawa leads the entire tournament with five goals scored.
On the other side, we have the 3rd ranked Swedish team. It took penalty kicks and American keeper Alyssa Naeher being a millisecond late on the last penalty to take the U.S down, but the Swedes are still here. Their bend-not-break style on defence will need to be at the top of its game to beat the Japanese, but they’ve proven in this tournament that when push comes to shove, they can shut it down.
If Sweden wants to move on, it’ll have to be from the back end out. They won’t be able to beat Japan in a high-scoring shootout, but a sound defensive effort may be enough to get the job done. We like to cheer for upsets, so what the heck – we’ll take Sweden to move on to the semifinals and bounce Japan out of the tournament.
England vs Columbia
Next, we’ve got England and Columbia. The English are the biggest favorites to move on in this round, and on paper, it’s easy to see why. Columbia is the only team left that isn’t ranked inside the top twelve, they’re one of just three remaining teams to have suffered a loss in the tournament, and they haven’t played anyone close to the level at which the Lionesses are playing.
However, the Columbians could definitely still get this done. England will be without Lauren James for the match, and after being pushed to penalties by Nigeria in the Round of 16, England doesn’t look nearly as untouchable as they did before for a lower ranked team looking to upset them. Columbia will have to be precise on the counterattack, but if they manage to get an early lead, watch out!
We’re still taking England to win this one and move on to the semifinal.
Australia vs France
The host country is still very much alive in the 2023 World Cup, and they’ll now face off against their toughest opponent yet in France. Despite a loss to Nigeria in the round robin, the Australians finished at the top of their group before eliminating Denmark by a score of 2-0 in the first round of the knockout stage. Their goal differential of +6 is seventh best of the eight teams remaining, but this Australia team is still a very good one that will have some serious home field advantage.
As usual, the French are right in the mix of things, but this team has a history of disappointing losses in the quarterfinals and semifinals, making them hungrier than ever for success. After a scoreless draw with Jamaica in their opening match, Les Bleus have scored twelve goals in three games and will look to continue to push that offensive attack against the Australian side.
Hate to pick against the home team, but we’ll take the French to move on, hopefully setting up a fantastic semifinal between France and England.