AUCKLAND: Japan has hardly been examined on this Ladies’s World Cup and rolled with an ideal 4-0 file into the quarterfinals, the place a win over Sweden would present the Nadeshiko are very a lot a real contender.
However Friday’s opening day of the quarterfinals additionally provides the Netherlands a chance to take management of a wide-open World Cup. The Dutch have been runners-up to america 4 years in the past, and the Individuals beat them within the quarterfinals of the Tokyo Olympics.
With the US already eradicated, the Netherlands has a significant impediment out of its means. However first up comes a match towards Spain, which had by no means earlier than superior into the quarterfinals of the World Cup till this yr.
A take a look at Friday’s video games:
Sweden is rated third on this planet by FIFA and the highest-ranked workforce nonetheless within the World Cup. After three third-place finishes within the match, the Swedes are able to play in a championship recreation.
Sweden ended America’s run towards an unprecedented third consecutive World Cup title, has been to the semifinals three totally different occasions, together with in 2019, however has not made it to the ultimate since 2003. Sweden was runner-up to Germany in its solely championship recreation.
The Swedes have been sparked by goalkeeper Zecira Musovic, who was unflappable throughout Sweden’s 5-4 penalty shootout win over the Individuals.
The one factor Sweden coach Peter Gerhardsson has found out about Japan is that they’re nothing like every other workforce the Swedes have seen to date on this match.
“Not one of the 4 opponents we’ve performed to date are paying homage to Japan,” Gerhardsson stated. “However after we’re wanting on the matches performed by Japan, we don’t assume that there are any similarities between these international locations and Sweden both.”
However Japan has breezed by way of the match and is an ideal 4-0 headed into this match towards Sweden at Eden Park, the place Japan can avenge its loss to the Swedes within the quarterfinals of the Tokyo Olympics.
Hinata Miyazawa has scored 5 occasions in 4 video games and leads the Golden Boot race headed into the match towards Sweden. The 23-year-old has already matched the workforce’s World Cup file set by Japanese legend Homare Sawa, who had 5 objectives when Japan received the occasion in 2011.
Japan has scored a team-record 14 objectives whereas going 4-0 and conceded just one objective this match, in a 3-1 victory over Norway within the knockout stage.
“Since this workforce has been constructed, every part that now we have achieved is now taking type and we’re capable of see it on the sector,” midfielder Fuka Nagano stated. “I feel that’s serving to me and every participant consider in themselves and I feel that’s resulting in us attending to the place we are actually.”
Japan has benefited from back-to-back video games in New Zealand. After beating Norway in Wellington, the Japanese made the brief flight to Auckland. Sweden performed in Melbourne and has an extra journey day and a brand new time zone to regulate to for the quarterfinals.
The sport might be a defensive battle regardless of Japan’s scoring skills as a result of the groups have mixed for six clear sheets, and every has conceded just one objective apiece in 4 video games. However Sweden ranks seventh among the many eight quarterfinalists for common anticipated objectives and had simply three pictures on objective towards america.
Spain appeared to be among the many strongest groups within the competitors till a 4-0 blowout loss to Japan within the group finale. La Roja rebounded to get rid of Switzerland within the knockout spherical with 5-1 win.
The objective allowed was an personal objective, and the Spaniards made 5 lineup modifications forward of the Switzerland match in a significant shakeup after the Japan loss. Now within the quarterfinals for the primary time, Spain’s match towards the Netherlands will likely be a real take a look at of the place it stands among the many soccer elite.
Spain has scored 13 objectives by way of 4 video games and has been offensively aggressive in each recreation, besides the loss to Japan.
The Netherlands is making an attempt to make the championship recreation for the second World Cup in a row. The Dutch did not qualify for the primary six editions of the World Cup however have been among the many finest since their 2015 debut. The Netherlands made it to the knockout spherical that yr and misplaced to america within the closing in 2019.
Dutch ahead Lineth Beerensteyn could not assist however have fun a bit when Sweden eradicated the reigning two-time champion United States. The 2 groups performed to a tense 1-1 draw within the group stage and Beerensteyn is completely satisfied to keep away from one other match towards the Individuals.
“From the primary second I heard they have been out I used to be identical to ‘Sure! Bye!’” Bereensteyn stated. “From the beginning of the match, they have been already speaking in regards to the closing. I used to be pondering, ‘You first have to indicate it on the pitch earlier than you speak.’
“I nonetheless have a number of respect for them however now they’re out of the match,” she stated. “For me it’s a reduction and for them, it’s one thing they should take with them sooner or later.”
The match is a gathering of prolific scorers: Jill Roord has scored 4 objectives to date, one off the tempo behind tournament-leading Hinata Miyazawa of Japan. Aitana Bonmati has three objectives to date and has stepped in for Alexia Putellas, the two-time Ballon d’Or winner who has been restricted by damage.
Danielle van de Donk, the midfielder who tussled with American captain Lindsey Horan in group play, will miss the sport for the Netherlands as a result of she has two yellow playing cards within the match.
“I really feel very silly,” she stated. “You don’t need to be suspended for the following spherical and I now must take care of that personally.”