Germany unsurprisingly eased past Nigeria in their round of 16 match. Nothing less was expected from the tournament’s third-favourites. What had been a shaky start in their first two matches against China and Spain, somewhat scraping through with 1-0 wins, was backed up with a 4-0 win over the lower-rated South Africa. They topped their group and were rewarded by facing one of the best third-placed teams.
It was another day in the office at that point, an Alexandra Popp goal after 20 minutes to add to her tally, which is now only two goals behind Alex Morgan and Ellen White. It wasn’t without VAR discussion though, as we’ve seen many times throughout this competition. German defender Svenja Huth looked to be offside, but the referee said the goal stood.
Seven minutes later, VAR came in again when it looked like Lina Magull was fouled by Evelyn Nwabuoku while she was clearing the ball. What was first given as a throw-in, was turned to a penalty. Sara Dabritz came up and converted from the spot. From that point, it didn’t look like Nigeria were going to recover. And they didn’t.
Germany scored again in the 82nd minute with Lea Schuller getting her name onto the scoresheet. Not only did they win 3-0, but they kept Nigeria to only one shot on target and come into this quarter-final having not conceded a single goal throughout.
Sweden have had a slightly tougher route here. They faced a difficult test against Chile with two late goals winning it, followed up with a 5-1 win against, well, Thailand. Their final group match was against defending champions USA where Peter Gerhardsson made a lot of changes to his starting XI. It implied that they had already conceded defeat and decided to rest his first-choice team.
But their round of 16 match against Canada was a hard task too; the Swedes were the underdog.
It was a slog of a match, both teams leaning more towards defence rather than attack. For Canada, apart from Christine Sinclair, who was three goals away from breaking former USA player Abby Wambach’s goal scoring record, there weren’t that many goals in the side.
The same went for Sweden too – their best player is 34-year-old centre-back Nilla Fischer. The game produced just two shots on target for each side. Sweden took the lead after 55 minutes through Stina Blackstenius, and even though Canada had a penalty in the 69th minute, which was spectacularly saved by Hedvig Lindahl, they didn’t seem like they would come back.
You can expect a tight match here too.
Germany will face their toughest test yet here. Both China and Spain, who were higher ranked teams, pushed Germany and I can see this going to extra-time. Each of their last two Women’s World Cup quarter-finals have gone to extra-time. Losing one and winning one at penalties. If it gets past 90 minutes, I think it’ll be decided by penalties. Back that method of victory at 9/2.
There are several great players across the two sides but there’s one footballer who shines out for Sweden. Kosovare Asllani has been directly involved in four goals in this tournament, scoring two and assisting two.
If anyone pierces through the tight-knit German defence, it’ll be her. Back her to score anytime at 6/1. For Germany, I think their top scorer so far could get on the scoresheet again here, so back Popp to score anytime at 7/5.