WOMEN’S WORLD CUP QUARTER-FINAL BREAKDOWN

2023-08-09 · 4 min read · FIFA Women's World Cup/Soccer
Sweden's Kosovare Asllani and team The Netherlands

Bjorn Larsson Rosvall/TT News Agency

And then there were eight. The 2023 Women’s World Cup has moved on to the quarterfinals, and with the United States eliminated, we will not see a repeat winner this year. In addition, odds are increasing that soccer fans see a first-time winner of the Women’s World Cup. Out of the eight teams left standing, only Japan has enjoyed World Cup glory, having won the title in 2011 when they defeated the United States in the Final.
How do the final eight stack up? Let’s dive in.
Japan
Entering the knockout round Japan must be the team to beat. Their performance in the Round of 16 did not disappoint. Japan dispatched Norway 3-1, setting up a heavyweight bout with Sweden in the quarterfinals. Despite Norway employing five defenders, Japan’s quick, crisp passing attack still found ways to break down that defensive line.
The road for Japan does get tougher, as they’ll square off with the third-ranked team in the world when they take on Sweden. But given what they have done to this point, they deserve top billing, until someone knocks them off.
Prediction
Japan dispatches Sweden 2-1 in extra-time advancing to the semifinals.
Spain
After being held scoreless by Japan in their final match of group play, Spain rebounded with a 5-1 throttling of Switzerland to book their spot in the quarterfinals.
One big question remains: How will their defense hold up against better competition? We saw what Japan did to them, with their 4-0 win over Spain to clinch the group, and they’ll now face a Netherlands squad that put seven goals on the board against Vietnam to win Group E, and two more goals in their knockout round win over South Africa. Spain can surely score, but can they defend enough to advance?
Prediction
Spain fall to the Netherlands allowing three goals.
Netherlands
The Dutch won their first round of 16 match against South Africa 2-0, but it came with a steep price. Midfielder Daniëlle van de Donk picked up a second yellow card, meaning she is out of the Netherland’s next match against Spain in the quarterfinals. However, the Dutch should keep rolling, because midfielder Jill Roord continues to score goals. If the Netherlands can control possession like they did against South Africa (72% possession), then they’ll continue to create great chances on goal.
Prediction
Netherlands are the underdogs of the tournament dispatching Spain and winning the semifinals as well.
Australia
The Aussies just keep on rolling. Unquestionably the Cinderellas of the tournament, the Matildas at playing at an elite level without fully integrating their best player (and captain) Sam Kerr.
It’s unclear if Australia can handle the juggernauts in this tournament like Japan, Spain and England — but there’s increasing belief that this team can shock the world.
Prediction
The Cinderella story ends at the quarterfinals to the hands of France.
England
The good news? The Lionesses are through following a hard-fought victory over Nigeria, which came down to penalties. The bad news? They will likely be without emerging star Lauren James, who was given a red card for stomping on Michelle Alozie during the match. FIFA will review the penalty, and should the red card stand, she would be out for England’s next match. There is also the possibility of an increased penalty, and a three-match ban would effectively end her tournament.
Prediction
England find their form and have the best result of any team in the quarterfinals.
France
This French team finally showed flashes of their ability in their 4-0 dismantling of Morocco, but there are still questions lingering. We’re left with a team that should be much, much better on paper than they have in practice. If this sounds familiar it’s because it’s a similar issue that the USWNT had, albeit with less expectation.
This is a frustrating team with the potential to be a Top 3 team, but they haven’t managed to show it yet.
Prediction
France breaks the hearts of many, narrowly taking down Australia in a penalty shootout.
Sweden
Entering the 2023 Women’s World Cup, Sweden was the third-ranked team in the world. Germany, the second-ranked team, failed to advance out of group play. Sweden sent the top ranked USWNT home in the Round of 16.
By that logic alone, you could make a case that Sweden is now the team to beat. However, their road only gets tougher from here, as they’re slated to take on Japan, the hottest team in the tournament, in the quarterfinals. Having conceded just once in open play this entire tournament — a goal allowed to South Africa in their first match of group play — the Swedes might be able to slow down Japan’s offensive attack.
Prediction
Sweden falls at the hands of Japan in the quarterfinals.
Columbia
For the first time in country history, the Colombian women’s team is through to the final eight of the World Cup. Against a stubborn Jamaican women’s defense, the Colombian women scored a goal in the 51st minute of the game. Catalina Usme scored the goal that broke the deadlock against Jamaica, and goalkeeper Diana Ospina Garcia has consistently been good this World Cup, only allowing two goals over four matches. That experience on the squad is going to be extremely important, as they take on England in the quarterfinals.
Prediction
The road ends here for the final South American team still standing.
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By: Aaron Cantin

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