On the second day of the FIFA Women’s World Cup knockout stage, three formidable teams will face each other. Of these, at least one of the top contenders will be eliminated. Two-time reigning champion and world No. 1 United States were not able to secure a group stage win, resulting in a second-place finish and a Round of 16 match against Sweden.
Sweden, ranked third in the world, impressed in the group stage, winning all three games and topping their group. The game between the United States and Sweden will be their seventh record World Cup meeting.
Meanwhile, in another quarterfinal battle, ninth-ranked Netherlands will face South Africa in Sydney. The Dutch were runners-up to the United States in the 2019 World Cup final. The game between the United States and Sweden will mark the end of the World Cup careers for two heroic players in women’s football.
Megan Rapinoe, Golden Boot winner in the 2019 tournament with six goals and three assists for the Americans, has announced her retirement after this World Cup. Sweden midfielder Caroline Seger has also declared that this will be her last World Cup.
Both teams will be eager to win on Sunday to ensure their superstar players can continue their journey in the tournament. For Seger, the World Cup trophy is the one achievement missing from her career. She holds the record for the most appearances for any female player in Europe with 235 caps. Despite having two Olympic silver medals and two World Cup bronze medals, Seger and her teammates are determined to go all the way and win a major tournament.
However, the United States will face some challenges, as their key player Rose Lavelle will miss the match after getting a second yellow card in the group stage finale. Additionally, veteran defender Kelley O’Hara was absent from training on Saturday for the American team.
Despite the struggles of the US team in the group stage, Sweden seem prepared for the strong American side in what should be a cracker of a contest.
Netherlands to play South Africa
Elsewhere, the Netherlands are also looking to improve on their performance in the 2019 Women’s World Cup, where they finished runners-up to the United States in the final.
In the round of 16, the Dutch will face South Africa, ranked No. 54 in the world, who secured their first World Cup victory in the group-stage finale with a 3-2 win over Italy. This is the first time in their history that South Africa has advanced to the knockout stage.
A trick for the camera? 🎥
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Despite this being only their second World Cup appearance, South Africa’s strong showing in the group stage has given them confidence that they can compete well against the Dutch team.
For Netherlands, central defender Stefanie van der Gragt is looking to prolong her tournament run as she plans to retire after the competition.
The Dutch team is likely to have Lineth Beerensteyn back in action after she missed two matches due to an injury. However, it remains uncertain whether coach Jonker will include the Juventus player in the starting lineup or stick with the same lineup that performed exceptionally well in the group stage, allowing only one goal.
Favourites Netherlands look determined to make a strong push in the tournament and surpass their previous performance by beating South Africa in the round of 16 match.