Big hitters face-off
Thursday 13 June 18:00
A gripping encounter that will surely light up the tournament has to be this clash of Group C rivals, Brazil and Australia, in Montpellier. Brazil are ranked 10th in the FIFA rankings to Australia’s sixth, but As Canarinhas have history on their side when it comes to these opponents at the Women’s World Cup.
Brazil have won two of their three previous encounters against Australia, not to mention a quarter-final penalty shoot-out victory in the 2016 Olympic quarter-finals. Australia can, though, take heart from having overcome Brazil 1-0 in the Round of 16 the last time the two sides met in this competition four years ago and they are unbeaten against them in four matches since August 2017.
Brazil came into this Women’s World Cup on the back of nine defeats, but the competition’s ever-presents made their usual bright start to the group stages. Talismanic forward Marta was out through injury against Jamaica but in her place came 34-year-old Cristiane and the veteran scored a fine hat-trick.
That 3-0 victory propelled Oswaldo Alvarez’s side to the top of the group and Australia, who were hit with an injury time winner from Italy, will be wary of the attacking flair not only of clinical Cristiane, but of team mates Andressa Alves and Debinha, who also shone in that opening match.
Australia have the players to frighten defences too and they mustered 17 attempts on goal to Italy’s five on Sunday. Backflipping Chicago Red Stars striker Sam Kerr may have made the only breakthrough, but her goal brought her tally to an impressive 24 in 27 internationals, so Brazil will be wary of her potential.
Starring in their seventh Women’s World Cup, the Matildas have reached the quarter finals in the last three editions and they will look to bounce straight back from that opening day loss to get their campaign back on track.
Making their mark
Thursday June 13, 21:00
BBC Red Button and online
South Africa and China go again on Thursday after opening day losses and the Steel Roses are surely favourites against Women’s World Cup debutants Banyana Banyana, who are ranked 33 places below them.
Playing in their seventh Women’s World Cup, and the first team to qualify for this edition besides the hosts France, China lost their opener to two-time champions Germany in Rennes on Saturday. Even so, Jia Xiuquan’s side were defensively impressive in their first match of France 2019 and could have taken something from that 1-0 loss had they shown more composure in front of goal, something they will surely have worked on in the days since.
Whether playmaker Wang Shuang will get more minutes on the pitch in this second match of the tournament than the first remains to be seen, but the Paris Saint-Germain star will be eager to make an impact at the Parc des Princes.
China’s defence will need to be on their mettle once more, though, as reigning African Women’s Player of the Year, the speedy and skilful Thembi Kgatlana, made it six goals in six major tournament appearances in the 3-1 loss to Spain. South Africa’s defensive line actually faced 25 attempts on goal in that maiden Women’s World Cup match against La Roja, 12 of them on target.
With a host of professional players on their roster, and former captain Desiree Ellis at the helm, the group’s underdogs will still be a challenge even for China, who have never failed to reach the knockout stages of this competition.
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