PARIS — The opening round of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup is in the books and featured its share of excitement, spectacular moments and controversy.
There are 16 teams left in the tournament going into the knockout stage with winners moving on to the next round.
Canada clinched a spot in the second round with two consecutive wins to start the tournament. It was the first time in Canadian World Cup history they have won their opening two games. It is also the first time they advanced to the second round in a World Cup hosted in Europe.
Canada will play Sweden at the Parc des Prince on Monday with the winner moving on to the quarterfinal. The bad news for Canada is if they advance they’ll face Germany in the next round. The good news is the United States, France, Brazil, England and Australia are on the other side of the draw.
Here is how the Round of 16 breaks down:
Germany vs. Nigeria, Saturday, Stade des Alpes, Grenoble
With typical efficiency Germany cruised through Group B, winning all three matches and scoring six goals in the process. The two-time World Cup champions had to work to get past China and Spain 1-0, but then hammered South Africa 4-0 after having already qualified for the second round. Nigeria, meanwhile, made it through despite losses to Norway and France. Their 2-0 win against Korea Republic was good enough to see them through, thanks to Chile missing a last-second penalty against Thailand on Thursday, which would have seen them go through instead.
Norway vs. Australia, Saturday, Stade de Nice, Nice
Norway won two of its three group games, losing in controversial fashion to host France after a VAR-awarded penalty. Norway looked good in a 3-0 win against Nigeria and were fortunate against Korea with Canadian referee Marie-Soleil Beaudoin awarding them two penalties in a 2-1 win. Australia finished second in Group C, bouncing back from a loss against Italy to defeat Brazil and Jamaica.
England vs. Cameroon, Sunday, Stade du Hainaut, Valenciennes
England won Group D with three consecutive wins. They defeated Scotland 2-1, Argentina 1-0 and Japan 2-0. England could be considered contenders for the title, but are in the half of the bracket with the United States and France, one of who they would have to beat to get to the final. Cameroon finished third in Group E behind Canada and advanced with a dramatic 2-1 win against New Zealand, scoring the winning goal five minutes into second-half extra time.
France vs. Brazil, Sunday, Stade Oceane, Le Havre
France won all three games and topped Group A, but had plenty of help with VAR and a couple of extremely controversial calls in their favour. There is a lot of pressure on France to succeed in this tournament and a date with the United States likely awaits if they get past Brazil. The Brazilians are still by far the best team in South America. Despite winning two of three games, Brazil finished third in Group C behind Italy and Australia.
Spain vs. United States, Monday, Stade Auguste-Delaune, Reims
The United States beat up on Thailand in their opening game, running up the score and then mocking its opponents with elaborate goal celebrations, which did not come across well in the rest of the world. They toned it down in wins against Chile and Sweden, but are still the clear-cut favourites to repeat as champions. Spain beat South Africa, lost to Germany and drew with China to get through to the second round.
Sweden vs. Canada, Monday, Parc des Princes, Paris
Canada qualified for the second round with wins against Cameroon and New Zealand. They then had a 10-game unbeaten streak snapped with a loss to the Netherlands. It’s the first time Canada has advanced at a World Cup tournament in Europe. Sweden swept past Chile and Thailand before resting a bunch of starters in a 2-0 loss against the United States.
Italy vs. China, Tuesday, Stade de la Mosson, Montpellier
Italy has looked very good in the tournament with wins against Australia and Jamaica and did enough to win the group despite a loss to Brazil. Italy is competing in the World Cup for the first time since 1999. China finished third in Group B behind Germany and Spain with a win, a loss and a draw. China have not made it past the quarterfinal since losing the final to the United States in the 1999 World Cup.
Netherlands vs. Japan, Tuesday, Roazhon Park, Rennes
Netherlands won all three group games, but you wouldn’t know it by the way they are being hammered by the press at home for not being dominant enough. The Dutch defeated Canada 2-1 to win Group E and drew the 2011 champions and 2015 finalist Japan in the second round. The Netherlands are competing in their second World Cup and were eliminated in the second round four years ago in Canada. Japan is not the same powerhouse they were eight years ago, but are still dangerous. They finished second in Group D to England, losing 2-0 to them on Wednesday.
Email: [email protected]
On Twitter: @DerekVanDiest