Women’s World Cup heavyweights the Netherlands return to action on Tuesday with a game against Japan, while Italy and China whet the appetite with the early kick.
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Italy, one of the tournament’s biggest surprises, winning Group C over teams like Australia and Brazil. Now they look to prove their worth in the knockout round over defensively stout China, with kickoff set for noon ET. The Asian side conceded just one goal in the group stage, the winner in a 1-0 loss to Germany in their opening match that proved the Chinese tough opponents.
Christina Girelli is also in the hunt for the Golden Boot after her hat-trick in the second group stage match against Jamaica. With current leader Alex Morgan appearing less than 100% on duty with the United States, it’s possible that a goal or two for Girelli in the Round of 16 could put her up there with England’s Ellen White in the race for the tournament’s top scorer. Her teammate Barbara Bonansea also has two goals after a brace in the opener against Australia. However, the Italians were blanked by Brazil in the group stage finale and will want to bounce back with a strong attacking effort.
In the later match beginning at 3 p.m. ET, Vivianne Miedema retakes the field after setting the Netherlands international career scoring record at just 22 years old, bagging her 60th goal in just her 78th match. She looks to help topple Japan who looked strong in their group stage openers against Argentina and Scotland but crumpled in the finale against England. The Netherlands will be heavily favored in this match, but did concede to both Cameroon and Canada in group stage play, proving they can be broken down.
The Netherlands have never made it to the quarterfinals of a Women’s World Cup, eliminated in the Round of 16 by – you guessed it, Japan – in 2015, their first appearance in the tournament.
The winners of these two matches will meet in the quarterfinals on Saturday.