Friends, the end is in sight. We’re into the Last 8 of the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
All but one of the remaining teams are from Europe. (The one exception is, of course, the United States.) As Charles noted earlier today, this points to some interesting trendlines in the women’s game, and not all of them are great.
But those are problems for Future Us. Right now, we have a champion to crown.
Here are my predictions for the quarterfinals.
I’m just going to blow right past the Round Of 16 tie that sent England through; Kim wrote about it better that I could’ve managed.
This match-up is pretty straight-forward. England have more firepower, a stronger defense, and now a chip on their shoulders. Their performances thusfar have been strong and consistent. I expect Norway to make a good fight of it— FIGURATIVELY SPEAKING— but it just won’t be enough.
Prediction: NOR 1-3 ENG
France vs United States
On paper, the USWNT should be able to advance. Every member of the Starting XI is world class, and their strength in depth is patently absurd. No disrespect to France whatsoever, but the American are just too strong.
The problem is that the US’ starters are all tired from having to play almost a full 90 against Spain because Jill Ellis was having a normal one. Hardly anyone will be at 100% on Friday, and a few— including Alex Morgan— may have to play while nursing minor injuries. Given Ellis’ questionable game management strategy, this match will likely be won or lost on fitness and individual brilliance.
A USWNT at 70% is still probably good enough to beat France and get through to the semifinals. But it’s not a sure thing at the moment, and you can rest assured that Les Bleues will show up ready to shock the world. If you’re a USWNT fan and you’re feeling a little nervous, let’s just say that you’re not alone.
Prediction: FRA 1-2 USA a.e.t.
Italy vs Netherlands
If you showed me this bracket before the tournament started, I would’ve picked The Netherlands. Their defense knows how to hold it together and Vivianne Miedema is very good at scoring. If any of the established Top 4 missed out on the semifinals, I would’ve expected the Dutch to slot right in. They’re good, and they’re getting better, and I had been pegging them to use this World Cup to send a message.
Now, I’m not so sure.
It’s not that I’m having doubts about The Netherlands— they had a good showing in the group stages, and they did well against a still very strong Japan in the Round of 16. The problem is that Italy look like they could take on the world right now. They topped a very scary group to advance, then put in a cool and controlling performance against China in the Round of 16. They’ve secretly become one of the scarier teams in this tournament and are now, in my view, the clear Dark Horses of the tournament. I’m just saying, I wouldn’t be that surprised to see them in the Final.
I think either team deserves to go through. But if recent results and momentum count for anything, I gotta go with Italy here.
Prediction: ITA 2-1 NED
Part of me really wants to go with Sweden here. They’re the underdogs on paper, but all things being equal I would never count them out. They’ve taken down bigger teams before— including the USWNT in the 2016 Summer Olympics on their way to a silver medal— and are solid enough in the back to withstand some powerful attacking lines. I think they have it in them to make it to the semifinals, in theory.
I just don’t think they’ll be able to top Germany here. Die Nationalelf are a little too strong and a little too motivated. It’s hard for me to imagine a scenario in which Germany doesn’t make it to the semifinals, and unfortunately that’s going to come at Sweden’s expense.
Prediction: GER 2-0 SWE
What are YOUR predictions for the Quarterfinals? See any potential upsets? Let us know in the comments below!