The final round of group matches have arrived at Canada 2014 without a single team guaranteed of progression or consigned to elimination. That unusual situation leaves everything to play for and decisive, dramatic matches in wait, with Groups A and B the first to be resolved. FIFA.com previews the action.
Match of the day
USA-China PR, Moncton, 12 August 2014, 17.00 local time
In the section that prompted gasps when it was drawn in March, China PR have thus far been the sensations. Drawing with Brazil in their opening match represented an encouraging start but it was in earning a share of the spoils against Germany – and becoming the first team to score five times against the two-time winners – that their skill and never-say-die spirit was most impressive. The Chinese know, however, that this run of draws must come to an end against the holders if they are to reach the quarter-finals. And while USA – who currently sit second – have blown hot and cold in their first two outings, there was enough in their second-half display against Brazil to show that they can still be title contenders.
The other matches
While a point may be sufficient for the Americans depending on the outcome of the section’s other match, the task facing Group B rivals Germany and Brazil is straightforward. The European heavyweights, as group leaders, only need to avoid defeat to be sure of advancing, while the South American champions must win – preferably by a couple of goals – to stand a chance. And while that is sure to be a tall order for the Brazilians, there were sufficient signs of defensive frailty in the Germans’ 5-5 draw with China to offer them hope.
In Group A, meanwhile, another big crowd is expected to roar on the hosts in their first match in Montreal’s colossal Olympic Stadium. Opponents Korea DPR are nonetheless very much in pole position after back-to-back victories, and will only be denied a place in the last eight by resounding victories for both Canada and Ghana. Andrew Olivieri’s side, for their part, showed tremendous spirit in coming from two goals down to beat Finland, but will need to raise their game considerably against the classy, clinical Asians.
Ghana currently sit level with the Canadians on points, but are two goals worse off, leaving them needing to better Olivieri’s side’s result in Montreal when they take on Finland in Moncton. It is a match for which the Black Princesses will start as favourites, but with their Nordic opponents having shown flashes of inspiration in both narrow defeats inflicted on them thus far, nothing can be taken for granted.
Player to watch
Lindsey Horan was identified as USA’s star player by Brazil coach Dorival Bueno, who spoke of singling out the striker for especially stringent marking in their recent meeting. Yet despite that close attention, the Paris Saint-Germain star – who came into the tournament with 21 goals in 22 appearances for the U-20s – still produced the decisive strike, and is sure to be the forward China fear most.
5 – Brazil go into their must-win meeting with Germany without a victory in their last five FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup matches.
“North Korea have a lot of quality; they’re the third-best team in the world in terms of [women’s] youth programmes. There have been some good moments from us and we’ve improved as our games have gone on, but we need to start better in this one. We’re going to need 90 minutes of quality football to get a result,” Andrew Olivieri, Canada coach.
Korea DPR-Canada (Montreal, Olympic Stadium, 19.00)
Ghana-Finland (Moncton Stadium, 20.00)
Brazil-Germany (Montreal, Olympic Stadium, 16.00)
USA-China PR (Moncton Stadium, 17.00)
All times local
Confederation of African Football (CAF) News