The Women’s World Cup moves to the quarterfinals today, with Norway taking on England in Le Havre. For the Norwegians, a tournament that was all about the ongoing dispute between Ballon d’Or winner Ada Hegerberg and the NFF has become to an impressive degree about how far their team has come since a disastrous Euro 2017. The Three Lionesses, meanwhile, came through a controversial Round of 16 match against Cameroon that was closer and more dramatic than the 3-0 scoreline indicates.
Full time update: England once again won a knockout match 3-0, but as with their Round of 16 victory, it wasn’t anywhere near as easy as that makes it sound. Jill Scott’s 3rd minute goal set them on their way, and Ellen White added a crucial second in the 40th minute as the Norwegian defense seemed rattled by England’s willingness to run at them.
Lucy Bronze, who was stellar throughout, added a magnificent third in the 57th minute, crushing a volley from outside the box. However, Norway created several golden chances in the second half, and could easily have found themselves level. Caroline Graham Hansen wasted the best of them by simply not showing the urgency to attack the ball right on the doorstep early in the half. Ingrid Hjelmseth saved a penalty kick from Nikita Parris as the game wore on, but it was too late to spark a miraculous comeback.
England will face the winner of tomorrow’s match between France and the United States on Tuesday, July 2, at Parc Olympique Lyonnais.
Location: Stade Océane (Le Havre)
Kickoff time: 3:00pm Eastern
What’s going on with these teams?: Norway has gotten to this point via some excellent defending and the ability to capitalize on moments of inspiration going forward. Their opponents have only scored two goals from open play, one of which required a spectacular backheel assist from Lee Geum-min, and despite being at a talent deficit against Australia, they were probably a bit unlucky to end up going to penalties in the first place. With Maren Mjelde and Kristine Minde both having strong tournaments at the back, and Caroline Graham Hansen worrying every defense that has lined up against the Gresshoppene, they have every reason to hope for an upset today.
On paper, England is having a classic “getting stronger as they go along” sort of tournament. A dicey 2-1 win over Scotland was followed by a sleepy 1-0 win over a stubborn Argentine side. However, England finished off Group D beating Japan 2-0, and we already mentioned their three-goal victory against Cameroon. 8 goals for, 1 against...what’s not to like?
Well, under the surface, England has never looked quite as good as they should based on pure ability. Cameroon was on the wrong end on two incredibly narrow VAR decisions, and a game that could have remained 1-0 or become 2-1 instead became 2-0 England. Despite having a big lead seeing their opponent melting down due to those decisions, England drifted along, needing a huge Karen Bardsley save to keep their lead before adding a third against the run of play.
On top of that, center backs Steph Houghton (injury) and and defender Millie Bright (illness) are both considered doubtful, which could be a big problem given how clinical Norway’s forwards have been. England may be the favorites here based on talent (keep an eye on defensive midfielder Keira Walsh or Lyon duo Lucy Bronze and Nikita Parris), but they look more vulnerable than you’d think.
Available TV: Fox, NBC Universo
Available streaming: If you subscribe to fuboTV via this link, your friends at B&RU get some cash!
Here are your other options: Fox Sports Go, Fox Soccer Match Pass, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo, NBC Universo Now
For listings in other countries, check out LiveSoccerTV.com.
Reading material: All for XI has you covered with a piece on some reasons why Europe is suddenly able to produce seven quarterfinalists, and predictions for the entire round.
What are you drinking?: All about some iced green tea with a little bit of lemon juice.
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