The 2015 Women's World Cup will narrow down to its final eight tonight with Japan taking on the Netherlands in the final Round of 16 pairing. Australia awaits the winner of this match between two highly technical teams. This should be an entertaining game, as both sides will try to win playing aesthetically pleasing soccer. Still, that doesn't imply that this is an even game. The Japanese will be heavily favored, even if they're not quite as good as they were in 2011.
Japan won their three games and only gave up one goal in Group C, but that covers the fact that Cameroon was inches away from notching a draw in stoppage time. Ecuador - hammered in their first two games - held the Nadeshiko to a 1-0 win (and Japan was starting several regulars, including Homare Sawa and Aya Miyama). While it's safe to say they were probably trying to preserve their legs, this still wasn't Japan hitting the heights one would expect.
The Dutch, meanwhile, found themselves in a very tight Group A. They edged New Zealand 1-0 in their opener, then conceded a 91st minute game-winner to China in a game they probably deserved to lose by more. Their 87th minute equalizer against Canada left them even with China on points and goal difference, but on goals scored they dropped into 3rd. Keeping the ball out of the back of the net gives them a chance, but this team is supposed to be defined by the play of attackers like Vivienne Miedema and Lieke Martens. That hasn't really come through, but keeping the ball and being creative may be the best way from letting Japan - who want to do the exact same thing - from controlling the game.
Round of 16: Japan vs. Netherlands
Kickoff time: 10:00pm Eastern
TV/Streaming: Fox Sports 1, NBC Universo, Fox Sports Go, Fox Soccer 2Go, NBC Universo Now, NBC Deportes En Vivo Extra
Venue: BC Place Stadium (Vancouver)
What are you drinking?: We'll be coming off of Filibuster, so I'll already be a drink or two in. Nonetheless, more gin! This time in rickey form.
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