Two of the three remaining debutants are also in action. Cameroon will put their brand of passionate football to the test against the implacable Chinese, while a disciplined Switzerland face a tough assignment against the ambitious hosts.
Germany-Sweden, 16:00, Ottawa.
Judging by their performances in the group phase, Germany would seem to have the edge heading into this tie with their old European rivals. Silvia Neid’s side topped their group after drawing with Norway and romping to easy wins over Côte d’Ivoire and Thailand, while the Swedes, admittedly drawn in one of the tougher sections, drew their games against Nigeria, USA and Australia.
One of the many contrasts between the two sides can be seen in the threat posed by their front lines. While Neid has a lethal strike partnership at her disposal in Celia Sasic and Anja Mittag, Pia Sundhage’s strikers have yet to find the back of the net at Canada 2015. After top-scoring at UEFA Women’s EURO 2013, Lotta Schelin and Nilla Fisher have suddenly lost their edge in front of goal, a problem the Swedes will need to resolve fast.
Germany prevailed when the sides met in the last four at those European finals two years ago, a game decided by Dzsenifer Marozsan’s solitary strike, one of 17 victories the two-time world champions have enjoyed in 24 meetings with the Swedes, who have won the remaining seven.
The other matches
Hosts Canada will need to find some fluency in their game if they are to keep Switzerland at bay. The Canucks have proved fast starters on home soil, but have gone on to lose momentum in the latter stages of games, when they have been especially reliant on their defence. After a sparkling debut against Ecuador, the Swiss succumbed to Japan and Cameroon, and will be looking to star act Ramona Bachmann to start living up to expectations, while the Canadians will be hoping for much the same from the talismanic Christine Sinclair.
There will be no little talent on show when Brazil and Australia face off, though the South Americans have organisation and balance to go with the flair offered by the likes of Marta, while the Aussies will be largely dependent on the invention of Lisa De Vanna, who has been in inspired form on Canadian soil to date.
Korea Republic’s defeat of Spain was their maiden women’s world finals win and secured them a last-16 date with France. Fourth at Germany 2011, Les Bleues have serious designs on cementing their place in the upper echelons of the women’s game before hosting the world’s best in the 2019 finals.
New girls Cameroon have impressed so far, thanks in no small part to the contributions of Gaelle Enganamouit and Gabrielle Onguene. Les Lionnes also owed their second place in Group C to solid teamwork and a sharp cutting edge up front, attributes that ought to have a disciplined and tactically astute China side on guard when the two sides meet in Edmonton. With head coach Hao Wei suspended from the dugout for this one, assistant coach Chang Weiwei will be the man issuing the Steel Roses with their instructions.
Player to watch
Lisa De Vanna is both Australia’s enfant terrible and their heart and soul. An explosive character on and off the pitch, the forward is no stranger to controversy, though the Matildas would be all the poorer without her huge talent and drive to inspire them. A born winner and a force of nature, De Vanna is one player always worth keeping an eye on.
3 - The number of Women’s World Cup debutants who are still in the competition: Switzerland, the Netherlands and Cameroon, the sole remaining African side. The five other newcomers have all been eliminated, while New Zealand’s exit leaves Oceania as the only confederation without any representation in the knockout rounds.
“Great players turn in great performances when they have to.” Canada coach John Herdman on Christine Sinclair’s low-key performances in their last two matches.
Saturday 20 June
Germany-Sweden (Lansdowne Stadium, Ottawa, 16.00)
China-Cameroon (Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton, 17.30)
Sunday 21 June
Brazil-Australia (Moncton Stadium, 14.00)
France-Korea Republic (Olympic Stadium, Montreal, 16.00)
Canada-Switzerland (BC Place Stadium, Vancouver, 16.30)