A clash of the titans
© AFP

Although the match between Japan and New Zealand gets the ball rolling in Group G of the Women's Olympic Football Tournament in Qinhuangdao, it is undoubtedly the match between Norway and USA which is sparking the most interest. Football fans will not be too surprised if this match is repeated come the final day on Saturday 23 August.

The games
Japan-New Zealand, Wednesday 6 August, 17:00 (local time)
Norway-USA, Wednesday 6 August, 19:45 (local time)

The context
Japan-New Zealand
Japan and New Zealand have only met each other twice before - and both of those encounters came in friendlies. On both occasions, the Japanese ran out winners, 2-1 in 2000 and 6-0 in 2005. This match marks the debut for the Kiwis at the Olympic Games, having been in the shadow of old foes Australia for so long.

Norway-USA
In contrast, Norway and USA are among two of the most established women's national teams on the planet, enjoying an up-and-down rivalry which saw the Americans winning in Atlanta 12 years ago, the Europeans in Sydney and the US re-asserting their dominance in Athens four years ago. However, Norway are the only team to have beaten the Americans at the Olympic games. Could history repeat itself in Qinhuangdao?

The player to watch: Amy Rodriguez (USA)
With star striker Abby Wambach ruled out of the tournament after suffering a broken leg in a warm-up game against Brazil, 21-year-old striker Amy Rodriguez is expected to play a more pivotal role than previously thought. The Californian, nicknamed A-Rod, has been touted as the next Mia Hamm. Beijing 2008 could be the tournament where she makes a name for herself.

The numbers game
46 -
This will be the 43rd meeting between Norway and the US. The Americans have won 22 of the games so far, Norway 18 and five draws. Two of those games were at the 2000 Olympic Games, the USA winning 2-0 in a group match and Norway winning the final 3-2 after extra-time.

The quotes
"Our goal is always to finish among the medals at every tournament. We're certainly capable of it," Norway coach Bjarne Berntsen.

"Japan's style of play will suit our own style of pressure and physical dominance," New Zealand coach John Herdman.

The question
Will the USA falter without Kristine Lilly and Abby Wambach in the side?