On the second day of quarter-finals at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup Japan 2012, the question on everybody's lips in Saitama is whether group winners Germany and Korea DPR can continue their dominance in the knockout rounds.
The North Koreans did not drop a point in the group stage and proved they mean business by hitting 15 goals. Defending champions Germany backed up their role as title favourites after topping a tough group including USA.
Match of the day
Germany-Norway, Saitama, Friday 31 August, 16:00 (local time)
In the last year alone these teams have met four times at his level and Germany clearly hold the upper hand. At the UEFA U-19 European Championship 2011, which also served as a qualification tournament for the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup, Germany won 3-1 in the group stage and recorded an 8-1 triumph in the final. Earlier this year the sides drew 1-1, before Germany won again (5-0) as part of their FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup preparations six weeks ago.
However, victory is by no means guaranteed for Maren Meinert’s side, as the Scandinavians’ form has been steadily improving. A 4-2 defeat to Korea DPR preceded two straight wins: a 2-1 victory over Canada and a 4-1 thrashing of Argentina.
The other game
Korea DPR-USA, Saitama, Friday 31 August, 19:30 (local time)
USA have struggled to find their rhythm at this tournament and they will need to remedy that soon in order to get the better of the Asians. This fixture is a repeat of the 2008 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup final, which USA won 2-1.
Two years later, both sides went out in the quarter-finals as Germany took the title. Korea DPR succumbed to the eventual champions 2-0, while USA lost 4-2 in a penalty shoot-out against Nigeria. It was the first time the North Americans had failed to reach the last four at a FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup.
Player to watch
With seven goals to her name already, Kim Un Hwa (Korea DPR) has the adidas Golden Shoe firmly in her sights. If she continues her scoring streak, she could well break the tournament record of ten goals, set by Christine Sinclair in 2002 and equalled by Alexandra Popp in 2010. For the Stars and Stripes, Maya Hayes is the main threat, having netted four of her sides’ five goals so far.
1 - While the senior Norwegian women’s side are regular participants at major international tournaments - even winning the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ in 1995 - the Scandinavians’ youth teams still have some catching up to do. This is only the second time Norway have qualified for a FIFA Women’s World Cup at youth level. Following their elimination at the group stage of Chile 2008, Japan 2012 is the first time they have ever reached the last eight.
“It was our aim to get to the quarter-finals here at this World Cup and we managed to do that. Now nobody thinks we stand a chance against Germany, but why shouldn’t we cause an upset? It’s a new challenge for us,” Norway coach Jarl Torske.