Last eight set for battle at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament
Free-scoring Netherlands face France 2019 final conquerors USA
Marta and Christine Sinclair meet with another record on the line
With the tournament’s heavyweights having survived a thrilling and, at times, bruising group stage, the knockout rounds arrive with the promise of classic combat. Indeed, while eyes are inevitably drawn to a 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup™ final rematch in Yokohama, the star power across these quarter-final encounters suggest a long, dazzling day of Olympic action could be in store.
Friday 30 July (all times local)
Canada-Brazil Miyagi Stadium, 17:00
Great Britain-Australia Kashima Stadium, 18:00
Sweden-Japan Saitama Stadium, 19:00
Netherlands-USA International Stadium Yokohama, 20:00
Record in legends’ sights Canada’s quarter-final against Brazil brings together two of the all-time greats. Both are chasing an elusive gold medal, with Christine Sinclair having twice won bronze (2012, 2016) and Marta in possession of two silvers (2004, 2008). These iconic players are also vying for an Olympic scoring record, with Cristiane’s tally of 14 well within reach of her former partner-in-goals (13) and international football’s all-time leading markswoman (12). Could we see history made in Miyagi?
Another special assignment for Ertz? Vivianne Miedema obliterated an Olympic scoring record herself by scoring eight times in the group stage, and her role as Dutch focal point was highlighted by FIFA’s Technical Study Group. Not that USA need telling. The world champions’ former coach, Jill Ellis, told FIFA.com in 2019 that she made a key adjustment to her team’s shape in the France 2019 final to give Julie Ertz the job of helping shackle the “very influential” Netherlands striker. With Ertz fit again, and Miedema in such prolific form, could Vlatko Andonovski be tempted to repeat what ultimately proved to be a successful tactical ploy?
Breaking through the British With three goals and an assist, Sam Kerr enjoyed a productive group campaign. But having ended it with a match in which she was subdued by a USA side featuring a couple of old colleagues, the Matildas star now faces another formidable friend-turned-foe. Chelsea team-mate Millie Bright stands at the heart of a Great Britain rearguard that has the meanest defensive record in the entire tournament, with just one goal conceded across 270 minutes of football. Canada, in fact, are the only nation ever to score against Team GB at this event – a stat Kerr will hope to rip up in her customary style.
Hosts face toughest test If the Netherlands provided the most potent attacking force in the group stage, and Great Britain the toughest defence, Sweden were perhaps the most impressive all-rounders. Emerging from an extremely tough group with the tournament’s only 100 per cent record speaks for that, and their growing confidence is reflected in an unbeaten run stretching back over 16 months. Japan, who have found goals tough to come by thus far, will surely need to raise their game significantly if they are to maintain hopes of a place on the podium.