Surprise packages Italy out to unlock tight Chinese defence
Goals and entertainment expected when the Netherlands face Japan
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The Round of 16 comes to a close on Tuesday with two tough-to-predict ties. Italy's inventive attack goes up against China PR's miserly defence while the Netherlands and Japan - both dangerous outsiders in the title race - clash in Rennes.
Italy-China PR: Round of 16, Montpellier, 18:00
Team Reporter Analysis
Qian Sun (CHN) With a solid defensive system and several dangerous attacking options, Italy are not to be underestimated - and the Steel Roses have no intentions of doing so. China have been defending well so far and that will be the foundation for their approach to this match. The team has also been practising penalties. While a counter-attacking strategy is likely to be employed by coach Jia Xiuquan, the transitions from defence to attack must be much quicker and of higher quality if China are to prevail. On the injury front, forward Wang Shanshan remains a fitness doubt after picking up a knock in the team's last game.
Sonja Nikcevic (ITA) After finishing top of their group on goal difference, Italy have been gearing up for their first FIFA Women’s World Cup™ knockout match in 28 years. Against China, and with an entire nation back home cheering them on, Le Azzurre will face a different kind of pressure as they tackle a team that conceded just once in the group phase. Having six days between matches has given the team time to recover physically and mentally, and with everyone fit, coach Milena Bertolini’s only headache is over which striker she chooses to link up with Barbara Bonansea and Cristiana Girelli.
Netherlands-Japan: Round of 16, Rennes, 21:00
Emma Coolen (NED) Coming off a strong final Group E win against Canada, the Netherlands will go into their Round of 16 game against Japan full of confidence. Sarina Wiegman’s side have stated again and again that they have yet to show the world their best football, but it’s undeniable that their performance against Canada was their best yet. Now in the knockout phase, the Oranjeleeuwinnen will have to up their game even more against their toughest opponent so far: Japan, winners in 2011 and finalists in 2015.
Ai Yoshiizumi (JPN) Although they lost 2-0 to England in their final group stage match, that proved to be a valuable learning experience for Japan. They've had five days to prepare for this match against the Netherlands and the Nadeshiko have used that time wisely. They could also be boosted by the return of a few players who were unable to face the English due to injury and there are plenty of attacking options to choose from.
Fans interested in attending the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 can still purchase tickets for the tournament via www.fifa.com/tickets, as well as via ticket booths located at stadia for remaining matches still available to the general public.
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