Buoyed by victory over New Zealand in their opening match, the Nadeshiko have a chance to check into the quarter-finals at Germany 2011 a game early when they take on Mexico on Friday. One of only seven nations to have appeared at all six FIFA Women’s World Cup finals, the Japanese have reached the knockout rounds just once before, a record they will hope to improve on here. As they showed in taking a point from a powerful England side, however, El Tri will not make life easy for the Asian contenders.

The game
Japan-Mexico, Friday 1 July, Leverkusen, 15.00 (local time)

The stakes
Mexico’s objective is to build on their achievement at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Germany 2010, where they drew 3-3 with Japan before advancing to the last eight. The 1-1 draw with England has given them a solid base, though they will need to improve their head-to-head record against the Nadeshiko, who have won five and drawn one of their seven meetings. Two of those victories came in consecutive AFC/CONCACAF qualifying play-offs for USA 2003 and China 2007, with the Japanese advancing on both occasions.

Las Tricolores will be heartened by the fact that Japan have never beaten CONCACAF opposition in a world finals match, and by the news that star player Maribel Dominguez, who picked up a knock at the end of the England game, should be fully fit for Friday’s crucial encounter.

The stat
10 -
Mexico have more overseas-based players than any other team at Germany 2011. Seven play their club football in the USA and three in Spain.

The words
“There are no more secrets now and we all know each other inside out. Mexico are a tough unit and we need to be watchful because they’re very quick up front and in defence. It’s a similar situation to last year’s U-20 World Cup, where we also came up against Mexico and England, and we have a good idea of how they play,” Norio Sasaki, Japan coach.

"It will be a hard game because Japan are very technical and they have already beaten us twice. But we will not be afraid to face them. We will prove ourselves. We will be aggresive and we need a good start. This match will be also very special because we know how difficult it is to recover from such a terrible thing as the tsunami in march, as we have had also bad situations like that one," Leonardo Cuellar, Mexico coach.