In what is expected to be one of the most competitive matches, Japan and Scotland face off in a match that is likely to decide the future of both teams after disappointing opening matches, as reported by The Stats Zone. Japan is currently on a three-match unbeaten streak, but those matches were all draws during a five-match winless streak that includes their surprising draw against Argentina in their opening match of the World Cup. Scotland was overwhelmed during parts of their opening match against England but showed enough quality to give them confidence against the 2015 Women's World Cup finalists.
The Japanese women are looking more and more unlikely to repeat their impressive run of results over the past decade, with a drab 0-0 draw against an Argentinean team that they were the clear favorites against. A win could have given the Japanese women some momentum to live up to their potential and compete with England in topping the group, but unless they give a dominant performance against Scotland, it's unlikely that they will pose any threats to the tournament favorites.
Still, Japan dominated possession, and it was only their inability to create proper scoring chances that denied them a rout. If Japan can manage to quickly retool their attack against a much more talented Scotland team, perhaps they could turn their tournament around.
After their difficult loss that showcased some potential in their 2-1 defeat by England, Scotland faces another difficult test against the Japanese, who while far from their best are still to be a hurdle for the inexperienced Scottish women. After a sloppy first half that saw them fall 2-0 behind England, Scotland showcased a much better performance in the second half, with Claire Emslie snatching a goal but the team falling just short.
Midfielder Erin Cuthbert stepped up to fill the striker's role for Scotland, doing an admirable job of leading the attack. The unique skill set that she brings to the striker role could be the difference against Japan, particularly on the counterattack.
While both teams dropped points, Scotland will be infinitely more confident entering the contest, only needing a draw while Japan will likely be desperate for three points before they face England in the group stage's final match. This is the match that will likely decide Japan's fate in the tournament and dropped points could mean the end of one of the finest eras in women's soccer.
Date: Friday, June 14
Time: 2 p.m. (BST), 9 a.m. (ET)
TV Info: BBC One (UK), Fox Sports 1(U.S.)