Japan and England both secured qualification to the knockout stages of the Women’s World Cup after their victories over Scotland and Argentina respectively, but there is still plenty to play for in their final group match as the top spot in Group D is still on the line, according to CBS Sports. The Japanese women bounced back from a disappointing draw against Argentina in their opening match, returning to form with a 2-1 victory over Scotland. While England has won both of their opening two matches, they have yet to display the dominance many expected before the tournament began, opening the door for Japan to steal the group.
The narrative around the Japanese women’s team completely shifted after they scored two goals in the first 37 minutes against Scotland, erasing all talk of a group stage elimination as their quest for a third consecutive Women’s World Cup final remains alive. Japan displayed their tactical pressing and counter-attacking ability on the first goal, capitalizing on a poor Scottish clearance with a goal from 20 yards out by striker Mana Iwabuchi. The match was put out of hand after Yuika Sugasawa scored a penalty, as Japan basically eliminated the team that was a trendy pick to make it through Group D. Japan will be out to prove that talk surrounding the end of their golden generation was much exaggerated, and a victory against an English team that has been hyped to reach the final will more than confirm it.
While England hasn’t exactly lived up to their third-place world ranking so far in the World Cup, they enter their final match of the group stages with six points and have already qualified. Their 1-0 victory over Argentina on Friday was far from spectacular, but it was a resolute performance against a team that in hindsight has been one of the most defensively solid teams in the tournament. Jodie Taylor finally broke down the Argentinean defense after 61 minutes, well deserved after holding a commanding 76 percent possession. While Argentina wasn’t exactly ambitious going forward, England’s defense was still impressive in holding them to a single shot on target.
The outcome of the match will depend on which Japanese team shows up. If the inept attack of their first match returns, the outcome could be ugly. If they can execute the same tactics as against Scotland, things could be much more interesting. Still, if the overwhelming talent of the English women’s team finally comes together, it may not matter.
Date: Wednesday, June 19
Time: 8 p.m. (BST), 3 p.m. (ET)
TV Info: BBC One (UK), Fox Sports 1 (U.S.)