Norway and Australia meet in the Round of 16 of the 2019 Women’s World Cup on similar form, with both teams recording two victories and one defeat in their respective group stage matches, as reported by The Stats Zone. In what is sure to be an even matchup, the result may come down to health. Norway will be hoping that the extra day of rest they have over Australia will be enough for star winger Caroline Graham Hansen to recover from her injury. Hansen could be the key if Norway hopes to progress, while Australia will be looking for their own attacking star in Sam Kerr to break through a solid Norwegian back line and into the quarterfinals.
Norway made it to this point by finishing second in Group A, with their only defeat coming against hosts France. Of the eight times that the Norwegian women have qualified for the Women’s World Cup, it has made it to this point seven times. Still, they have not made it into the quarterfinals since 2007. Norway will be depending on center backs Maren Mjelde and Maria Thorisdottir, along with 39-year-old goalkeeper Ingrid Hjelmseth to keep the ship steady. Mjelde and Thorisdottir have carried the chemistry they share from their pairing at Chelsea to the national stage while Hjelmseth has shown no signs of slowing down and made some key saves in the group stage.
Hansen’s injury in their victory over South Korea will be a major setback for the team. While she has been participating in light training, her participation won’t likely be determined until much closer to kickoff, with her potential absence denying Norway of their best scoring threat.
Australia also secured second place in Group C, bouncing back from a defeat in their opening match against Italy with victories over Brazil and Jamaica carrying them into the knockout stages. Australia’s attack finally came alive in injury time of the first half against Brazil, scoring three unanswered goals against Brazil before putting on a dominant performance against Jamaica in their 4-1 victory.
Kerr put on one of the performances of the tournament against Jamaica, scoring all four of Australia’s goals while making history as the first Australian to score a hat trick in the World Cup. Australia will be looking for Kerr to continue her form, and her battle with the Norwegian defense could be one of the most interesting matchups of the tournament. This match marks the fourth time Australia has made it to this point, having progressed to the quarterfinals on three other occasions.
Date: Saturday, June 22
Time: 8:00 p.m. (BST), 3:00 p.m. (ET)
TV Info: BBC Two (UK), Fox (U.S.)