Italy has become the surprise team of the 2019 Women’s World Cup as it enters the last 16 on the back of topping Group C, a “Group of Death” that contained Brazil and Australia, as reported by the Bleacher Report. While they have been flying high and scoring with ease, the Italian women will be up against a Chinese team that has only conceded one goal so far this tournament. China’s third-place finish in Group B and lack of a goalscoring threat has been somewhat disappointing for the team, as they will be hoping they can rely on their tournament experience to get by the Italians.
While Italy did lose to Brazil in their previous matchup, which was a game that ultimately meant nothing to the Italians, it did expose some correctable solutions in their tactics and could ultimately be a benefit to the entertaining team that has become one of the biggest stories of the tournament. Italy’s attacking strategy is something to pay particular attention to, as they found their usual fast-paced, and sometimes frantic, counter-attacking hit a wall against the veteran Brazilians. Against the solid Chinese, they will have to employ a more patient attack, using precision passing and singular skill that can break China’s defense down.
Juventus teammates Barbara Bonansea and Cristiana Girelli will be the players to watch, with five combined goals for Italy in the group stages, and the outcome of their chess match against the Chinese backline will decide if they make the quarterfinals for the first time since 1991.
China, on the other hand, has seen a tournament that began with so much optimism turn into a bit of an underwhelming run to the knockout stages. After scoring in six of their previous matches before the World Cup kicked off, China’s scoring has almost completely dried up with the Chinese women with only a single goal against South Africa. With only five shots on goal in the group stages, it’s hard to see how China could manage to turn things around in attack. Still, it’s hard to deny the ability of their defense that held a German team ranked second in the world to a single goal and kept a clean sheet against Spain. Those two European sides are arguably more talented than Italy, but China is going to have to take advantage of the minimal chances it has created if it expects to repeat its 2015 World Cup performance and return to the quarterfinals.
Date: Tuesday, June 25
Time: 6 p.m. local time, 5 p.m. BST, 12 p.m. ET
TV Info: BBC Two (UK), Fox Sports 2 (USA)