It’s an all-European matchup in this quarterfinal game, with Italy and the Netherlands facing off on Saturday in Valenciennes, France, for the chance to make it to the semifinals for the first time in each nation’s history, as reported by The Independent.
Italy had no problems defeating China in the Round of 16, breezing by 2-0 and making the quarterfinals for the first time since 1991, where they were defeated by Norway. This is the first time the Netherlands have made it to the quarterfinals in only their second-ever appearance at the Women’s World Cup.
In head-to-head matchups, Italy hasn’t defeated the Netherlands in their last five meetings, and as the lowest ranked team in the FIFA rankings remaining in the competition, they will need a full and healthy squad to get past the Dutch. The fitness of striker Cristiana Girelli will be of particular importance, as she is no guarantee to start after being taken off against China after suffering from heat stroke and minor injuries. She is one of the country’s most prolific scorers, as evident by her hat trick against Jamaica that secured Italy’s qualification to the knockout stages.
If Girelli is unable to play, Aurora Galli will have to bring the success she has found from the bench to the starting lineup. She has scored three goals this tournament as a substitute, including a long-range strike against China that secured Italy’s progression. If Galli is able to carry the Italian women through to the semifinals in Girelli’s absence, she could secure the starting role for the rest of the tournament.
While the success of the Netherlands Women’s National Team has only come recently, it has been unparalleled. After their appearance at the 2015 Women’s World Cup, the Dutch went on to win the 2017 Women’s European Championship and will be looking to continue their championship streak. Their squad includes former FIFA Women’s Player of the Year Lieke Martens, whose two goals were vital in knocking out 2015 finalists Japan in the Round of 16.
While the Netherlands has had a run of recent dominance against the Italians, this is the first time they have faced off in the Women’s World Cup, with the 2012 Cyprus Cup being the last time they have met in a tournament. With both countries on the verge of history, the match will likely be decided on who best handles the pressure of the moment.
Date: Saturday, June 29
Time: 3 p.m. local, 2 p.m. BST, 9 a.m. ET
TV Info: Fox Sports 1 (U.S.), BBC Red Button (UK)