Germany must beat South Korea on Thursday to guarantee a place in the Women’s World Cup last 16 while Colombia and their teenage phenomenon Linda Caicedo need only a point against Morocco to top the group. The action in Group H brings the curtain down on a group phase in Australia and New Zealand which has thrown up plenty of surprises. The United States are into the knockout rounds and a date with third-ranked Sweden on Sunday, but the Americans have looked anything like a team capable of winning a third World Cup in a row.
European champions England were touted before the tournament as the biggest threat to the United States and after an indifferent start, they thrashed China 6-1 to progress in style.
Sarina Wiegman’s side face Nigeria, who along with South Africa and Jamaica confounded expectations by getting out of the group stage.
Another of the pre-World Cup favourites was Germany, but they were on the end of a surprise 2-1 defeat to a Colombia side who have enjoyed strong backing from their colourful fans in Australia.
Colombia are likely to pack out the 20,000-capacity Perth Rectangular Stadium when they meet Morocco on Thursday.
And in the 18-year-old Real Madrid attacker Caicedo, they have one of the stars of the tournament so far.
Going into Thursday’s matches, Colombia top Group H and only need a point against Morocco to go through as group winners.
That would avoid France in the next round and instead set up a meeting with Jamaica.
Germany face South Korea in Brisbane knowing that victory will guarantee their progress. A draw would also be enough for the Germans, unless Morocco beat Colombia.
Wolfsburg midfielder Lena Oberdorf, one of Germany’s most influential players, is confident they will handle the pressure.
“Since we lost 2-1 we have to win, but pressure is part of it and can make you better,” she said.
“We have a lot of experienced players who have been in this situation before. It’s a fantastic stage and we’re all looking forward to it.
Colombia and Germany are clear favourites to advance, but Morocco and to a lesser extent South Korea are still in the hunt.
Tournament debutants Morocco defeated South Korea 1-0 for their first Women’s World Cup win and can progress with a win over Colombia, but would need to overturn Colombia’s significant goal difference advantage if Germany defeat the Koreans.
Colin Bell’s South Korea are yet to take a point from their two games and have looked desperately short of pace, power and options up front.
They must pull off a shock win over Germany and then need Colombia to beat Morocco to have any hope of progressing.
The knockout rounds begin on Saturday when an impressive Japan face Norway and Spain — thrashed 4-0 by Japan last time out — play Switzerland.
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