The 2023 Women’s World Cup is progressing along nicely and we’re now well into the second round of group stage fixtures.
Things are slowly starting to take shape and we’ve already reached the point when teams can start securing their places in the knockout stages – as both Spain and Japan did on Wednesday. The flip side of that is that teams can now start getting eliminated too, with Zambia, Costa Rica and Republic of Ireland all now out of the tournament with a game each left to play.
A couple of the pre-tournament favourites – including the co-hosts – are back in action on Thursday, and here’s everything you need to know about the three fixtures.
This has to be the standout fixture of the group stage, right? A repeat of the 2019 World Cup final in Wellington.
The Dutch certainly aren’t as potent as their Sarina Wiegman-inspired apex which saw them lift the 2017 European Championship, but they’ll nonetheless be a stern test for the current holders and world number one.
The sport’s supreme force kicked off their World Cup campaign with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Vietnam, and the USWNT will be looking to secure their place in the knockouts by beating the world’s ninth-ranked nation.
While the Netherlands are without superstar forward Vivianne Miedema, they’re still blessed with world-class talent, while the Americans put three goals past Vietnam last time out.
A must-win for both sides. While Vietnam were expectedly downed by the USA, Portugal fought hard but were ultimately beaten 1-0 by the Netherlands in their opening group encounter.
The Portuguese, who are competing in their first-ever World Cup, must claim three points on Thursday to have any chance of qualifying for the knockout stages with a clash against the world’s best upcoming on Matchday 3 of Group E. While they impressed at times against the Dutch, Portugal have won just one of their last five and they should be on upset alert here.
For fellow first-timers Vietnam, this is undoubtedly their best chance of walking away from the World Cup with at least a point to their name.
The co-hosts are back in action as they attempt to lock up Group B with a victory over Nigeria in Brisbane on Thursday.
The Matildas headed into the competition in fine form, and they edged past a spirited Ireland in their group opener 1-0 despite being without star forward Sam Kerr. The Chelsea sharpshooter is set to miss out once again on Thursday after picking up a calf injury on the eve of the tournament.
Nevertheless, Australia should have too much for a Nigeria side that sits 30 places below them in the world rankings. The Super Falcons, though, took two points off reigning Olympic champions Canada on Matchday 1 of Group B and have proven stubborn opposition in their recent encounters.
This could be a frustrating outing for the hosts, but victory would see them qualify for the knockouts as group winners.