A place in the quarter-finals will be at stake when Group C winners Japan face Group A runners up Norway in the second match of the Round of 16 stage at the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023. Japan is one of the three teams to have a perfect group stage, winning all three of their games whereas Norway struggled a bit at the end after suffering an unexpectedly loss in their first match of the tournament at the hands of New Zealand. So here's the preview of the match between Japan vs Norway.
Date: 05/08/2023 (Thursday, August 5)
Venue: Wellington Regional Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand
Time: GMT – 8:00 pm and IST – 1:30 am
Live Streaming: Fancode and DD sports
The 2011 Women's World Cup winners began their campaign with a comfortable 5-0 victory over Zambia. That match showed how much of an attacking threat this Japan team possesses. In their next match they defeated Costa Rica by 2 goals to nil and qualified for the Round of 16 stage with ease.
Then the most anticipated match of Group C came where, Japan was scheduled to play Spain. Both the teams looked in good touch and was yet to lose a game. In that match the Japanese Women showed the world why exactly they should be considered one of the favorites to win the World Cup trophy this year.
They defeated Spain 4-0 in one of the most emphatic fashions possible and completed a perfect group stage record. Despite having just 23% possession in the contest, Japan took a three-goal lead in the first half thanks to a Hinata Miyazawa brace and a Riko Ueki goal, before a second-half effort from Mina Tanaka wrapped up a comfortable victory.
Impressively, Futoshi Ikeda's side have scored more goals than any other team in the group stage, while they are still one of three countries yet to concede at the tournament, ensuring that they head into Saturday's encounter with significant momentum.
In contrast to their opponents, the group stage was far from straightforward for a Norway side that began their 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup with a 1-0 defeat to the tournament co-hosts New Zealand. In the next match they faced Switzerland, and experienced a frustrating 0-0 draw against the Swiss.
They really came into their grove in the third Group stage encounter against Philippines. It was a goal fest where Norway netted the ball 6 times in the Philippine goal. Sophia Roman Haug hat-trick, a Caroline Graham Hansen goal, an Alicia Baker own goal and a Guro Reiten penalty was enough to take them through to the knockout out stages and also ended their six-game winless run. It was just their second win of 2023 and it came just at the right time.
"We felt it was us against the world today and we performed from the very start, delivering when we really had to. This was the best response we could have given the Norwegian people and ourselves."
Both the teams have won the FIFA Women's World Cup one time each but it was a long time ago. So they would look to improve that tally by taking the first step of advancing into the Quarterfinals by winning the first knockout round.
Japan have no major injury concerns, and all the outfield players spent some time on the pitch during the group stage, except for forward Maika Hamano, who is recovering from a shoulder injury. Midfielders Yui Hasegawa and Aoba Fujino came on as substitutes against Spain, but the Nadeshiko have demonstrated great depth in their squad at this tournament. Coach Futoshi Ikeda will have plenty to ponder as he tries to select his strongest side.
In the Norway camp, the injury to star striker Ada Hegerberg remains a worry. However, her replacement Sophie Roman Haug has largely allayed those fears with some sparkling performances, including a hat-trick against the Filipinas. Midfielder Caroline Graham Hansen was dropped to the bench for the Switzerland game, but she found the back of the net against the Philippines and will be a key threat to Japan's defence.
Japan Women possible starting lineup:
Yamashita; Takahashi, Kumagai, Minami; Shimizu, Hayashi, Hasegawa, Endo; Miyazawa, Naomoto, Tanaka.
Norway Women possible starting lineup:
Mikalsen; Bjelde, Mjelde, Harviken, Hansen; Maanum, Boe Risa, Reiten; Hansen, Haavi, Haug.