A line-up of FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup heavyweights are set to converge on Edmonton and Toronto for the first of the Canada 2014 quarter-finals. Only three teams have won this tournament since its 2002 inception and all three - Germany, Korea DPR and USA - will be on show as the battle to reach the last four gets underway.
This formidable trio's presence is hardly a surprise; in 19 U-20 Women's World Cup campaigns combined, they have never once failed to make it to this stage. And while Canada are ostensibly the odd ones out, the hosts - who last made through the group phase at Thailand 2004 - will again be boosted by the backing of a passionate home crowd. FIFA.com previews the last-eight action.
The matches *Korea DPR-USA, Toronto, 16 August 2014, 17.00 local time
*No-one has won the U-20 Women's World Cup more often than USA, and the CONCACAF champions arrived at this edition widely tipped to lift the trophy for a fourth time. An opening match defeat to Germany cast doubt on such predictions, but Michelle French's side have steadily improved since and produced their best performance yet in the 3-0 win over China PR that took them through.
The Americans' run of form finds its direct contrast in that of opponents Korea DPR, who safely negotiated their first two matches only to conclude their Group A campaign with defeat to Canada. But though Hwang Yong-Bong made no secret of his unhappiness at that performance, he will be boosted by the return of talisman Ri Un-Sim, who was rested against the hosts due to a minor injury. The outcome could well depend on whether it is Ri or Lindsey Horan - the teams' respective top scorers - who emerges as the decisive figure in this tough-to-predict encounter.
*Germany-Canada, Edmonton, 16 August 2014, 18.00 local time
*While there are no clear favourites in the day's first quarter-final, the second begins with Canada cast firmly in the role of underdogs. The hosts showed admirable grit to rescue a Group A campaign that at one stage looked doomed, and will be buoyed considerably by a much-improved defensive showing in the 1-0 win over Korea DPR.
Germany, though, waltzed through a section universally acknowledged to be the tournament's toughest, scoring 12 times in the process. Sara Dabritz alone has five goals to her name and will also be hoping to cement her position as Canada 2014's top markswoman and, in the process, silence what is sure to be a partisan Edmonton crowd.
Player to watch *She might be the youngest player in the USA squad, but 16-year-old *Mallory Pughhas been an impressive ever-present in Michelle French's side thus far. Though slight in stature, the midfielder brings mobility, technique and creativity to the American engine room and is sure to be vital in attempting to unlock a well-drilled Korea DPR defence.
The stat 43- Traditionally lauded as penalty experts, Germany have missed three of their seven spot-kicks (43 per cent) at the U-20 Women's World Cup, with Pauline Bremer the latest to falter in their 5-1 win over Brazil.
The words *"I don't think we could be more ready. Germany are just another team for us. They're great opponents, I'm excited to play them, but I think where we're at now will keep propelling us through. We have our Canadian DNA and we never give up," *Janine Beckie, Canada forward.