The opening matches in Groups A and B at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Canada 2014 have now concluded and the teams have had time to take stock. Some will be looking to build on positive starts, but others are already engaged in a battle to avoid an early exit.
Hosts Canada and holders USA must bounce back quickly from opening day upsets, while Germany, Ghana and Korea DPR can all but book their places in the quarter-finals by moving on to six points. FIFA.compreviews the third matchday.
Match of the dayUSA-Brazil, Edmonton, 8 August 2014, 20:00 (local time)
USA also lost to Germany during the group stage of the previous U-20 World Cup in Japan two years ago, but that came in the third and final game of the section and the Stars & Stripes edged into the last eight on goal difference. Defeat in their opening match this time around, however, sees coach Michelle French and her team bottom of the section, so the holders face a must-win situation in their second match. However, Brazil hardly represent easy opponents. A *Seleção *warmed up for the World Cup by winning the South American championship for the sixth time, underlining their position at the head of the continental elite. In previous U-20 encounters, the teams met in the third place play-off at both the 2004 tournament in Thailand and the 2006 edition in Russia. Honours are even so far, with the North Americans triumphing in Thailand and the Brazilians prevailing in Russia.
The other matchesThe other Group B fixture on the day is an only marginally less absorbing prospect. Germany will be brimming with confidence on the back of their opening day victory when they face China PR, and the stats from previous meetings certainly favour the two-time U-20 world champions, who beat the Asians 2-0 in the 2004 final and comfortably prevailed 4-0 at the group stage in 2012. However, Chinese morale is high following a last-gasp strike that secured a draw in their meeting with Brazil. The Asians will be looking to boost their points total prior to their final and potentially decisive meeting with USA.
Over in Group A, Ghana and Korea DPR meet for the first time at a U-20 Women's World Cup in a potentially enthralling encounter. Both were opening-day winners and have openly stated that they are aiming not merely at the quarter-finals but the trophy itself. A second victory would do their ambitions no harm at all.
For hosts Canada the task is to wipe the slate clean after their losing start to the campaign and focus on posting a first win. The North Americans fell to Ghana by the only goal of the game, leaving coach Andrew Olivieri’s team requiring nothing less than victory against Finland. The teams met at the group stage at the Russia 2006 tournament with Jodi-Ann Robinson firing a brace in the Young Canucks’* *2-0 success. The hosts will be looking for something very similar on Friday to preserve their hopes of making the second stage.
Player to watchRi Un-Sim spectacularly caught the eye at the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup 2012 in Azerbaijan, finishing as top scorer and making a huge contribution to Korea DPR coming within an ace of repeating their 2008 U-20 World Cup triumph. The striker helped herself to eight goals and terrorised every defence she faced. She was a lively and dangerous presence against the Finns in the first match, although she failed to score and will now be keen to open her account against the Ghanaians.
9 – Germany have met Asian opponents nine times in the past at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup and none of those matches have yet ended in a draw. The junior women from the home of the freshly-crowned men's world champions have an excellent record against teams from Asia with seven wins, two defeats, 25 goals for and only six against.
"Our team feels more confident because we created a lot of chances [against Germany]. We had 16 shots on goal and 22 shots overall, so it's not like we were dominated. We learned a lot from this match and we're ready for Brazil. We always keep going, that’s what the US does,"USA captain Cari Roccaro.
Match scheduleGhana-Korea DPR (Toronto, National Soccer Stadium, 8 August, 17:00)
Germany-China PR (Edmonton, Commonwealth Stadium, 8 August, 17:00)
Canada-Finland (Toronto, National Soccer Stadium, 8 August, 20:00)
USA-Brazil (Edmonton, Commonwealth Stadium, 8 August, 20:00)