Women's World Cup 2015: Sunday's Day 16 Takeaways

Michael Cummings@MikeCummings37World Football Lead WriterJune 22, 2015

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Three more teams booked a place in the quarterfinals of the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup on Sunday.

Australia pulled off the upset of the tournament so far, knocking out Brazil 1-0. France continued its recent renaissance with a commanding 3-0 win over South Korea. And in the late game, host nation Canada moved on with a 1-0 victory over Switzerland.

With those three results, five of the eight quarterfinal spots are confirmed. On Saturday, Germany and China moved into the last eight.

Here are the key takeaways from Day 16 at the Women's World Cup.

MONCTON, NB - JUNE 21:  Australia celebrates the 1-0 win over Brazil during the FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 round of 16 match between Brazil and Australia at Moncton Stadium on June 21, 2015 in Moncton, Canada.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Matildas notch historic win against Brazil

Australia claimed its first-ever World Cup knockout win, upsetting Brazil 1-0 in rainy conditions in Moncton. Substitute Kyah Simon scored the game's only goal in the 80th minute, finishing on the rebound after Luciana could only parry Lisa De Vanna's shot.

MONCTON, NB - JUNE 21:  Lisa De Vanna of Australia is chased by Fabiana of Brazil during the FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 round of 16 match between Brazil and Australia at Moncton Stadium on June 21, 2015 in Moncton, Canada.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

Alen Stajcic's team will now move on to face either Japan or the Netherlands in the quarterfinals, and based on the evidence from Sunday's excellent team performance, the Matildas might not be done in Canada.

Against Brazil's talented attackers, Australia's central midfield duo of Elise Kellond-Knight and Tameka Butt held firm, harrying the Samba Queens across the pitch. The defense largely limited Marta and Cristiane to half-chances, though Brazil struck the post through Formiga's header in the second half.

In addition, Stajcic's substitutions paid off richly. Simon, the goalscorer, also won possession to start the quick counter that led to the goal. Katrina Gorry, who opened up Brazil's defense during the sequence with an intelligent pass to De Vanna, was a second-half replacement for Butt.

A similar performance in the next round, no matter who the opponent is, could see Australia make more history and reach the semifinals for the first time.

What's more, the Matildas are on the more manageable of the two sides of the bracket. Though Japan is the defending champion, the other side features three heavyweights in Germany, France and the United States.

And although Australia lost 3-1 to the U.S. in the group stage, the Matildas actually controlled large portions of that match. On that day, Stajcic's side showed it can play with any team in the world. Australia proved it again Sunday, and any team that takes the Matildas lightly at this point will be in trouble.

“Exhilarating is the word for such a victory against a big powerful football nation,” Stajcic told John Greco of Football Federation Australia. “But there’s still more to come. We’re really happy today, we’ll celebrate tonight but it’s back to work tomorrow because we know we have another potential world champion in our next round."

MONCTON, NB - JUNE 21: Marta #10 of Brazil reacts in the second half against Australia during the FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 round of 16 match between Brazil and Australia at Moncton Stadium on June 21, 2015 in Moncton, Canada.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Imag
Elsa/Getty Images

Uncertain future for Brazil after early exit

The script seemed set for Brazil to make a deep run in the knockout stage and—just perhaps—finally win the World Cup for Marta.

MONCTON, NB - JUNE 21:  Vadao head coach of Brazil gives instructions during the FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 round of 16 match between Brazil and Australia at Moncton Stadium on June 21, 2015 in Moncton, Canada.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Vadao's side breezed through the group stage, winning all three games and resting key regulars in the final match against Costa Rica. The Samba Queens were the only team not to allow a goal heading into the knockout stage.

What's more, the bracket was seemingly kind to them. Instead of having to face Germany, the U.S. or France—the top three teams in the world rankings—relatively early in the tournament, Brazil had the more manageable path with Australia, Japan, England and Canada on its side of the draw.

In addition, for the first time, the Brazilian FA had invested in the team, bringing 27 players into an 18-month residency program to boost preparations, per Jeff Kassouf of the Equalizer.

But in the end, none of it made a difference, as Brazil failed to break down Australia and deservedly went out of the World Cup.

One has to wonder if we've seen the last of Marta at the World Cup. Still only 29, she could be young enough to feature again at the next tournament in France. But it's unlikely that she will remain at the top of her game at age 33, and by then, Brazil might have moved on to younger talent.

Up next is the Olympic tournament, which Brazil will host next year. After departing the World Cup so early, the Samba Queens will face enormous pressure to claim the gold medal on home soil.

MONTREAL, QC - JUNE 21: Eugenie Le Sommer #9 of France controls the ball past Korea's defence during the FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015 round of 16 match between France and Korea Republic at Olympic Stadium on June 21, 2015 in Montreal, Canada.  (Phot
Francois Laplante/FreestylePhoto/Getty Images

France prepares for Germany clash with style

Third-ranked France brushed aside South Korea in the second match of the day, scoring two early goals before cantering to a 3-0 victory in Montreal. Marie-Laure Delie notched a double, and Elodie Thomis added another for Les Bleues, who are playing their best football ahead of a quarterfinal showdown with Germany.

Through two matches, Philippe Bergeroo's side struggled to break down opponents. But after suffering a shocking defeat to Colombia, France seemed to awaken. Since then, Les Bleues' passes have been sharper, their runs have been more incisive and their finishing has been lethal in back-to-back blowout wins.

MONTREAL, QC - JUNE 21:  Yoo Younga #12 of Korea Republic and Wendie Renard #2 of France jump for the ball during the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup Round of 16 match at Olympic Stadium on June 21, 2015 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  (Photo by Minas Panagiota
Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

Against South Korea, the match was all but over in the first 10 minutes. France went ahead in just the fourth minute as Laure Boulleau played a neat one-two with Camille Abily before pulling back to Delie, who scuffed a shot into the far corner. Just four minutes later, it was 2-0. This time, Delie combined with Eugenie Le Sommer, who was excellent on the day, before curling past the goalkeeper.

It was beautiful football, and France was sweeping South Korea away with minimal fuss. Les Bleues needed just two shots to effectively kill off their opponents.

Similar efficiency and ruthlessness will be needed in the next round against top-ranked Germany. If any team was more impressive than France in the round of 16, it might have been Germany, which routed Sweden 4-1.

When the teams meet Friday in Montreal, it will be a matchup worthy of a final. Sadly, only one team will be able to advance. France has been the tournament's best team at possessing the ball, and the past two games have shown that Les Bleues can turn all of that possession into goals.

But through four matches, no team has scored more than Germany. On the whole, the two-time champion has been the most impressive squad in Canada.

Predicting the result is too difficult with so many days left between now and kickoff. But the team that survives will surely be the favorite to lift the trophy in Vancouver on July 5.

VANCOUVER, BC - JUNE 21: Josee Belanger #9 of Canada is congratulated by teammates after scoring Canada's first goal during the FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015 Round 16 match between Switzerland and Canada June 21, 2015 at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver
Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

Canada keeps the dream alive

With the pressure on, Canada delivered. The trick will be doing it three more times.

In the final game of the day, Canada stayed alive with a tight 1-0 victory over Switzerland in Vancouver. The final will be played on the same pitch at BC Place in two weeks, and John Herdman's side will still be dreaming of representing the host country that day.

VANCOUVER, BC - JUNE 21: Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic #13 of Switzerland wins a header over Kadeisha Buchanan #3 of Canada during the FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015 Round of 16 match between Switzerland and Canada June, 21, 2015 at BC Place Stadium in Vanco
Rich Lam/Getty Images

Much like in the group stage, Canada struggled to sustain meaningful attacks in the final third against Switzerland. But the winning goal came via Josee Belanger in the 52nd minute. Rhian Wilkinson started the move with a cross from the right. Christine Sinclair then knocked the ball down into the path of Belanger, who dispatched her first-time shot into the bottom corner.

Until Sunday, Belanger had played every match of the World Cup at right-back. Her original position is forward, so it was perhaps not all that surprising to see her move back up top in the round of 16. With Canada scoring just twice in the group stage, Herdman needed more attacking firepower, and the move paid off.

Canada will still harbor concerns about the effectiveness of its attacking play, but Herdman will be pleased that his defense once again kept a clean sheet. Through four matches, the hosts have scored just three goals but conceded only one. Moving forward, Canada might not light up the tournament but will surely be hard to beat.

VANCOUVER, BC - JUNE 21: Christine Sinclair #12 of Canada looks on as Canada coach John Herdman yells during the FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015 Round 16 match between Switzerland and Canada June 21, 2015 at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, British Colum
Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

For the Canadian public, though, results might not be enough. As John Doyle wrote so forcefully in an editorial last week for the Globe and Mail, Canada's "pedestrian play" might have been enough to make it this far, but it won't be enough to win over casual fans.

On Sunday evening in Vancouver, the stands at BC Place were bursting with passionate supporters who cheered on every attack and lauded the fine performance of several Canadian players, especially goalkeeper Erin McLeod, who starred.

Canada's low-scoring performances might not have won over casual fans just yet, but the team already has a dedicated and vociferous following, as we've seen throughout the tournament. Perhaps the average Joes are not on board yet, but the longer this team stays alive, the greater their support will grow.

Follow @MiguelCominguez.

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