France, England, Germany, Spain, Italy and Brazil are through to the last 16 of the 2019 Women's World Cup. The Netherlands and defending champions USA will join them as winners of Group E and Group F, respectively, after both won on Thursday.
The United States beat Sweden 2-0 in impressive fashion, while the Netherlands defeated Canada 2-1. Count on the Netherlands and U.S. making short work of knockout ties against Japan and Spain.
England, France and Germany will also make it through. The Lionesses will face Cameroon after the latter overcame New Zealand 2-1 on Thursday.
Germany will have too much for Nigeria, while Les Bleues have the defensive resolve to blank Brazil.
This is how the bracket looks ahead of the first knockout phase:
Saturday, June 22
- Germany vs. Nigeria: 5:30 p.m. local time, 4:30 p.m. BST, 11:30 a.m. ET (prediction: 3-1)
- Norway vs. Australia: 9 p.m. local time, 8 p.m. BST, 3 p.m. ET (1-2)
Sunday, June 23
- England vs. Cameroon: 4:30 p.m. BST, 11:30 a.m. ET (2-0)
- France vs. Brazil: 9 p.m. local time, 8 p.m. BST, 3 p.m. ET (1-0)
Monday, June 24
- Spain vs. USA: 6 p.m. local time, 5 p.m. BST, noon ET (1-4)
- Sweden vs. Canada: 9 p.m. local time, 8 p.m. BST, 3 p.m. ET (1-0)
Tuesday, June 25
- Italy vs. China: 6 p.m. local time, 5 p.m. BST, noon ET (1-0)
- Netherlands vs. Japan: 9 p.m. local time, 8 p.m. BST, 3 p.m. ET (2-1)
England, France and Germany Too Good
It's not a stretch to say England, France and Germany will book their places in the last eight. All three are too strong for their opponents.
England's strength comes from a forward line loaded with pace and power. Nikita Parris offers the former quality along with an innate sense to time her runs to get free.
Parris rarely wastes chances when they come her way, while Toni Duggan is an excellent link striker who can be a force in the air. Ellen White also offers a significant threat after her brace in the victory over Japan on Wednesday:
It's a similar story for Germany, who can spread goals more evenly throughout the team thanks to an enterprising midfield led by Sara Dabritz. The 24-year-old found the net in two of Germany's three matches in Group B, both wins.
Even without the influence of classy No. 10 Dzsenifer Marozsan, who missed the group stage with a toe injury, Germany possess the quality to overcome any challenge.
France can also overcome on home soil—but for different reasons. Coach Corinne Diacre's team is geared to dominate defensively, something all but guaranteed in any game thanks to the presence of Wendie Renard.
It's already been a trying tournament for Renard, who has endured own goals and missed penalties and been spared by the video assistant referee system:
Even so, Renard is a combative and cultured defender who has emerged as the true leader of her squad. If the 28-year-old keeps Marta and Debinha quiet, a France team overly reliant on Eugenie Le Sommer for attacking impetus will do enough to go through.
USA, Netherlands Primed for Group Wins and Last-16 Progress
Defending champions USA have sent ominous warnings to the rest of the tournament by netting 16 times in their first two matches. The prolific output is testament to the strength in depth of coach Jill Ellis' squad.
Ellis has been able to give minutes to a host of match-winners, including Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Christen Press. The latter offers a stylish counterpoint to the raw power elsewhere in the U.S. ranks.
Press is a naturally creative talent who impressed despite failing to score during the 3-0 win over Chile:
Ellis' squad has too many options for Spain to overcome.
The Netherlands aren't as collectively strong as the U.S., but in Vivianne Miedema, they possess arguably the most gifted player in the tournament. The PFA Player of the Year award winner has already made her mark on the international stage:
The Arsenal forward will carry her nation past a similarly artful Japan team in what could be the best tie in the round of 16.