Power Moments: What We've Learned Ahead of the World Cup Quarter-Finals

Richard LavertyContributor IJune 27, 2019

REIMS, FRANCE - JUNE 24: Megan Rapinoe of USA celebrates her winning goal on a penalty kick with Tobin Heath and Alex Morgan of USA during the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France Round Of 16 match between Spain and USA at Stade Auguste Delaune on June 24, 2019 in Reims, France. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

We are down to the last eight at the Women's World Cup, and patterns are starting to emerge. 

Ahead of the quarter-finals, we look at some of the key things we have learned going into the business end of the tournament. 

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1. USA can be frustrated

Reigning world champions the United States scraped through the last 16 thanks to two penalties from Megan Rapinoe in a 2-1 win over Spain.

The Spanish largely frustrated the USA, and after capitalising on a defensive error at 1-0 down, they got themselves back in the game almost as soon as they'd fallen behind.

From then on, Alex Morgan struggled to influence the game as Spain did a good job of shutting out USA's wingers.

Rapinoe, despite her two penalties, was constantly thwarted, and while Tobin Heath looked a threat whenever she got the ball, there were minimal occasions when Spain let her do any damage.

Lindsey Horan's absence was also missed through the middle, but USA will just be pleased they are through before worrying about Friday's game against France.

      

2. Tobin Heath can make the difference for USWNT

REIMS, FRANCE - JUNE 24: #17 Tobin Heath of USA in action during the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France Round Of 16 match between Spain and USA at Stade Auguste Delaune on June 24, 2019 in Reims, France. (Photo by Zhizhao Wu/Getty Images)
Zhizhao Wu/Getty Images

With defenders eyes regularly drawn to Morgan and Rapinoe in the U.S. attack, Heath often goes under the radar.

Against Spain, Heath's close control and ability on the ball saw her win an early penalty, and while Rapinoe had a quiet game on the other side, Heath is becoming a main creative outlet for the USA team.

Keeping all three of the U.S. forward line quiet is an almost impossible task, so even if Morgan and Rapinoe have off days, Heath is ready to take advantage.

        

3. You can't rule anyone out

When the likes of Australia, Japan and Canada can't make the quarter-finals, you know it's a competitive World Cup.

But while everyone has focused on USA, France, Germany and England, the other four sides are all staking a claim.

MONTPELLIER, FRANCE - JUNE 25: Italy players celebrate after victory in the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France Round Of 16 match between Italy and China at Stade de la Mosson on June 25, 2019 in Montpellier, France. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Imag
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Italy and the Netherlands will face each other, creating at least one live underdog in the semi-finals. Sweden were impressive enough in the last 16 to get past a stubborn and solid Canada side. Meanwhile, Norway backed up their performance against France in the group stages (when they unluckily lost 2-1) with a well-earned shootout win against Australia.

With eight games to go, it really does feel like anyone's tournament.

        

4. Germany have gone under the radar

Germany must be delighted to see the spotlight focused on hosts France and holders USA.

RENNES, FRANCE - JUNE 26: Kathrin Hendrich (C) of Germany and players warm up during a training session on June 26, 2019 in Pont-Pean near Rennes, France. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)
Maja Hitij/Getty Images

Under a new head coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg, there wasn't as much talk of Germany as potential winners pre-tournament.

But after four games, four wins and no goals conceded, surely now they have to be considered right up there?

They face a tough semi-final against a solid Sweden side, but they'll be delighted that much of the hype and talk this week is about the clash between France and USA in Paris on Friday night, allowing them to once again go about their business quietly. 

       

5. The golden boot race is wide open

No one player has managed to gain a stranglehold on the Golden Boot race. Morgan put herself in pole position after five goals in her opening game against Thailand, but the USA striker hasn't found the net since.

Sam Kerr (five goals) was on a hot run, but her tournament is now over, while Cristiane of Brazil (four goals) has also left France.

England's Ellen White is ticking along nicely on four, and then there are seven players on three goals, six of whom who are still in the tournament (Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd, Aurora Galli, Cristiana Girelli, Sara Daebritz and Wendie Renard). 

With two of the four leading scorers already out of the tournament, the boot is up for grabs.

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