Only eight teams remain in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and only the best of the best can continue from here. This Friday will see the first two fixtures of the quarterfinals and some of the competition’s finest historical teams will be on display. Spain take on the Netherlands in Wellington in the early kick-off – however, the competition’s two best remaining teams don’t kick off until the evening in Auckland. The clash will see the 2011 World Champions take on the 2003 runners-up, in a quest for a place in the semi-finals. It’s Japan vs Sweden – and it’s all to play for this Friday at Eden Park.
As the only Asian country to win the FIFA Women’s World Cup, Japan are keen to repeat their 2011 glory this summer. The Nadeshiko have been in imperious form since their impressive start to the competition with a 5-0 victory over Zambia. They’ve already toppled some of the world’s best, with an impressive 4-0 victory over Spain and a 3-1 victory over Norway in the round-of-sixteen.
Japan are undefeated and have only conceded once in four matches. In that time, they scored fourteen goals, making them the most prolific side in the competition. From those 14 goals, Hinata Miyazawa has scored 5 of them – making her the top goalscorer for both Japan and the competition. After a disappointing campaign in 2019, the Nadeshiko look almost flawless in their pursuit to make amends. There are very few teams left that look likely to stop them, and they’ll play one of them this Friday.
Sweden have been in equally impressive form this summer. Their most impressive result by far has been their elimination of the reigning World Champions. In a match where they rarely ventured into the opposition half, the Blågult looked far from their best form. However, the Swedes held on until penalties where they took advantage of USA’s poor penalty taking. Although, they only managed to progress by the slimmest of margins – measurable by the centimetres left between the ball from their final penalty and the line. It was a night of controversy and drama, but they rose above the chaos and came out on top. While their overall performance was poor, it didn’t take away from their accomplishment of becoming the only team to have beaten the USA twice in this competition. It’s a warning sign to Japan and the rest of the remaining countries that Sweden are serious contenders for the crown. The Blågult have dethroned the queens of the FIFA Women’s World Cup – only time will tell if they’ll be the ones to take it for themselves.
Both Japan and Sweden have played in all nine editions of the famous competition. Despite winning it in 2011, Japan have only played in three quarter-finals, whereas Sweden have played in six. The two have faced each other three times before Friday’s clash. Sweden beat Japan twice in 1991 and 1995 – scoring 10 goals without reply.
In their last meeting, Japan beat Sweden 3-1 in the semi-finals of the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup – the same year the Nadeshiko won their first and only title. Only time, and Friday’s clash, will tell if history repeats itself for Japan. With the flawless form these two teams have been in, it’s a clash that promises to be remembered in history for ages.
Only one can progress on Friday, with the winner facing either Spain or the Netherlands at Eden Park next Tuesday. With a place in the semi-finals on the line, Japan and Sweden remain focused on victory in their quest for World Cup glory. Can Japan continue their journey to a second World Cup title with victory, or will Sweden knock out yet another World Champion?
Both Japan and Sweden have fully fit and available squads.
Japan: Yamashita, Minami, Kumagai, Takahashi, Endo, Nagano, Hasegawa, Shimizu, Fujino, Tanaka, Miyazawa
Sweden: Musovic, Andersson, Eriksson, Ilestedt, Björn, Rubensson, Angeldahl, Rolfö, Asllani, Rytting Kaneryd, Blackstenius
Where can I watch?
Kick-off at Eden Park is scheduled for 8:30am UK time on Friday, 11th August 2023. The coverage will begin at 8:00am on BBC One and BBC iPlayer. If you’re unable to watch the match, fear not – we’ll have a detailed match report published within minutes of the final whistle.