The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

DI Staff predicts Women’s World Cup Round of 16

The 2023 Women’s World Cup has not disappointed in terms of a dramatic start to the tournament.

With several underdogs, such as Jamaica and South Africa, heading into the knockouts, and favorites, such as the United States, fighting to stay in the competition, who knows where the Round of 16 will take us.

As the tournament progresses into the first elimination round, here are our picks for who will claim the eight quarterfinal spots, while also taking a look back on the action of the tournament.

Switzerland (A1) vs. Spain (C2) — Maaike Niekerk

Going undefeated in the tournament so far, Switzerland has had two nil-nil draws (against Norway and hosts New Zealand) and one 2-0 win against the Philippines. Not yet conceding a single goal, the team certainly presents a strong front as they take Group A, despite not putting more balls in the back of the net.

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    Spain, on the other hand, has absolutely dominated their group — with the exception of former World Cup champions Japan. Going 2-0-1 in Group C, Spain was on a roll with dominating wins of 3-0 and 5-0 against Costa Rica and Zambia, respectively. The team looked like they had it all before losing a crushing 4-0 against group winners Japan.

    Though the big loss had many Spanish fans doubting their squad, head coach Jorge Vilda is “convinced” the team will change for the better heading into the knockouts.

    Despite coming off of this fresh loss, Spain’s previously dominant nature in the tournament shows quite a bit of strength heading into the elimination round. Although they are undefeated, Switzerland has not shown the same level of pure power in their playing so far. I believe Spain will take the win and head into the quarterfinals.

    The Netherlands (E1) vs. South Africa (G2) — Maaike Niekerk

    Going against my predictions for both of them in the group stage, the Netherlands and South Africa placed much higher than expected, with the Dutch taking a group containing the reigning World Cup champions and South Africa taking down Italy and Argentina to move into the knockouts.

    It looked like a rough start to the tournament for the Dutch, as forward Lineth Beerensteyn picked up an injury in their first match and has been on the bench ever since. Combine this with the loss of star player Vivianne Miedema, and the Dutch’s chances against the reigning champs didn’t look too good.

    However, the team absolutely delivered, going 2-1-0 with an exciting 7-0 in their last game against Vietnam to trump the U.S. and take first in the group. Despite being overlooked with their star scorers out of play, the Dutch are here to fight, as is evident by their playing so far.

    South Africa has certainly put up an impressive performance, holding their own against Argentina and Italy and only losing to global powerhouse Sweden, going 1-1-1 in their group. The team looked like they were headed out of the competition early until a shocking own-goal from Italy gave them the win they needed to advance.

    Although South Africa is advancing, they have conceded six goals this tournament so far, where the Dutch have conceded none. Though plenty of surprises could be around the corner, the oncoming Round of 16 match looks like it shouldn’t be a difficult win for the Netherlands.

    Japan (C1) vs. Norway (A2) — Maaike Niekerk

    Japan has been a force to reckon with this tournament, as they are one of the only teams to have defeated every opponent they’ve faced, including a shocking 4-0 win over Spain. Going 3-0-0 in Group C, the Japanese look to be returning to their champion selves that took the whole tournament in 2011.

    The tournament has been a little less smooth for Norway, who found themselves off to a rough start with a 1-0 loss against host country New Zealand in their first match. Finding themselves 1-1-1 in Group A, the team wasn’t a sure bet to make it out of the group until their huge 6-0 win over the Philippines put them ahead on goals.

    Norway will certainly put up a fight to stay in the tournament, but it looks like Japan is on a roll this year. I think they’ll take the win in the Round of 16 without too much trouble, and they might even progress to take the whole tournament, finally getting revenge on the U.S. after so many years.

    Australia (B1) vs. Denmark (D2) — Maaike Niekerk

    The Matildas, despite missing star player Sam Kerr for the entirety of the group stage, have been holding their own as they took the top spot in Group B after a big win against Canada. However, Kerr will be returning in the Round of 16 to an expected crowd of 80,000 fans, according to the Guardian.

    This brings bad news for the Danes. Despite suffering only one loss in the group stage to powerhouse England, Denmark has their work cut out for them going against the hosts. Australia is heading into this match with confidence, and are looking to win the entire tournament, while getting to the knockouts is a huge feat for Denmark.

    I think this battle will be better matched than expected, but ultimately, I predict Australia will take the win. Denmark has presented a strong side thus far and will give the Matildas a run for their money, but a home turf advantage combined with the return of Kerr will likely give Australia the strength they need to come out on top.

    U.S. (E2) vs. Sweden (G1) — Adam Rosen

    I so badly want to pick the United States, especially because I root for the team and the players are so thrilling to watch. However, it’s difficult for me to do so, because the problems this team are experiencing have shown no signs of going away, and the coach has done very little to inspire hope and instill fear in the eyes of opponents.

    In fact, if not for a doink off of the goal post, the Americans would not even be here in the knockouts. Sweden, however, have every reason to believe that they will take out the reigning champions, and arguably the most talented team in the world. Without Rose Lavelle, who, in my mind, is the best player on the team, the Americans are going to be lost. And, unfortunately, I believe that will come to fruition and Sweden will end the dominant run of American women’s football.

    England (D1) vs. Nigeria (B2) — Adam Rosen

    England has the second best team in the world, and that is going to get them far in this knockout stage. I have no doubt that they will survive this round and continue to advance all the way to the final.

    Nigeria has experienced a great run, and I would love to see a competitive match; however, I fear England’s dominance and experience with having won the Euro recently will push them to great heights.

    France (F1) vs. Morocco (H2) — Adam Rosen

    Like I said with the American side, I would love to pick Morocco, but for different reasons. Morocco had an amazing run to the fourth place finish in the men’s tournament in December, and this women’s team almost seems like a roster of destiny.

    However, I do find it difficult to see them advancing beyond the French, who possess a stellar roster and are primed to make a run to the semifinals in my mind. I fear the dream run from Morocco will end in heartbreak to France.

    Colombia (H1) vs. Jamaica (F2) — Adam Rosen

    The story of the Jamaican national team is beyond incredible, and sad. They have been poorly treated by their federation and had to start a GoFundMe just to get to the tournament. Well, they certainly showed their leadership why they messed up and that they deserve to be compensated to an incredible extent.

    The Reggae Girlz (quite an awesome nickname, by the way) have proven the doubters wrong and made it to the knockout stage. While Colombia has likely more favorables, I think Jamaica’s story is too excellent, and think it will carry them past the Colombian national team to the quarterfinals.

     

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    About the Contributors
    Adam Rosen, Assistant Sports Editor
    Hello! I’m Adam and I’m a senior majoring in journalism. I’m one of the assistant sports editors, and this is my second year with The DI. I love to talk about sports, so if you have any questions or desire to talk about a random athlete from 10 years ago or why Messi > Ronaldo, contact me at my email below!
    Maaike Niekerk, buzz Editor
    My name is Maaike Niekerk, and I am a sophomore majoring in English with minors in music and journalism. I began working with The Daily Illini during the fall semester of my freshman year as a buzz staff writer, and joined the editorial team last summer. I love bringing live event coverage to you from Champaign-Urbana’s vibrant music scene and sharing stories of local artists and musicians. Outside of The Daily Illini, you’ll find me performing at every football game with the Marching Illini or cycling with the 2024 Illini 4000 bike America team.
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