Women’s World Cup, Round of 16: Defending champion USA faces Spanish test

Alex Morgan and Carli Lloyd’s USA will want to make short work of the Spanish women and proceed to the quarterfinal of the Women's World Cup.

The USA women's football team takes on Spain in a round of 16 match at Women's World Cup 2019.   -  Getty Images

After a dominant group stage performance - winning all three of its group games - USA Women will seek to extend its winning streak and continue its run in the Women's World Cup with a victory over Spain in Reims on Monday

The two teams have never faced off in a World Cup clash before. They met earlier this year and Spain lost 1-0 to the world number one team. However, if its run in the ongoing tournament is anything to go by, expecting Spain to pull off an upset isn’t wishful thinking.

USA topped group F with a game that included a 13-0 mammoth victory margin against Thailand. Spain, meanwhile, finished second in Group B.

READ | Alex Morgan, Julie Ertz ‘fine’ to play in knockout clash against Spain

Ahead of the tie, there were concerns surrounding Alex Morgan and Julie Ertz’s fitness. Those concerns seem to have been quelled after coach Jill Ellis confirmed they were doing fine.

USA comes into the game with an enviable record. The aggregate scoreline from of its last eight matches in the tournament reads 29-2 in its favour. The only time it has conceded in its last nine games at the World Cup was at the 2015 final against Japan. USA went on to win the game, and consequently the title, after beating the Nadeshiko 5-2.

This is Spain’s first World Cup knockout appearance and the math doesn’t look great. Only one of the past eight knockout debutants have made it through to the quarters. That team was France in 2011.

USA has been great on the offensive but has hardly been tested defensively. If Hermoso and Co. can breach the American defence and get one through, one wonders what the USA side of things will look like.

READ | England boss Neville praises Duggan following alleged spitting incident

 

Players to watch out for

Alex Morgan will be the player to watch out in the Spanish litmus test. Morgan was lethal in the first game against Thailand but hasn’t gotten enough playing time after to explore any other avenues of performance. She was muted in the last game and sat out the second group game.

Atletico’s Jennifer Hermoso is undoubtedly the player to watch out for in the Spanish side. She was the La Roja’s top scorer in the qualifiers and found the net twice during the group stages.

Milestones

It’s raining milestones in France with a record or a personal achievement coming up everyday. This time, it’s Jill Ellis’ time to soak in the spotlight. The round of 16 match against Spain will tie her with April Heinrichs (124) for most games coached in USA history.

What's next

The winner of the game will face France in the quarterfinals on June 29. France beat Brazil

ROAD TO KNOCKOUTS:

SPAIN

Spain came from behind to claim a 3-1 win over South Africa in its opening match of the Women's World Cup. Jennifer Hermoso, the star of Spain’s qualification campaign, scored two second-half penalties. Match Report

The Spaniards faced defeat in their second game in the tournament, against Germany. Sara Dabritz scored the only goal of the tie. Match Report

Spain and China played out a goalless draw that saw both of them earn a spot in the last-16 of the Women's World Cup. Lucia Garcia had the best chance of the game but nothing went past Chinese keeper Peng Shimeng, who was also adjudged player of the match. Match Report

USA

The US produced a record-breaking Women's World Cup win, thrashing Thailand 13-0 in an utterly one-sided clash. Alex Morgan starred with five goals. Match Report

Christiane Endler made several excellent saves but Chile could not keep the United States from enjoying a comfortable victory in their second game of the tournament. The game saw Carli Lloyd score twice and miss a penalty too. Match Report

Lindsey Horan's opener and a Jonna Andersson own goal saw Sweden fall to a 2-0 loss against USA, sending the latter to top of Group F. Match Report

  Dugout videos