Women's World Cup Round of 16: Host France seeks to clear Brazilian hurdle

The Les Bleues will seek to become the first European hosts to make it past the knockouts, as they take on a resolute but injury-ridden Brazil in their Round of 16 game in Le Havre on Sunday.

FRABRA

France takes on Brazil in its Round of 16 tie in the FIFA Women's World Cup 2019 in Le Havre on Sunday.   -  Getty Images

The year was 1998. The stage was set at the Stade de France for an electric football World Cup final between Brazil and France. The former came in as the defending champion, France a first-time finalist. Zinadine Zidane played the match of his life, taking the host to its first ever title, aiding a 3-0 defeat of Brazil. The South American nation has gone on to reclaim the World Cup but 1998 still stings.

That's probably why it finds a mention each time a Franco-Brazilian contest is on the cards. With the two teams facing off in the Round of 16 in the FIFA Women's World Cup 2019 on Sunday, the rivalry renews in familiar territory.

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The countries will be facing off for the second time in the history of the tournament. Their last match in the group stage of the 2003 World Cup ended in a stalemate (1-1).

France is unbeaten in six World Cup games (five wins and a draw, which the French ultimately lost on penalties to Germany in the 2015 quarterfinals).

The A Seleção  have not tasted victory in their last three knockout stage matches at the Women's World Cup, having drawn one and lost two, failing to score in the latter two. Brazil's last victory in the knockouts came when it beat USA 4-0 in the 2007 semifinal.

The news of Marta and Formiga possibly not starting could be a possible setback to Brazil's preparations. Formiga, 41, has a troublesome ankle while Marta's muscle issues seem to be catching up with her.

 

If Marta ends up sitting this game out, it will be a big blow to the girls in yellow, especially since they're taking on an opponent they have never beaten in a women's international.

France doesn't seem any injuries concerns. Corinne Diacre has given her side's fitness a thumbs up. And fitnesss will factor in when the sides play in warm conditions in Le Havre on Sunday.

Brazil's defensive weakness has been exposed in the group stage of the tournament, a vulnerability the Les Bleues will want to exploit to their benefit.

The winner of this tie will meet the winner of the game between Spain and USA in the quarters at the Parc des Princes in Paris on 28 June.

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ROAD TO KNOCKOUTS

France

Corinne Diacre's Les Bleues made a flying start to their home World Cup as France thumped South Korea 4-0 in Paris in the tournament opener.  Eugenie Le Sommer's 11th goal in her last 11 appearances for France in all competitions gave the tournament host an early lead in Paris. Wendie Renard's brace, both headers, put the host ahead. Amandine Henry scored and completed a one-sided defeat of South Korea. Match report

France moved to the brink of qualification for the knockout phase of the Women's World Cup after beating Norway 2-1 in Nice. Valerie Gauvin chipped in with an early goal for the Les Bleues. Eugenie Le Sommer's controversial penalty spared Wendie Renard blushes after a calamitous own goal. Match report

Wendie Renard found herself in a sticky situation again, missing a penalty kick against Nigeria. She made up for it, despatching a retaken penalty for her third goal of the Women's World Cup as France edged past a 10-woman Nigeria. Match report

Brazil

Brazil striker Cristiane became the oldest scorer of a World Cup hat-trick in a fine 3-0 victory over Jamaica in their opening game of the Women's World Cup. Team-mate Formiga, at the age of 41 years and 98 days, became the oldest player to appear in the women's finals and also the first to appear in seven editions of the tournament. Brazil strolled to victory, with Cristiane the star of the show in Grenoble. Match report

Brazil faltered before the Matildas, letting them overcome a 2-0 deficit and win the game 3-2. Marta's 16th Women's World Cup goal was not enough to inspire Brazil to victory in a controversial game against Australia. Match report

Brazil moved into the last 16 of the Women's World Cup with a 1-0 win over Italy thanks to Marta's record-breaking goal. Cristiana Girelli had a goal ruled out for Italy in the first half, but Brazil's improved performance in the second half was rewarded when Marta converted from 12 yards after Elena Linari had barged into Debinha. Match report

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