TODAY’S GAMES <i> (All Times Pacific)</i>
China vs. Russia
* Site--Spartan Stadium, San Jose
* Time--5 p.m. * TV--ESPN2.
* Update--This shapes up as one of the more intriguing matchups in the tournament, pitting Russia’s size and power against China’s speed and skill. Normally, speed and skill prevail, but the narrow field will work in the Russians’ favor, allowing them to clog the defense and deny the Chinese the space they need to create scoring opportunities. China has a superb playmaker in Sun Wen, but if it is forced to change tactics and shoot from long range, Coach Ma Yuanan’s team might struggle. Russia, sparked offensively by Olga Letuchova’s two goals and three assists, commits few fouls, and China is not far behind. The stakes are raised now, though, and a heated game is possible. A loss by China would be an upset, but it is not entirely implausible.
* Prediction--China by two goals.
Norway vs. Sweden
* Site--Spartan Stadium.
* Time--7:30 p.m. * TV--ESPN2 (tape-delayed at 9).
* Update--This will be the 30th game in a series between the Scandinavian neighbors that began in 1978. World champion Norway holds a 14-10-5 edge, but that is deceptive in two ways. The Swedes won seven and tied three of the first 10 games, but the Norwegians have won the last seven. In their most recent game, at the Algarve Cup in Portugal in March, Norway won, 2-1. Norwegian captain Linda Medalen’s face is black and blue but she did not break her nose, as feared, against Japan on Saturday and will play. Norway is tied with the U.S. with a tournament-high 13 goals, three by Ann Kristin Aarones. Sweden has scored only six. The Norwegians have given up only two goals and the Swedish defense has been equally stingy, giving up three on the play of goalkeeper Ulrika Karlsson. The rivalry is intense, so a closely fought game is expected.
* Prediction--Norway by a goal.