What to watch for in the Women’s World Cup soccer tournament Tuesday:
ROUND OF 16
ITALY VS. CHINA
Where: Stade de la Mosson, Montpellier
Time: 9 a.m. Pacific
TV: FS1, Universo
The buzz: Italy, playing in the Women’s World Cup for the first time in two decades, has been one of the surprises of the tournament, winning a tough group that included two top-10 teams in Australia and Brazil. Italy used just 15 players in the group stage, fewest of any team in the tournament. Barbara Bonansea, Aurora Galli and Cristiana Girelli have accounted for all seven of Italy’s goals, while the two scores that goalkeeper Laura Giuliani has conceded were the result of penalty kicks. And Italy has accomplished all that despite being outshot 41-30 and losing the possession battle in the group stage. Le Azzurre’s last trip to a Women’s World Cup knockout stage came in the debut tournament in 1991. This is China’s seventh appearance in the knockout stage; it reached at least the quarterfinals in its first six trips. China finished third in its group, losing by a goal to No. 2 Germany, beating South Africa 1-0 and then playing Spain to a scoreless draw. Its one goal scored is the fewest of any team in the knockout stage while its one goal allowed trailed only the U.S. and Germany after group play. China had even more lopsided stats than Italy in group play, getting outshot more than 2 to 1 and having the ball just more than 40% of the time.
NETHERLANDS VS. JAPAN
Where: Roazhon Park, Rennes
Time: noon Pacific
TV: FS1, Universo
The buzz: History says this could be a high-scoring affair: These teams have met eight times previously, combining for nearly four goals a game with Japan winning five of those eight matches. Recent history says otherwise: The Netherlands has allowed multiple goals in a game just once since September, and Japan was shut out in two of its three group-stage matches. The Netherlands, the reigning European champion and ranked No. 8 in the world, was unbeaten in group play with five players combining for the team’s six goals. The Dutch have yet to trail in this tournament, just their second Women’s World Cup. They were eliminated in the round of 16 in Canada. No. 7 Japan made it to the final of the last two Women’s World Cups, beating the U.S. on penalty kicks in 2011 and losing to the Americans in 2015. But this is a different team with Asako Takakura, the first woman to manage the Japanese national team, returning just five of the 14 players who appeared in the 2015 final. Japan finished second in its group to England.