What to watch for in the Women’s World Cup soccer tournament Saturday:
ITALY VS. NETHERLANDS
Where: Stade du Hainaut, Valenciennes
Time: 6 a.m. PDT.
TV: FS1, Telemundo
The buzz: No. 15 Italy, the lowest-ranked team of the eight quarterfinalists, hasn’t gotten this far since the first Women’s World Cup in 28 years. In fact it didn’t even qualify for the last four tournaments, getting knocked out by — wait for it — the Netherlands in a qualifying playoff four years ago. But it has lost just once in France, winning its group and giving up just two goals in four games. Forward Cristiana Girelli and midfielder Aurora Galli have led the offense with three goals each. The unbeaten Dutch, the reigning European champions, boast two of the world’s top players in forwards Lieke Martens and Vivianne Miedema, who have each scored twice here. Both of Martens’ goals came in a round-of-16 win over Japan, the second on a penalty kick in the 90th minute following a controversial handball call. Half of the Netherlands’ eight goals here have come in the 75th minute or later. This is just the country’s second appearance in a Women’s World Cup; four years ago it made the round of 16.
GERMANY VS. SWEDEN
Where: Roazhon Park, Rennes
Time: 9:30 a.m. PDT.
TV: FS1, Telemundo
The buzz: Second-ranked Germany, a two-time Women’s World Cup champion, has dominated its series with Sweden, winning 20 of the 28 matches including the 2003 World Cup final, a round-of-16 match four years ago in Canada and the 2016 Olympic gold medal game in Rio de Janeiro. Unbeaten Germany is the only team that has not allowed a goal in France and hasn’t conceded a score in its last 372 Women’s World Cup minutes, dating to a penalty kick in the third-place game of the last tournament. Sweden’s only loss in France came in its final group-stage game when it rested seven starters against the U.S. It then slipped past Canada, 1-0, in the round of 16 on Stina Blackstenius’ goal in the 55th minute. Sweden has advanced beyond the World Cup quarterfinals just once since 2003; Germany has failed to do just once since 1999.