World Cup Day 16: Spain can win the whole damn thing

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Spain cruised past Switzerland, 5-1

Spain cruised past Switzerland, 5-1
Photo: Abbie Parr (AP)

After a meager one-day break without games, the second half of the Women’s World Cup began with two games, on paper, that should’ve been close. Neither happened. Spain kicked Switzerland’s ass and Japan deserved to beat Norway by more than the game’s final 2-goal margin. While the Japanese were comfortable in victory, it wasn’t hard to see on a different day how Norway could’ve gotten a better result. The Swiss had as many holes as a honeycomb. How cheesy.

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Switzerland’s only goal came on one of the worst own goals you’ll ever see from Laia Codina, who decided taking a shot on her own goalkeeper was a good idea. So I guess, all of the goals in Spain’s 5-1 victory weren’t scored by the Swiss. The dominance shown by Spain was awfully reminiscent of the United States’ squads from 2015 and 2019. It starts with a ball-hawking midfield that can create turnovers and plug up routes for the opposition to counter-attack. Then comes a front line that doesn’t match opportunities. Spain had 10 shots on goal during the game and scored half. Also compare the 26 total shots compared to Switzerland’s two. It was a complete domination usually reserved for the group stage for teams that squeaked by to get into the tournament, not between two European powers in the knockout rounds.

Were Switzerland prone? Not really, it looked solid throughout the group stage and made the most of the chances it was given. Maybe all of Group A didn’t come to play, leading to both teams that advanced from Group C a place in the quarterfinals. There’s a decent chance that happens for a second straight day, as the Netherlands is a heavy favorite to beat South Africa and would face Spain in the quarterfinals. Then it’s on the United States to beat Sweden, and well, we’ll see how that goes.

Even if Spain is on the tougher side of the bracket, it can win the whole damn World Cup. With a scoring spree like we just saw, no team on the globe is good enough to stop it. However, this could also lead to a quarterfinal exit for Spain. Let’s not forget less than a week ago, Japan defeated Spain 4-0. Maybe how horrible Group A was overall will give all of us the false sense that Spain is better than it is. However, scoring five goals and having the opportunity to bag more is one heck of a convincing stat. Add Spain to the list of teams that can be the final one standing.

Japan cruises to quarterfinals

I did correctly predict a Guro Reiten goal in the Round of 16, but Norway couldn’t score any more goals than that. Japan will either face the United States in the quarterfinals, and that’ll be a matchup between the last three World Cup champions, or the Japanese will have to take down Sweden. Japan came into the tournament with the illusion that it was an aging team and this is the last tournament for the members from its last World Cup victory to pronounce themselves again. And the Japanese are damn sure playing like it. While I don’t think the Japanese can win the whole tournament, even as one of the few teams with four victories in Australia and New Zealand, they can challenge anyone and are a tough out. Either way, Japan’s quarterfinal matchup will likely see it be the underdog. And that will be interesting television. 

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