World Cup: What we've learned and what to look out for in the knockout stages

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By Jez Fielder
World Cup: What we've learned and what to look out for in the knockout stages

France 2019 heads into the knockout stages this weekend with the prospect of some mouth-watering ties.

Free-scoring USA head into their match against the unfancied Spanish after a group stage haul of 18 goals without reply. They remain the bookies' favourites for the tournament.

France are second favourites after finishing top of their group with maximum points, as did England, The Netherlands and Germany. The French have been drawn against Brazil who came third in Group C behind Italy and Australia.

That group proved to be the 'group of death' as three teams beat each other to all end up on 6 points with Jamaica taking bottom spot having lost to all three.

All groups had a fairly similar story regarding the fourth placed teams with only Scotland, who blew a 3-0 lead over tricky Argentina, registering a point as group losers. The rest go home with zero points.

In Saturday's opening fixture of the knockout stages, Germany will expect a result against Nigeria, having not yet conceded, and the Italians are fancied to progress against a Chinese side who were strong in defence and largely toothless in attack.

Never really hitting their stride in the group phase, England will be pleased with their draw for the last 16 on Sunday. Cameroon have already conceded five goals and only registered a win against group losers New Zealand. Will Phil Neville and the Lionesses turn their promise into reward?

In Women's World Cup history, it's never a good idea to write off Japan, but it could be that a strong Dutch side will have too much for them on Tuesday.

Sweden and Canada are well matched for this round of 16. Both finished in second place in their group with six points. Too close to call.

The race for the Golden Boot is currently tied at 5 each between Alex Morgan of the USA and Australia's Sam Kerr. If it's tied at the end of the tournament, the winner will be decided on number of assists. But Morgan is likely to have an easier time against Spain than Kerr can expect against a well-organised Norwegian eleven.

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