Australia’s Sam Kerr Says She Expects to Return Against Canada

Australia’s Sam Kerr Says She Expects to Return Against Canada

Credit…John Cowpland/Associated Press

As the World Cup wraps up its first full week of matches, the focus has shifted to teams’ vying for position in tightly contested groups. For Sweden, Italy, France and Brazil, a win on Saturday will most likely go a long way toward determining if they will finish first in their groups, and thus who has an easier path forward in the tournament.

Sweden vs. Italy

Sweden barely came out of its first match with a win, snatching one only when Amanda Ilestedt scored in stoppage time to produce a 2-1 victory over South Africa, which had stunned the Swedes, one of the tournament favorites, by taking an early lead.

Italy also struggled in its World Cup opener, only scoring in the 87th minute to best Argentina, 1-0. This matchup will probably decide who wins their group. The teams met most recently in the final of the 2022 Algarve Cup in Portugal, where Sweden beat Italy in a penalty shootout.

France vs. Brazil

France is under pressure. After months of intrasquad turmoil, a coaching change only months before the tournament and a scoreless draw with Jamaica to open the World Cup, the French need to win or (at worst) to not lose against Brazil. If the French fall, their path to the knockouts get more complicated, and the finger-pointing will begin.

Brazil, on the other hand, could be setting itself up to get on a roll. It opened play with a 4-0 victory over Panama, and a win over France would put the Brazilians atop Group F with some maneuverability in their final game against Jamaica.

Panama vs. Jamaica

This game is a rematch of one in the 2018 Concacaf Women’s Championship, where Jamaica beat Panama on penalties in the bronze medal match. Jamaica’s win sent it to the 2019 World Cup, and sent Panama into a playoff for a World Cup place that it eventually lost. That delayed Panama’s World Cup debut until this year, when the field was expanded to 32 teams.

Unfortunately for the Panamanians, Jamaica looks to be in top form, and it will only be emboldened by its showing in a draw against France in its opener. Jamaica has its own concerns, though: Its top player, Khadija Shaw, the striker more familiar to fans as Bunny, received a red card in the France game and is suspended for the Panama match.

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