The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup has had a little bit of everything: lopsided wins, surprising underdogs, stunning individual wins, and even more unbelievable losses. It’s a tournament in which rankings are meaningless, no team’s legacy is assured, and anything can happen. It is, in essence, the perfect proof of concept that the women’s game has evolved and the world is just now catching up.
With all of group stage matches in the books, the surviving teams now look forward to the tournament’s knockout rounds, a collection of win-or-go-home matches that will whittle the field even further as we head toward a final that could very well make history. Ahead of the next nail-biting round of football, we’ve broken down the biggest matchups to watch out for and when to watch them. As for the where, every World Cup game is on FS1 and streaming on the Fox Sports app.
Here’s what you need to know ahead of the Women’s World Cup knockout rounds.
Saturday, Aug. 5th
Switzerland (Group A Winner) vs. Spain (Group C Runner-Up), 1 a.m. ET
Switzerland is coming off a group win in which it posted three clean sheets, which is quite the achievement in a tournament that’s seen a whole lot of goals. Unfortunately, the Swiss scored a pair of goals in their opener against the Phillipines and have not scored since. They’ll need to defend better than ever to disrupt Spain’s possession-based attack and take advantage of whenever counterattacks arise. For Spain, which suffered a heavy defeat against Japan, La Roja need to pass with purpose and find a way to break down Switzerland’s stingy defense.
Japan (Group C Winner) vs. Norway (Group A Runner-Up), 4 a.m. ET
No team is putting the ball into the back of the net better than Japan. They’re scoring seemingly every time they move the ball into the opponent’s final third and they looked comfortable defending against Spain. Norway struggled in its group stage, losing one game, drawing another, and winning its third match. That inconsistency might hurt them against a Japan team that dominated its own group, but if star striker Ada Hegerberg is able to return from a groin injury that cost her the final two games of the group, Norway will have a shot.
Netherlands (Group E Winner) vs. South Africa (Group G Runner-Up), 10 p.m. ET
South Africa stunned Italy to win their match and advance out of the group stage for the first time in history. They’re the clear underdogs in this match, but don’t count them out. If they can shore up what has been a porous defense and lean into their physical style of play, they may give the Dutch problems in the midfield. Of course, Oranje are the favorites for a reason, so expect them to play it cool under pressure and create dangerous chances in the final third.
Sunday, Aug. 6th
Sweden (Group G Winner) vs. United States (Group E Runner-Up), 5 a.m. ET
It’s rare to get a game worthy of a World Cup final in the round of 16, but we’re getting exactly that between these two teams, which were drawn into one another’s group in the five previous tournaments. The U.S. struggled in their group stage play and will need to sort things out — in their first-choice XI, in their midfield, in their attack — if they hope to hold off a very motivated, very physical Swedish side. For Sweden, set pieces will be key. If they can find a way to get Amanda Ilestedt in the box and on the end of an aerial ball, it might be over for the USWNT.
Monday, Aug. 7th
Australia (Group B Winner) vs. Denmark (Group D Runner-Up), 3:30 a.m. ET
The Matildas pulled off a miracle Down Under to advance out of their group. If all goes right, their dominant performance against Canada gave them confidence and let star striker Sam Kerr rest to the point that she can put in some minutes on the pitch. They’ll have the home-field advantage here, but don’t count out Denmark and their defense that only allowed one goal in their group.
England (Group D Winner) vs. Nigeria (Group B Runner-Up), 6:30 a.m. ET
England’s Lauren James is having the tournament of her life and Nigeria will need to find a way to slow her down if they hope to beat a well-coached and talented English side, as Sarina Wiegman has done a spectacular job leading the Lionesses. But the Super Falcons have a great coach, too, in Randy Waldrum, along with a threatening presence upfront in Barcelona striker Asisat Oshoala. They’ll have to start scoring more goals though if they hope to test England.
Tuesday, Aug. 8th
Columbia (Group H Winner) vs. Jamaica (Group F Runner-Up), 4 a.m. ET
This match, more than any other knockout stage game, is the kind of thrilling toss-up you hope for in the do-or-die rounds. Jamaica is another team that has not conceded a goal during the tournament, while Columbia is still riding high from their win over Germany that ended up being gigantic in keeping the Germans from advancing. They faced a setback against Morocco, but their passing game is strong and they’ve got dazzling talent upfront. For Jamaica, getting the ball to the feet Khadija “Bunny” Shaw and letting her test Columbia’s backline will be key.
France (Group F Winner) vs. Morocco (Group H Runner-Up), 7 a.m. ET
Not only did France confidently put away a Brazil side that was looking to send star forward Marta out on a high note, they were also able to rest some of their star players like Wendie Renard in their final group stage match against Panama. France has the talent, but Morocco has been full of fight throughout the tournament. They bounced back after a crushing defeat in their match against Germany to make it out of the group in their first World Cup appearance. They’ve got the fans behind them and something to prove.