Netherlands – Sweden
That is the random match. Netherlands attack strong enough to beat Sweden? An issue with Nilla Fischer would change everything but we hope and assume she is fit. But it was rather interesting to see the Swedish defense suffer against Italy.
But there are again so many chances and possibilities because both are playing very consistently the same players (except Swedens wing backs and the role of Lotta Schelin) and the same patterns and it would be nice to see if there are any good ideas at display how to use this to your own advantage. The Netherlands should be not afraid possibly if J. Andersson is playing wing back though. The interesting fact is that this could even be used by players individually as well.
That will be the stronger half of the field where the Dutch offense meets the Swedish defense and while the Dutch forwards are good enough to score if the situation is coming that suits them it can also happen they dont do even a single time in 90 minutes.
The other half sees the Netherlands defend the Swedish attack. The weaker side of both. Stina Blackstenius is sometimes let down by her first touch. But somehow she nearly always manages to get her chances and to be a threat for the opposite goal. So to cancel her out for 90 minutes is something that might or might not be done successfully by the Dutch defense. But you never know if she is chosen to play at all.
At the end it might come down to a very small detail that makes the difference. Maybe a won duel in the midfield this or the other way. Maybe who is able to bring in some fresh legs that can help and make the right substitutions (Sherida Spitse?). Maybe it will play a role that Caroline Seger looked a little bit tired at the end of the matches having had not many games played this season over 90 minutes for her club. Maybe it will be again one of Jackie Groenens fast movements that makes the difference or how many balls she is able to steal or secure in midfield. Seeing her more often in and around the opposite box would also make some decent advantage for the Netherlands.
This sems to be so 50:50. But we would slightly favor the Netherlands if the game goes to extra time if they then would go for it rather to wait for the penalties.
Germany – Denmark
Normally you might say it had been a long time since Denmarks chances had been better to beat Germany. But we will see whether they try to seize the opportunity or go for a half-hearted attempt. Another reason why everyone should be happy Austria got rewarded for their brave style.
We expect chances are still better for Germany because the probability that one of the German players will simply individually beat a Danish defender to the ball or get away from her in any situation that somehow leads to a goal is big enough.
The question is whether Germany will be strong enough to put enough pressure on Denmark to get into enough such situations close to the Danish goal. Or if Denmark manages well enough to have a majority of players close enough to the ball in these situations to help each other. But neither the friendlies earlier in the year nor the first matches here would suggest that Denmark have played compact enough to do that successfully over 90 minutes against Germany.
In fact Denmark got through by two rather lucky 1:0 wins. They were not the better team against Belgium and the weaker against Norway as well and this level of performance will be not enough even for this Germany side who also have been unconvincing in each group match.
Scoring would be needed and with arguably the three players with the best reputation playing up front you would expect they could do also much better here than what we have seen so far. The big problem might be they continue to use neither of them in the best way and instead force Especially Pernille Harder but also Katrin Veje too far back to support the defense. They can not use all three to focus mainly on attack and leave only seven to defend. But that takes too much out especially from Harder who has to do too much work in midfield to be the threat up front she could be.
Maybe now that they have reached the quarters they will switch? Harder is the one who can beat 2-3 defenders all alone when she gets a decent opportunity starting not too far away from the goal especially if she picks out the weak points in the German defense. Denmarks best chance might be to patiently wait for that opportunity and make all other players defend to have a chance to deny Germany a goal. But we will see.
Germany however have been so far away from playing their best there is no single change enough to get them set up in the best possible way. They can only try to be not quite as bad as they have been so far and at least leave as much weaknesses out as possible at the moment.
They still should prosper from having the arguably weakest opponent in the quarters again like in Rio.