FIFAWWC Countdown: Day 58 - The group stage matches to watch

On Day 58 of our 70-Day Edge of the Crowd countdown to the much-anticipated FIFA Women’s World Cup, we’re taking a look at the matches to circle on the calendar. Having now entered the month of the tournament beginning, we are getting ready for all the action in this eminent global tournament.

With the FIFA Women's World Cup approaching, its time for fans to sit down with their calendar and work out when they won't be taking calls, scheduling meetings or attending family functions.

For those fans sitting down and working out the best matches in the group stage to watch, Edge of the Crowd has put together a handy guide of some of the reasons to block out the diary.

Group E: USA v Netherlands - 27 July (Wellington Regional Stadium)

These teams are among the top football nations in the world, and there is no difference for the women's teams, with both teams at the top of the game.

The USA are the two-time defending World Cup winners, and will be looking to keep their campaign rolling, but the Netherlands will be looking to steal a win and set themselves up for a potential run through the knockout rounds.

These two sides met in the Olympic Quarter Finals at Tokyo in 2021, and the match was a nailbiter, with a 2-2 result, before the USA won on penalties. That day, Alyssa Naeher was the hero, with three penalty saves (one in regulation and two in the shootout), with Lynn Williams a key figure, with a goal and an assist that day for the USA.

Group F: France v Brazil - 29 July (Brisbane Stadium)

This match shapes up as a battle between two of the greatest strikers in history, both in perhaps their last hurrah on the big stage, but both who will want to make an impact while they can.

Marta is a player who needs no introduction, and already has plenty of records on her resumé already. She was the first player to score at five different World Cups, and she has more World Cup goals than anyone else. She will be looking to add to that account, and make it a goal at a sixth edition.

On the other side, Eugenie Le Sommer is a legend in her own right, France's leading goalscorer too. At 34, this is likely to be her last shot at the tournament as well, and she will be hoping to lead the French side to their first World Cup final, and potentially championship.

As a match with two of the great strikers of this generation going head to head, this match is one to circle on the calendar.

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Group D: England v Denmark - 28 July (Sydney Football Stadium)

The Lionesses and the Rød-Hvide will face off in a crucial match in Group D. It's the first time in 16 years that Denmark has made the Women's World Cup, despite a ranking in the top 16, and they will be looking to make a splash.

With stars like Pernille Harder and Nadim Nadim, Denmark will have the firepower to test the Lionesses' defence, and they will need to be on their game. Of course, the flipside is that the Lionesses come into this match, this group, and this tournament as one of the favourites, on the back of winning the Euros.

With two European heavyweights going head to head, with the potential 'Group of Death' at play, this match will be one to watch, and could have major implications on the rest of the tournament.

Group C: Japan v Spain - 31 July(Wellington Regional Stadium)

These two sides will both have high hopes for the tournament, but are carrying big question marks going in. After they played off a 1-0 friendly in November 2022, where Spain took an early lead, both sides were forced back to the drawing board.

Spain struggled to find fluency with the ball in possession, spluttering and turning it over, barely able to fashion more than one chance, while Japan struggled to turn their half chances into genuine scoring opportunities, and was unable to find the back of the net.

Nine months on, this match will be a great demonstration of how these two sides have improved, and worked through their issues. With plenty on the line, both teams will be looking to do better than their friendly late last year.

Group B: Canada v Australia - 31 July (Melbourne Rectangular Stadium)

Canada is the reigning Olympic champion. Australia is the host with the hopes. This mouthwatering clash will likely decide who finishes atop Group B, and will potentially sentence one team to the harder side of the draw, while smoothing the path for the other to the pointy end of the tournament.

With star strikers like Jordyn Huitema and Sam Kerr on each side, both sides can, and will look to be aggressive. The winner of this match will go a long way to supporting the hopes and expectations of the nation, while the other team will have to lick their wounds and return to the drawing board with a tough few matches ahead.

With so much to play for, this one will definitely be a blockbuster to close out Group B, and set up the tournament.

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