Women’s World Cup on TV: Italy looks to surprise versus China

The buzz: Italy, playing in the Women’s World Cup for the first time in two decades, has been one of the surprises of the tournament, winning a tough group that included two top-10 teams in Australia and Brazil. Italy used just 15 players in the group stage, fewest of any team in the tournament. Barbara Bonansea, Aurora Galli and Cristiana Girelli have accounted for all seven of Italy’s goals, while the two scores that goalkeeper Laura Giuliani has conceded were the result of penalty kicks. And Italy has accomplished all that despite being outshot 41-30 and losing the possession battle in the group stage. Le Azzurre’s last trip to a Women’s World Cup knockout stage came in the debut tournament in 1991. This is China’s seventh appearance in the knockout stage; it reached at least the quarterfinals in its first six trips. China finished third in its group, losing by a goal to No. 2 Germany, beating South Africa 1-0 and then playing Spain to a scoreless draw. Its one goal scored is the fewest of any team in the knockout stage while its one goal allowed trailed only the U.S. and Germany after group play. China had even more lopsided stats than Italy in group play, getting outshot more than 2 to 1 and having the ball just more than 40% of the time.

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