With tension, great goals and penalty shootout wins, the first stage of the Fifa Women’s World Cup knock-outs delivered and there’s no doubt more drama to come as we head into the quarter-finals.
European champions England overcame Nigeria on penalties to progress and they face Colombia in the last eight on Saturday, 12 August.
Also aiming to reach the semi-finals are co-hosts Australia and former champions Japan, while France and Spain are both looking strong as they aim to win the tournament for the first time.
Here’s how all eight teams are shaping up.
Quarter-final opponents: France (Saturday, 12 August, 08:00 BST)
World Cup 2023 top scorer: Hayley Raso (three goals)
The World Cup co-hosts are looking to make history by progressing beyond the quarter-finals for the first time, and they’ve been looking stronger as the tournament has gone on.
Australia followed up an eye-catching 4-0 win against Canada in their final group game with a comfortable 2-0 victory against Denmark.
The big boost for them as they head deeper into the tournament is the return to fitness of star player Sam Kerr, who played her first minutes of the World Cup when she came on as a second-half substitute against Denmark.
Former England and Arsenal defender Alex Scott on BBC One: “Australia have the momentum, and there are plenty of positives to take from that game [against Denmark].
“The main one is that Sam Kerr got minutes ahead of the next game.”
Key stat: Australia have kept a clean sheet in consecutive Fifa Women’s World Cup matches for the first time, after 30 games in the competition. They have kept more clean sheets at this tournament (three) than they had managed across their previous seven World Cups combined (two in 26 games).
Quarter-final opponents: England (Saturday, 12 August, 11:30 BST)
World Cup 2023 top scorer: Linda Caicedo, Catalina Usme (both two goals)
The group stage was marked by the rise of the underdogs as unfancied teams claimed unexpected results against traditional World Cup heavyweights.
Colombia have been a surprise package, beating Germany and South Korea during the group stage and overcoming Jamaica in the last 16.
This is the furthest they have been at a Women’s World Cup – and they face a tough test against England, but their mix of impressive youth and experience means they cannot be underestimated.
Former England defender Gilly Flaherty on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra: “I think England need to be very wary of Mayra Ramirez and Linda Caicedo. They are two top players.
“In general, Colombia are very physical and they aren’t afraid to get their foot stuck in.”
Key stat: No less than 75% of Colombia’s overall wins at the Fifa Women’s World Cup have come at this tournament (three out of four). Prior to the 2023 tournament, Colombia had won just one of their seven games in the competition (2011 and 2015 – two draws and four defeats).
Quarter-final opponents: Colombia (Saturday, 12 August, 11:30 BST)
World Cup 2023 top scorer: Lauren James (three goals)
England are looking to build on their European Championship triumph last year by winning the Women’s World Cup for the first time.
The Lionesses improved after a slow start to the tournament, thrashing China 6-1 in their final group game, but they were far from their best as they scraped past Nigeria in the last 16.
They did come out on top in a penalty shootout to win that game, so that will give them confidence for similar situations going forward, but lost three-goal top scorer Lauren James to suspension after she was sent off.
Keira Walsh returns, however, and that will boost England’s hopes of reaching the quarter-finals.
Anita Asante, former England defender, on BBC Radio 5 Live: “England are very lucky to have progressed to the quarter-finals and they definitely need to step up performances if they want to get all the way to a final.”
Key stat: England have had 71 separate sequences of 10 or more passes at this year’s Fifa Women’s World Cup, more than any other side.
Quarter-final opponents: Australia (Saturday, 12 August, 08:00 BST)
World Cup 2023 top scorer: Kadidiatou Diani (four goals)
Could this finally be France’s year?
They’ve often had the quality but their best result so far is a fourth-place finish in 2011.
The quarter-finals are as far as they’ve got in each of the past two Women’s World Cups but they are looking strong under Herve Renard at this tournament.
They are unbeaten so far, finishing top of Group F with a draw and two wins – beating Brazil – and they thrashed Morocco 4-0 in the last 16.
Anita Asante, former England defender, on BBC One: “France have shown that they have developed relationships within this tournament, and rhythm in their play.”
Key stat: France allow just 5.3 opposition passes on average for each defensive intervention they make, the lowest figure of any of the remaining eight sides.
Quarter-final opponent: Sweden (Friday, 11 August, 08:30 BST)
World Cup 2023 top scorer: Hinata Miyazawa (five goals)
Japan won the Women’s World Cup in 2011 and went close to replicating that four years later, but finished as runners-up.
At the last World Cup, they went out in the last 16 but they are a team in form, with a 100% record so far at this tournament.
They have scored 14 goals, conceding just one, and in and Hinata Miyazawa they possess the World Cup’s leading scorer. On their showing so far, they are going to take some stopping.
Eniola Aluko, former England forward, on ITV1: “These Japan players are at the height of their confidence – the chemistry, the flow, the timing. They are really looking like an unbeatable team – how do you stop them now?”
Key stat: Japan have made 49 passes that have broken the opposition’s defensive line at this tournament, the most of any side.
Quarter-final opponent: Spain (Friday, 11 August, 02:00 BST)
World Cup 2023 top scorer: Jill Roord (four goals)
The Netherlands are bidding for their first Women’s World Cup trophy, and to go one better than they did four years ago, when they lost the USA in the final.
Unbeaten in their six games, they finished top of a group that contained the USA, before beating South Africa 2-0 in the last 16.
With only one goal conceded so far, the Netherlands’ impressive defence sets them up well against free-scoring Spain.
Key stat: The Netherlands have forced 85 turnovers high up the pitch, the most of any team in the competition, ahead of opponents Spain (74). Of those 85 high turnovers, 15 have resulted in a shot and three have resulted in a goal – both of which are also tournament highs.
Quarter-final opponent: Netherlands (Friday, 11 August, 02:00 BST)
World Cup 2023 top scorer: Aitana Bonmati, Jennifer Hermoso, Alba Redondo (three goals)
Spain got their Women’s World Cup campaign off to a flyer with 3-0 and 5-0 wins against Costa Rica and Zambia respectively but a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Japan served as a bit of a reality check for the Spanish.
They responded to that final group game loss by thumping Switzerland 5-1 and with two-time Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas getting back to full fitness, they will undoubtedly give the Netherlands plenty to think about in what promises to be one of the standout games of the quarter-finals.
Laura Georges, former France international, on BBC One: “Against Switzerland it was the Spain that we know – that like to keep the ball, move around, work together as a team.
“The difference between this Spain against Switzerland and the Spain we saw against Japan was that they were really precise with the ball, really accurate and really clinical in front of goal. That made the difference.”
Key stat: Spain have initiated their open play sequences at an average of 53 metres from their own goal at the Women’s World Cup, the highest up the pitch of any team.
Quarter-final opponents: Japan (Friday, 11 August, 08:30 BST)
World Cup 2023 top scorer: Amanda Ilestedt (three goals)
The USA may not have been at their best at this Women’s World Cup but for Sweden to see off the world number one team and defending champions in the last 16 is a very eye-catching result.
They certainly rode their luck at times but Zecira Musovic produced some hugely impressive saves that saw her named the player of the match, and she could be the difference once again if Sweden are to overcome Japan.
Sweden beat England at the 2019 World Cup to finish third, and they will be hoping to reach the final this time.
Fran Kirby, England forward, on ITV1: “I don’t think Sweden deserved it [to beat the USA], they didn’t create anything and the USA were the better team. But ultimately it’s about winning.”
Key stat: Sweden have scored three goals from corners where the first contact was a goal – no other team has scored more than one goal in this manner.
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