What to watch for in the Women’s World Cup soccer tournament on Wednesday:
NIGERIA VS. SOUTH KOREA
Where: Stade des Alpes, Grenoble
Time: 6 a.m. PDT
TV: FS1, Universo
The buzz: Both teams were shut out in their openers — South Korea losing 4-0 to France and Nigeria falling 3-0 to Norway -- meaning anything less than a draw here likely means elimination for the loser. But something has to give since South Korea has never posted a clean sheet in a World Cup match and Nigeria hasn’t scored in its last 273 World Cup minutes. Nigeria has lost four of five previous World Cup games to Asian competition, its one win coming against North Korea in 1999. The Super Falcons have never played South Korea. Thomas Dennerby, Nigeria’s Swedish-born coach, will be managing his 11th World Cup match, tying him for ninth-most all-time.
FRANCE VS. NORWAY
Where: Stade de Nice, Nice
Time: noon PDT
TV: Ch. 11, Universo
The buzz: A win for either team would send it through to the second round and even a draw would virtually guarantee advancement. These teams are intimately familiar with one another, having met 20 times previously, with Norway winning eight of those. Seven others ended in a draw. France is unbeaten in the last nine meetings but Norway won the only World Cup clash, 2-0 in 2003. The French captain in that match was Corinne Diacre, now coach of Les Bleues. Two of France’s goals in its win over South Korea came on headers by defender Wendie Renard, at 6-foot-2 the tallest player in the tournament. In its opener Norway scored three times in the first 37 minutes — en route to a 3-0 win over Nigeria.
The buzz: As with the France-Norway game, the winner here is guaranteed a spot in the next round. A tie wouldn’t hurt either team much. Germany has never lost to Spain, winning twice and playing to two draws. Its only loss in World Cup group play came in 1995. It didn’t look good in its opener here, though, outshooting China 18-4 in a 1-0 win. Spain, playing in just its second World Cup, picked up its first win in the tournament when it beat South Africa in its opener here behind two goals from Jennifer Hermoso. Wednesday’s game will be its first in a World Cup against a European team.