The third and final round of the group stage begins today with Group B. There are two games in each group, and both games are played simultaneously to prevent giving an advantage to any teams by them knowing the results of the other game and, therefore, what result is required to advance. (It does not always help.)
Going into the third round, we know that there are two groups (Group E and Group F) that have two remaining teams with zero points; therefore, any team with 4 or more points is guaranteed to advance. This means that in addition to the United States (#1), Germany (#2), France (#3), England (#4), Canada (#5), Netherlands (#7), Sweden (#9), and Italy (#16), mentioned yesterday, Japan (#8) has also guaranteed a spot in the knockout stage. It also means that any of the following teams will qualify for one of the remaining 7 spots by either a win or tie today: Norway, Nigeria, Spain, China, Brazil, and Australia. All other teams need a win and/or some help from other results.
In Group B, Germany was already guaranteed to advance, playing to win the group (and, most likely, avoid an immediate match against the United States), whereas South Africa needed to beat Germany, hope that the other game did not end in a tie, and also overcome the goal differential deficit just to have a chance to advance; that was a very tall order. Meanwhile, both Spain and China would advance with a tie in their game.
- Germany 4
- South Africa 0
Stade de la Mosson, Montpelier: Germany showed no intention of taking it easy in this game. Melanie Leupolz scored a header from a corner kick in the 14th minute to give them the lead, follow by more first half goals from Sara Däbritz in the 29th minute and Alexandra Popp in the 40th minute, plus another in the second half courtesy of Lina Magull in the 58th minute. South Africa, unfortunately, becomes the first team eliminated in this edition of the World Cup.
- Spain 0
- China 0
Stade Océane, Le Havre: Although both teams could advance with a tie, they both legitimately played for a victory. Spain completely dominated the game on almost every statistic, including 61% possession and a 24-1 advantage on shots, except for the one statistic that matters: final score. Despite many strong opportunities, China kept them out of the goal. Both teams advance on the tie, with Spain taking second place in the group on goal differential.
- 1st: Germany 9 (3-0-0, +6) [advances]
- 2nd: Spain 4 (1-1-1, +1) [advances]
- 3rd: China 4 (1-1-1, +0) [advances]
- 4th: South Africa 0 (0-0-3, -7) [eliminated]
Germany will face a third place team from Group A, Group C, or Group D (too many candidates to enumerate). Spain will face the first place team in Group F (either the United States or Sweden). China will face the first place team in Group C or Group D (Italy, England, Japan, Brazil, or Australia). The knockout stage pairings will get much clearer over the next few days.