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Women's World Cup Thursday predictions: Smith can shine again for USA
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Aaron Ashley
USA boss Vlatko Andonovski will be hoping for more heroics from Sophia Smith
USA boss Vlatko Andonovski will be hoping for more heroics from Sophia Smith

All eyes will be fixed firmly on Group E on Thursday as heavyweight duo USA and the Netherlands lock horns hoping to stamp their authority on the section, while Portugal bid to break their duck against minnows Vietnam.

The other match taking place comes from Group B, where co-hosts Australia attempt to make it two wins from two against Nigeria.

USA vs Netherlands (Thursday, 2am)

USA are currently favourites for Women's World Cup glory but, if they are to live up to that tag, then they will be expected to see off the Netherlands.

These two teams were involved in a classic in the quarter-final of the Olympic Games two years ago with the Stars and Stripes prevailing on penalties after a thrilling 2-2 draw.

They also did battle in the final of the last World Cup in 2019, when the USA triumphed 2-0 thanks to goals from Megan Rapinoe and Rose Lavelle.

The feeling is the Dutch have declined a bit since then so Vlatko Andonovski's side hold the aces, especially with leading striker Sophia Smith having hit the ground running.

Smith struck twice in the USA's opening 3-0 win over Vietnam, a contest in which they won the shot count 28-0, and the lively Portland Thorns forward could prove the difference against the Netherlands.

Portugal vs Vietnam (Thursday, 8.30am)

Jessica Silva could be key for Portugal against Vietnam
Jessica Silva could be key for Portugal against Vietnam

Given Vietnam's size and stature, a 3-0 defeat to Group E trailblazers and reigning world champions USA does not read too badly on paper.

However, the Stars and Stripes won the shot count 28-0 and missed a penalty, so the final scoreline could have been far more emphatic than it ultimately was.

Portugal also started with a defeat, going down 1-0 to the Dutch, but they had their moments in that contest and should prove a cut above this inferior opposition.

In Benfica's Jessica Silva, Portugal have a star and it is worth remembering that Francisco Neto's side did hold England to a goalless draw in one of their final warm-up games.

That defensive discipline suggests they should keep a clean sheet and, with them expected to carve out plenty of goalscoring chances, they can emulate the USA and win by at least three goals.

Australia vs Nigeria (Thursday, 11am)

Co-hosts Australia limped to a 1-0 win against Ireland in their Women's World Cup opener and a similar narrative may follow in their second match in Group B against Nigeria.

In the absence of injured star striker Sam Kerr, Tony Gustavsson's side lacked their usual bite and needed a second-half penalty from Stephenie Catley to land the spoils.

Kerr is set to miss out again and that means the Aussies may have to settle for another low-scoring win.

Nigeria held Canada to a goalless draw on matchday one but the Canucks missed a penalty and restricted the Nigerians to only one shot on target.

Australia, who possess greater quality than Canada, should find that breakthrough and they are unlikely to be breached against a Nigeria side that have failed to score in six of their last 10 internationals.


Women's World CupNetherlands WUSA WPortugal WAustralia WNigeria Women
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