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Saturday, July 9, 2011
Previewing second pair of quarterfinals


The showdown Sunday between Brazil and the United States in the quarterfinals of the Women's World Cup sets the stage for one of the pre-tournament favorites to make an early exit. The United States is ranked first in FIFA's world rankings, Brazil is third, and they could have possibly met in the final had the Americans won their group. In Sunday's other quarterfinal match, Sweden and Australia meet for the first time since the 2004 Olympics.

•  Marta, Marta, Marta. She has won an unprecedented five straight FIFA Player of the Year awards, and she's only 25 years old. Marta does not have a Women's World Cup title, however, as Brazil has finished runner-up at the last three major tournaments (2004, 2008 Olympics; 2007 Women's World Cup). Marta, who has 12 career goals at the Women's World Cup, could also set the tournament career scoring mark this year, as she trails only Germany's Birgit Prinz (14 goals).

•  Hope Solo, who is considered the best goalkeeper in the world, has not allowed a goal in 345 career minutes against Brazil. All four matches were in 2008, including the Olympic gold-medal match, when she made several great saves to keep Brazil off the scoreboard. All of those games backed up her controversial comments following the 2007 Women's World Cup, when Solo was benched in favor of Briana Scurry, who allowed four goals to Brazil in the semifinals.

•  Abby Wambach, the third-leading scorer in American history and fourth in world history, scored five goals in her first five career matches against Brazil from 2003 to 2007. But she hasn't scored in her last four matches versus Brazil, a team she hasn't faced since 2008, when she broke her leg in the last warm-up match before the Olympics. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only two teams have held Wambach scoreless in five straight matches: Germany (2001-06) and Canada (2008-09).

•  Sweden is back in the quarterfinals after missing out for the first time in its Women's World Cup history in 2007. Australia is in the quarterfinals for the second time in its history, as it reached this stage in 2007 as well.

•  Sweden became the first team to defeat the United States in the group stage at the Women's World Cup with its 2-1 win in the last match of Group C. Sweden also became the first team to defeat the United States twice in a calendar year since Norway in 2002.