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Japan, Sweden brace for ultimate clash of styles at World Cup

AUCKLAND (AFP) – Japan are the revelation of the Women’s World Cup but they must brace themselves for the ultimate clash of styles when they face Sweden in the quarter-finals at Eden Park today.

The only side left in the tournament who have won the World Cup before, 2011 champions Japan have surged into the last eight with 14 goals scored in four games and one conceded.

In Hinata Miyazawa they have the leader in the race for the golden boot with five goals.

Sweden have built their success on a solid defence that has also let in just one goal, in their opening game against South Africa.

Physically they are a handful for opponents and they are particularly dangerous at set-pieces.

Japan’s midfielder Hinata Miyazawa. PHOTO: AFP

“This won’t be like the physical game we had against the USA. It will be a lot more technical and fast-paced,” Sweden coach Peter Gerhardsson told reporters on the eve of the match in Auckland.

“When we get possession we will need to move the ball quickly and make the most of our physical advantage.”

The most striking difference between the teams is in that physicality.

The average height of the Sweden side that started against the USA was six centimetres taller than the Japan team which lined up for their 3-1 win over Norway in the last round.