The tension is about to ratchet up a notch for France and Nigeria as the respective winners of Groups D and C head into the quarter-finals with their unbeaten records intact. Both appear well equipped to steer a route into the semi-finals at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup Canada 2014, with Les Bleuettes starting as favourites against Korea Republic and the Super Falconets holding all the cards against New Zealand.
Their opponents have nothing to lose, in contrast, and while the Taeguk Ladies can draw strength from their remarkable recovery during the group stage, New Zealand will be relishing their first taste of the knockout phase at this level. FIFA.com takes a closer look at the ties in store.
Nigeria-New Zealand, Moncton, 17 August, 17.00 (local time)
Runners-up in 2010 and semi-finalists two years ago, Nigeria will begin their sixth consecutive quarter-final hoping to seal a third straight last-four berth. The team coached by Peter Dedevbo have shown plenty of signs that they can achieve just that, and along with France and Germany they remain one of just three sides unbeaten so far. Their pace and physical power have been particularly impressive, while their mental strength shone through as they came back from behind against both Mexico and England.
As for New Zealand, they will be gracing this stage of the competition for the first time, having ended a run of four successive group stage exits. "We want to go even further," explained midfielder Megan Lee, who lit up her team's encounter with Costa Rica, but the Junior Football Ferns will need to steel themselves for a stern examination. Not only must they maintain the attacking qualities that helped them down the Costa Ricans 3-0 and Paraguay 2-0, they will need to tighten up the rearguard that shipped four unanswered goals against France – especially with the Africans' Loveth Aylia and Asisat Oshoala in irrepressible mood.
France-Korea Republic, Montreal, 17 August, 19.00 (local time)
Hard as it may be to believe, France's Gilles Eyquem has not been fully satisfied with his team's performances, despite their tally of 12 goals in three games. His players know all about success, with many clinching the U-17 global crown in 2012 and the European U-19 title the following year, but their demanding coach is keen to avoid a slip in standards or a sense of complacency taking root. Either way, his charges certainly have the talent to advance, with Claire Lavogez returning after 70 minutes of rest against Paraguay and Griedge Mbock Bathy continuing to marshal the tightest defence at Canada 2014, which has been breached just once thus far.
The challenge could not be much stiffer for Korea Republic, who reached the semi-finals in 2010 and the last eight two years ago. On the plus side, various members of the current squad triumphed at the U-17 Women's World Cup in 2010 and will be buoyed by that experience, with Jang Selgi, Kim Inji and Lee Geummin almost operating on a telepathic level. The Taeguk Ladies are thus fully capable of making life tough for Les Bleuettes, and belief will be high in the Asian side's ranks after they downed Mexico in a hard-fought game that promised elimination for the losers.
Player to watch
A substitute in France's opening 5-1 win against Costa Rica, Clarisse Le Bihan was unable to find the net during her cameo role, but she more than made up for that in her team's next outing. Brought off the bench once again, Le Bihan struck a pair of goals to help down New Zealand 4-0, and she was promptly rewarded with a starting berth as Les Bleuettes then got to grips with Paraguay. Although the Brittany-born forward did not register in the 3-0 victory, she was named Live Your Goals Player of the Match, and she will now be keen to reach fresh heights against Korea Republic, whether she starts on the pitch or not.
20 – The number of players fielded by Gilles Eyquem during France's three group games, with only third-choice goalkeeper Deborah Garcia yet to feature. Captain and defender Griedge Mbock Bathy is the sole member of the squad to have contested every minute of the tournament so far.
"Like several of my team-mates, I've already played in and won a World Cup, at U-17 level in 2010, and that's a joy you never forget. I hope to experience it again, and I'm sure we have what it takes to do it," Lee Geummin, Korea Republic forward.