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October 02, 2003|Lisa Dillman; Randy Harvey


4:30 p.m., ESPN2, Ch. 46

How they got here: Germany easily won Group C by defeating Canada, Japan and Argentina, scoring 13 goals and allowing two. Russia led Group D until the final day, suffering its lone loss, 1-0, to China, in Portland. In Carson, it beat Australia and Ghana.

Players to watch: Russian striker Natalia Barbachina was the player of the game in the opener and redefined toughness in the second. She needed treatment on the side of the field to repair a gash in her forehead against Ghana, returned and scored a goal in the second half. Birgit Prinz, who has four goals for Germany, scored one of the best of the tournament against Argentina, putting away an acrobatic swinging volley with her right foot as she was falling the other way.

Previous appearances: Four years ago in its first World Cup, Russia reached the quarterfinals. Germany's best World Cup finish was in 1995, when it took second to Norway. Germany lost to the U.S. in the 1991 semifinals and the 1999 quarterfinals.

Quick look: Germany has never lost to Russia in 10 games, winning eight times and tying twice, while scoring 29 goals and giving up two. Russia's plodding defensive style, designed to create maximum frustration with an occasional counterattack, won't surprise Germany. Defender Steffi Jones, who injured her right knee in Germany's Group C finale against Argentina, won't play. Russia's veteran defenders and their lack of speed were exposed in the 1-0 loss to China on Sunday.

-- Lisa Dillman


7:30 p.m., ESPN2, Ch. 46

How they got here: China won Group D with a 2-0-1 record, defeating Ghana and Russia and tying Australia. Canada finished second in Group C with a 2-1 record, losing to Germany and defeating Argentina and Japan.

Players to watch: China forward Sun Wen won the Golden Ball as the MVP in the 1999 World Cup. She remains the team's dominant player, but she hasn't broken out as she did four years ago. She had five goals in the first round then. She had one this year. Bai Jie moved from left back to striker to give the Chinese another dimension on offense. She scored the other two goals. Canada is strong at forward with Charmaine Hooper, Christine Sinclair and Christine Latham. Goalkeeper Karina Leblanc is occasionally brilliant but inconsistent.

Previous appearances: The Chinese have appeared in all four Women's World Cups, advancing at least to the second round in each. They lost in the quarterfinals in 1991, the semifinals in 1995 and the final in 1999. This is the third World Cup for Canada, which is making its first appearance in the quarterfinals.

Quick look: China, ranked fourth in the world, should be a solid favorite over Canada, which is ranked 12th. But the Chinese didn't play up to their ranking in the first round. In the first round in 1999, the Chinese scored 12 goals. The Chinese don't figure to score much if Leblanc has one of her good games. An upset is possible.

-- Randy Harvey

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