Sweden celebrates a win over the United States during a match between Sweden and the United States at the Women’s World Cup in Germany, Wednesday. (AP)

Sweden celebrates a win over the United States during a match between Sweden and the United States at the Women’s World Cup in Germany, Wednesday. (AP)

The quarter finals in the Women’s World Cup, transpiring in Germany, begin today. The Germans are defending champions as well as hosts, and they won all three of their group stage games. Among the eliminated teams are New Zealand, North Korea, and Columbia, all of which earned just one point, and Canada and Equatorial Guinea, which earned none.

In days of not-so-old, remember?
You could always say
That Norway, China, or the team
Here in the U.S.A,
Would win the Women’s Cup, for sure.
The others would look on
As form prevailed without surprise,
But now those days are gone.
The Germans drew the fans, of course.
Brazil’s been known to dance.
But who’d have figured one team
Winning two would be from France?

The French team finished a strong second in Group A, in Women’s World Cup group play last week, and they’ve scored as many goals – seven – as host Germany and Brazil, both of which finished group play undefeated.

Olde England started poorly,
Unless you’re from Mexico…
The two teams drew, but England
Won their next two games, and so
The English meet the French today…
Ah, shades of Agincourt…
That’s history, I know, I know…
And I should stick to sport.

In what will be a less dramatic quarter final, if favored Germany has anything to say about it, the host team will meet Japan.

The U.S. team had never lost a group stage match in any World Cup until Sweden beat them on Wednesday. As a result of finishing second to Sweden in Group C, the U.S. must play Brazil tomorrow, by which time U.S. Coach Pia Sundhage must hope that her team will have gotten faster, especially at the back, or that the Brazilians will have grown older, slower, and less imaginative over the next day or so.

In times like these I wonder if
I should depend on rime?
It is, I fear, for U.S. fans
A scary sort of time:
If Marta cannot be contained
Except by fouls and punches.
Brazil, like Sweden, may prevail
By scoring goals in bunches.

Even a small bunch might be sufficient against a U.S. team that could only manage one goal on Wednesday and five total against North Korea and Columbia, both of which have been eliminated. Sweden, meanwhile, will face Australia in tomorrow’s other quarterfinal match.

Brazil has never won the Cup.
The Germans have won twice.
If England or Australia won
It might be kind of nice.
The Swedes can’t be discounted,
And Japan has played quite well…
And if the U.S. should prevail,
Well, sure, that would be swell.

In any case, the days are gone
When just a couple teams
Could bear with valid confidence
A country’s soccer dreams.

The four teams that survive this weekend’s matches will play in the semi-finals on Wednesday. The Championship will be decided in Frankfurt on Sunday, July 17th.