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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Brazil, Group D begin action

By John Carr, ESPN Stats & Information
Group D's first day of matches at the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011 is Wednesday and will showcase Brazil, one of the tournament favorites looking to claim its first title, and Norway, who have a significant Women's World Cup history that it will try to recapture.
• Norway, who reached the final of the first two Women's World Cups, winning in 1995, will look to get off to a good start in this year's tournament by earning its fifth straight WWC opening game victory. Norway enters its match with Equatorial Guinea (the tournament's lowest ranking team at 61st in the world) ranked ninth and with a 4-1-0 record in WWC openers, boasting a +8 goal difference (14 goals for, 6 goals against).
•  This will be Equatorial Guinea's first-ever Women's World Cup match as it joins Nigeria and Ghana as the third African nation to appear at the tournament. According to FIFA, this will be Equatorial Guinea's first official match played outside of Africa.
•  Brazil and Australia meet in a rematch of their 2007 quarterfinal, when Brazil took a 2-0 lead in the 23rd minute before Australia equalized in the 68th minute. Brazil has won all five of its opening matches and has not lost a match in the group stage since its 7-1 defeat to Germany in the last match of the 1995 group stage. Brazil has advanced past the group stage every World Cup since the 1995 tournament.
•  Australia's lone World Cup win (the fewest among teams with at least 10 Women's World Cup matches played) came against Ghana in the 2007 tournament, where the Aussies advanced out of the group stage for the first time.
•  Brazil and Western New York Flash star striker Marta is tied for fifth all-time in Women's World Cup goals with 10, two behind Michelle Akers (USA) and one behind Sun Wen (CHN) and Bettina Wiegmann (GER). Entering the tournament, Germany's Birgit Prinz is the leader with 14.