The Lionesses picked up maximum points to finish top of their group, while Nigeria progressed from a tricky group that contained Australia and Canada.
England are dreaming of following last year’s European Championship success with their first Women’s World Cup trophy after winning all three of their group games.
Despite beginning the tournament with 1-0 wins over Haiti and Denmark, the Lionesses were unable to find their best form in their opening two games, raising questions as to whether they could challenge for the top prize at this tournament.
Influenced by the injury to Keira Walsh, England boss Sarina Wiegman decided to make a tactical change for the final group game against China, switching from a 4-3-3 to a 3-4-1-2 formation, allowing Lauren James to operate in a number 10 role behind Alessia Russo and Lauren Hemp.
The new formation caught China off guard, and England took full advantage, cruising to a statement 6-1 victory thanks to a James brace as well as goals from Russo, Hemp, Chloe Kelly and Rachel Daly.
England, who have never lost a competitive game under Wiegman, will now turn their attention to the knockout rounds, and they will look to draw inspiration from the fact that they have won both of their previous two last-16 ties at the Women’s World Cup.
Nigeria, meanwhile, are competing in the knockout rounds for the third time in the tournament’s history after navigating their way through a difficult group.
They held Olympic champions Canada to a goalless draw in their opening game, before pulling off a surprise 3-2 victory over tournament co-hosts Australia on Matchday Two.
They played out another goalless affair in their final group match against the Republic of Ireland to advance to the last 16 alongside Australia.
After enjoying a successful group phase, the Super Falcons will now be looking to claim their first-ever victory in the knockout rounds of the Women’s World Cup.
Having gone five games without defeat, Nigeria will certainly believe that they have the capability to trouble the European champions and create another piece of history.
England Women Women’s World Cup form:
Nigeria Women Women’s World Cup form:
We say: England Women 2-1 Nigeria Women
Nigeria have proven to be a tough team to beat in the group stages, and we think that they will run the European champions close in Monday’s encounter.
However, we believe that England will draw upon their success from last year’s European Championships to hold their nerve and claim a narrow victory over the Super Falcons.