Questions we have after seeing each World Cup favorite in action
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One down, two to go. All 24 participating nations have played a group stage match, and with 90 minutes of football providing a fresh - albeit small - sample size, it's back to the drawing board for a slew of teams.

Highlighting the early efforts of the eight highest-ranked sides at the World Cup in France, here's a look at one question for each of the countries with realistic title ambitions.

United States

Can Alex Morgan break the single-tournament scoring record?

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Look past the unnecessary late goal celebrations in the United States' record-breaking 13-0 victory over Thailand on Tuesday and it was a scary performance for the World Cup holder, highlighted by Morgan's five goals. With the U.S. certain to make a deep run, Morgan, 29, appears set to etch her name in the record books.

With her quintet versus Thailand, Morgan now has eight World Cup goals. She's seven short of Brazilian legend Marta's all-time standard of 15 and is now just five back of Michelle Akers' single-tournament record of 10 goals. With a straightforward match against Chile preceding a Group F finale against Sweden, Morgan may very well snatch the record before the knockout stage.


Can Germany still top Group B without Dzsenifer Marozsan?

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There are no guarantees, but winning a group typically safeguards a more facile knockout round foe. With star midfielder Marozsan ruled out for the two remaining group stage tilts with a broken toe suffered in the narrow win over China, Germany may now face a challenge for Group B honors from Spain.

A spirited second half versus South Africa saw youthful Spain come from behind with three goals after the break, and Atletico star Jenni Hermoso has proved herself a versatile threat. While it's uncertain who coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg will insert in the starting XI to replace Marozsan, Wednesday's meeting with La Roja in Valenciennes is rife with implications.


Are the Lionesses too reliant on their right side?

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The Lionesses were far from their best in the 2-1 victory over neighboring Scotland, with a positive first-half followed by an ennui-triggering second stanza. Worries that England coach Phil Neville wouldn't get his formation or tactics right were dispelled in the opening 45 minutes, though opponents may fancy targeting a lopsided attack.

Right-back Lucy Bronze and winger Nikita Parris were the most successful alliance with a match-high 37 passes between the two resulting in 40.6 percent of England's total attacks. Bronze's average position was in Scotland's half, hinting that opponents may overload that side of the pitch, forcing the onus on left-back Alex Greenwood and Beth Mead. It's a minor issue that could prove major.


Will Les Bleues prove to be the United States' kryptonite?

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For fear of getting ahead of ourselves, barring an unlikely disaster, Group A favorite France is on a quarterfinal collision course with the United States. Speaking of dread, following the 4-0 drubbing of South Korea, France coach Corinne Diacre offered, "If we can strike fear in to these sides then that would be great."

Considering the Americans' minor shortcomings - they're the oldest squad at the World Cup and have attacker Crystal Dunn deputizing at left-back without a true backup - Les Bleues' bevy of wide players could exploit Jill Ellis' squad. Dribbling whiz Delphine Cascarino, 22, and PSG star Kadi Diani, 24, could both give Dunn headaches. Also, Wendie Renard should relish marking Alex Morgan.


How far can Canada make it without goals?

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Anyone privy to Canada's World Cup tuneups in the calendar year would feign surprise at the plucky 1-0 victory over Cameroon on Monday. Tedious but efficient, Canada kept a ninth clean sheet in 10, but star striker Christine Sinclair was routinely too isolated despite the creative efforts of wingers Nichelle Prince and Janine Beckie.

Whether Canada can continue to grind out victories in the absence of scoring remains to be seen, though it's difficult to look past a one-goal-per-match rate in 2019 skewed by a three-goal showing against Mexico in May. Sinclair arrived in France just three short of matching Abby Wambach's international record of 184 goals. That number appears miles away.


Can the Matildas find a tactical balance?

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No top-eight side had as shocking an opener as sixth-ranked Australia. Italy marked its return to the World Cup following a 20-year hiatus with a 95th-minute winner against the Matildas in Valenciennes on Sunday, and for Australia, the defeat hampers chances of topping a group it was expected to win.

For coach Ante Milicic, the task is now to find a balance between a high-flying and explosive forward corps led by Sam Kerr and a weak defense playing a perilously high line. Next up is a clash with Brazil, whose thriving attack should challenge the Matildas' backline, perhaps prompting Milicic to sacrifice surging runs forward for defensive fortitude in a must-win fixture.


Is Japan's staunch defense enough to ensure progression?

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Argentina was widely considered one of the worst teams in the tournament, and for a side in the infantile stages of embracing women's football, it's an understandable position. Still, the South Americans earned a maiden World Cup point in the 0-0 stalemate against Japan, a shocking result for the 2011 winner and 2015 finalist.

Pre-tournament concerns that Asako Takakura's lot would struggle to score were only amplified with the draw, and suddenly, with two remaining Group D matches coming against quartet favorite England and upstart Scotland, Japan risks missing out on the knockout round. Two shots on target while boasting 72 percent possession isn't going to cut it.


Can Vivianne Miedema recapture her Arsenal form?

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A potent Dutch attack was expected to easily guide the reigning European champ past New Zealand on Tuesday. Instead, it was the Football Ferns who were poised to steal the show courtesy of resolute defending. Arsenal-bound second-half sub Jill Roord's added-time goal saved the Netherlands' blushes, though it was her Gunners teammate Miedema whose performance was most noteworthy - and not for the right reasons.

The 22-year-old angular striker, who just shattered the WSL single-season scoring standard, struggled amid intense pressure from New Zealand. She routinely failed to find wingers Lieke Martens and Shanice van de Sanden, both of whom were also poor, or the central runs of another Arsenal standout, Danielle van de Donk. Miedema will hope to find her form against Cameroon before a pivotal Group E closer versus Canada.

Questions we have after seeing each World Cup favorite in action
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