England went into this Women’s World Cup facing an arduous route to the final but results have gone their way, thanks to Germany’s shock early exit and Olympic champions Canada’s poor showing.

Instead of facing either the Canadians or Australia in Brisbane in the Round of 16, Sarina Wiegman’s side will instead take on surprise package Nigeria, who beat the Matildas in the group stage.

Instead of facing pre-tournament favourites Germany in the quarter-final, England – should they progress to the last eight – will face either Colombia or Jamaica, a game they should also win based on the Fifa world rankings (Colombia are ranked 25th and Jamaica 43rd, compared to England in fourth).

Winning that would set up a semi-final against one of Australia, Denmark, France or Morocco. A clash with the hosts in Sydney would be a huge occasion and a tough game given that they inflicted the first defeat of Wiegman’s reign earlier this year.

France also deserve respect having come through the group stages unbeaten, and Denmark pushed the Lionesses all the way in the group stage, hitting the post late on when searching for an equaliser.

However, England are unlikely to have a better opportunity than this to reach their first World Cup final given how kind results have been elsewhere.

Women’s World Cup Round of 16 predictions

Switzerland vs Spain, Sat Aug 5, 6am, Auckland, BBC

Switzerland have been very resilient and hard to play against in the group stage but Spain should have too much quality for them.

Winners: Spain

Japan vs Norway, Sat Aug 5, 9am, Wellington, ITV

Japan have been the most impressive side in the group stage while Norway just about got out of their group but you never know what you’re going to get from them.

Winners: Japan

Netherland vs South Africa, Sun Aug 6, 3am, Sydney, BBC

The Dutch have been quietly impressive so far and face a South Africa side thrilled just to get out of their group.

Winners: Netherlands

Sweden vs USA, Sun Aug 6, 10am, Melbourne, ITV

The tie of the round, pairing reigning champions, but badly out-of-sorts, United States against a strong and physical Sweden. The Americans could easily be knocked out.

Winners: Sweden

England vs Nigeria, Mon Aug 7, 8.30am, Brisbane, BBC

The Lionesses have hit upon an exciting 3-5-2 formation and look to be finding their best form at just the right time.

Winners: England

Australia vs Denmark, Mon Aug 7, 11.30am, Sydney, BBC

Denmark caused England problems in the group stage but home advantage should see the Matildas progress.

Winners: Australia

Colombia vs Jamaica, Tue Aug 8, 9am, Melbourne, ITV

The Colombians have been one of the most thrilling and entertaining sides at this tournament – expect their journey to continue.

Winners: Colombia.

France vs Morocco, Tue Aug 8, midday, Adelaide, BBC

The French have not been at their best and looked a little pedestrian in the group stages but they should be too strong for first-time qualifiers Morocco.

Winners: France