Group B has been dubbed "The Group of Life" for its level of depth and competitiveness, but with Friday's second round of matches, we could start to see some stratification. England and New Zealand face near-must-win games, while group leaders Japan will take on upstarts Mexico in a match that has huge implications on the prospective order of finish.

Here are six questions heading into Friday's action:

New Zealand vs. England

Will Eniola Aluko be out to silence her critics?

The England striker recently became embroiled in a Twitter controversy after receiving criticism for her underwhelming performance against Mexico on Monday. Aluko missed several chances that could have potentially helped England avoid a disappointing 1-1 draw with Mexico. The Sky Blue FC attacker was picked ahead of vaunted young striker Ellen White for the Three Lionesses' opening match. It will be interesting to see if England coach Hope Powell selects Aluko to lead the front line once again. If so, the 24-year-old will undoubtedly look to hush up her doubters with a redemptive performance.

Can Kelly Smith inspire the Three Lionesses?

England's No. 10 is considered one of the best female players in history. The Boston Breakers attacker can be looked upon to make plays as well as score and is vital to Powell's plans. She will be the engine in midfield.

Despite providing good link-up play in the beginning against Mexico, the 32-year-old seemed to run out of steam. Her drop-off was evident in England's lackluster second half performance.

Smith will need to be at her best in Friday's match against the Football Ferns. England's knockout round aspirations depend on it.

How effective will New Zealand's long ball tactics be against England?

Head coach John Herdman's side played a direct, hard-hitting brand of soccer in its tournament debut against Japan on Monday. The game plan worked initially, as striker Amber Hearn nodded in a long pass to pull the Football Ferns to 1-1 in the 12th minute of play. The header wound up being New Zealand's only shot of the match as the team struggled to win the ball back against a technically gifted Japan side. England's been vulnerable at center back, a weakness New Zealand could exploit with its fleet of tall strikers.

Mexico vs. Japan

Can Mexico produce another rip-roaring performance?

It took about 30 minutes for Mexico to find its rhythm against England, but once it did, El Tri never looked back. The team controlled possession well and interrupted England's fluid passing game, and with a 33rd minute wonder strike from Monica Ocampo. The long-range screamer silenced England for much of the rest of the match, allowing Mexico to take a point from Monday's match.

El Tri dominated the midfield but created few promising goal-scoring opportunities. Other than the Ocampo effort, the team had just one other shot on goal throughout the match. Mexico will have to be more productive against a possession-oriented Japan team.

Will superior technical quality be enough for Japan once more?

The Group B leaders certainly made a convincing case in their opening match against New Zealand. Aya Miyama's picture perfect free kick broke what had been a deadlock, winning the game for Japan. It also displayed much-hyped Japan's technical nous.

The team will run into a Mexico side that also has proficient passing and possession skills. Whoever retains the ball the best - and finishes their chances - will likely emerge the victor.

Can Japan be more efficient in front of goal?

The team has historically had issues finishing, and certainly showed it in the team's pair of friendlies against the US in May. Against New Zealand, Japan produced 15 shots and six of them were on frame. But they still only converted once from open play.

If Japan can be more effective, they'll snag all three points, and Group B will effectively be won.