Each team has played at least one game so far in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France and it has already captured the attention of the sports world. We are already starting to see which teams look like forces to be reckoned with and which might not live up to their potential.
The U.S. is looking more dangerous than ever and is certainly favored to win their fourth overall and second consecutive World Cup. The American women’s team, the highest ranked team in the world, had a dominant 13-0 win over Thailand in their opening game, including five goals from their star forward, Alex Morgan.
While the US has many veterans like Morgan, their line-up is filled with young talent who play are incredibly exciting to watch. They are in Group F with Sweden, Chile, and Thailand, so their first real test will come against the Swedes, ranked ninth, who they will play in their last group stage match on June 20th.
France, as hosts, have also come out of the gates strong with two wins in their first two games. They started things off with a decisive 4-0 win against South Korea. Although they suffered a few defensive lapses in their 2-1 win against Norway, including an own goal by center back, Wendie Renard, they still found a way to come out on top with a late penalty from their number nine, Eugénie Le Sommer.
Le Sommer has scored 12 goals in her last 12 national team appearances and looks ready to lead the French to their first-ever Women’s World Cup in front of their home crowd. Norway looked fairly strong against the French but do not look the same without their star, Ada Hegerberg. Hegerberg the 23 year-old winner of the 2018 Ballon d’Or is choosing not to play as part of her protest against inequality in women’s soccer
Germany has also started off well with two 1-0 wins against China and No. 13 Spain. Although their defense has looked nearly impossible to break down, the Germans have not been putting away enough of their chances, an issue that must be addressed before the knockout stage. The No. 2 team in the world is one of the favorites to bring home their third Women’s World Cup trophy.
Brazil has had similar problems to the Germans in that even in their 3-0 win over Jamaica, they have not looked nearly clinical enough to beat teams like the U.S. who don’t have problems finding the back of the net. The Brazilians defense has proved to be an even bigger issue as shown by their 3-2 loss against Australian. They are filled with individual talent, but they have a lot to fix if they want to make a deep run in France.
The most interesting groups are certainly Groups D and C. Group D contains powerhouses No. 3 England and No. 7 Japan, but it would not be too surprising to see Argentina advance as well. Argentina pulled out a 0-0 draw against the Japanese due to an impressive performance by the Argentine defense. England did not struggle too much in their first game against Scotland, but will be facing a much harder test when they play Japan June 19.
Group C had the biggest upset of the tournament thus far, with Italy beating Australia 2-1. The Italians, who qualified for the Women’s World Cup for the first time in 20 years, came back from a 1-0 deficit with two goals from their forward Barbara Bonansea, including a 95th minute game-winner to beat one of the favorites to win the tournament in their opening game. Brazil and Jamaica, who are both yet to play the Italians, are also in the so called “group of death.”
We are not even one week into the 2019 Women’s World Cup, and the excitement and energy around it has reached new heights. The most competitive World Cup yet is sure to be one of the best ever and we can’t wait to see how it all plays out.