After the group stage of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, one thing remains clear: FIFA got the world rankings right. The top four ranked teams in the world; United States, Germany, England, and France are the only teams to have won every game in the knockout stage. Not only were they four of the five teams to win all three games, but have each looked like the better team every time they step on the field.
The United States women may just have the two best teams in the World Cup on one roster. They have played 18 players thus far and it seems that no matter which of those 18 is playing the level never drops. Players like Carli Lloyd and Julie Ertz, some of the best players in women’s soccer, may rarely get to see the field during the knockout stage.
Having this deep of a bunch is a huge bonus for the U.S. tired legs shouldn’t be an issue. The real challenge for the U.S. will be that they will likely have to play France, England, and Germany to win it all. While the Americans are still the favorites to win their fourth World Cup, any of those three teams could definitely be their downfall. The United States begin on their path to glory in the knockout stage on June 24 against Spain.
The French have equally as difficult of a path to winning their first ever World Cup as the U.S. As the hosts the French will have the crowd on their side throughout the knockout stage, but they look the weakest of the top four teams. They only won their last two games by one goal, and both game-winners were controversial penalty kicks. France will need to find other ways to score for them to have any chance to beat the United States, England, and Germany. The French play their first knockout stage game against Brazil on June 23.
Like the Yanks, England hasn’t shown weakness thus far. Although their results don’t reflect it, they’ve looked dominant in every game they’ve played. Their defense has been incredible, only allowing one goal in the group stage, and their offense has consistently created a lot of quality opportunities. England’s path to glory is slightly easier than France and the U.S. as they would only have to play the winner of the France vs U.S. game, and then play Germany assuming that the favorites win each game.
Germany’s odds look better than ever to hoist the trophy in France. They are yet to concede a goal and have the easiest path of the top four teams. The Germans have faced quality teams like Spain and limited them to very few opportunities, but they have struggled to create chances for themselves. While one goal and solid defense have done the trick against China and Spain, they will need to produce more to beat potential opponents Italy, Canada, and of course the United States. Germany is lucky in that they would not face a top four team until the finals.
Other teams that have looked promising in the group stage are Australia, Netherlands, and Italy. The Netherlands won all three of their group stage games including an impressive 2-1 win over Canada, a team many people favored to make a deep run in the tournament. All of their starters have stepped up when they’ve needed them with their six goals coming from five different players. They will face a tough test against the Japanese in their knockout stage opener on June 25.
Italy have also looked strong, winning 2 of their three matches thus far. The Italians would certainly be a Cinderella story in this World Cup, as they have already outperformed everyone’s expectations. The Italians are coming off of a 1-0 defeat to Brazil, but their comeback win over Australia shows that they can be a force to be reckoned with when they are playing their best.
The 16 teams remaining are all incredibly talented and many of them have what it takes to win the 2019 Women’s World Cup. From here on out, one bad play, one amazing 40-yard banger, or one missed penalty call could be the difference from moving on to the next round or waiting four long years until their next chance at the biggest accomplishment in soccer. This is what these teams, these countries, and these women live for and the world can’t wait to watch how it all plays out.