Womens World Cup Preview: Groups D, E, F

The time is here, which means no more waiting around. The Womens World Cup will kick off this weekend in Canada, and we have a lot to look forward to. We can now look at the rosters for each team, and the group they are in to see what their chances are for glory.

Group D

The Group of Death. No team outside of this group envies this draw. All four teams know the task in front of them, and each will be battle ready from the first kick. Let’s go through each individual team and their ranking.

Australia – 10th

Australia has a nice mix of veterans and youth on the roster. Co-captain Lisa De Vanna leads the roster with goals scored, and will likely be leaned on to provide a scoring punch. The other co-captain is defender Clare Polkinghorne, who has 79 caps to her name. All but one of their players play in an Australian domestic league, with the exception being Lydia Williams, who plays for the Washington Spirit.
Australia thrives due to a team attitude, always being a tough out in any competition. That will not change with this World Cup.

Nigeria – 33rd

Despite a lower FIFA ranking, Nigeria are the defending African champions. They have proven that they can take care of business on the big stage, qualifying for each World Cup Finals to date. The Nigerian squad is extremely youthful, with only 3 players on the roster over the age of 30. One of those players is Perpetua Nkwocha, who has an amazing 80 goals in 98 caps. The upcoming youth has a starlet in Desire Oparanozie, who at 21 years old has 22 goals from 32 caps. With 10 players having under 10 caps on this roster, this team is a total wildcard.
The attacking players are definitely the strength of the squad, so look for some high scoring affairs from their games.

Sweden – 5th

Sweden have done everything but win a World Cup, and they are thirsty to get their first title. Pia Sundhage is their coach, and the name should seem familiar. She led the USA from 2008-2012, including a runner up finish at the 2011 World Cup. Without her Sweden has done just fine, capturing 2 third place finishes, and a runner up in 2003. Add in a coach with elite experience, and Sweden is a dangerous team. They have both experience and youth, including 7 players with 95 or more caps. Captain Lotta Schelin is the most experience goalscorer, holding 80 international goals to her name.
This team has a little bit of everything, with the experience to carry them deep into the tournament.

USA – 2nd

It sounds weird to say that the USA is currently at their lowest ranking ever heading into the tournament, but it is true. Jill Ellis’ squad are hoping to reclaim the title that has eluded them the previous two tournaments. The usual suspects are all here for the US, but there is a question with Alex Morgan’s health. Abby Wambach is a legend on the front line for the US, while Hope Solo is back in goal after a short suspension.
Expectations are higher than ever for the USA, and these players should be up for the task.

Prediction:

I think so much of this group will be determined by the first matchups of Sweden vs Nigeria and US vs Australia. I have Sweden finishing tops in the group, with the US finishing 2nd. I also think that Australia gets enough points to make it through in 3rd place.

Group E

Group E is pretty much Brazil, and three other teams. The Brazilians are the heavy favorites with Costa Rica and Spain making their tournament debuts. South Korea is here for the second time as well.

Brazil – 7th

Brazil got perhaps one of the two best draws in the entire field, and also have one of the best players in the world with Marta. Marta, along with Cristiane, provide one of the most powerful one-two punches in the entire tournament. They went out in the quarters 4 years ago, so they are rearing to get back to the top 4.
A favorable draw should make for a nice group stage for the Brazilians

Costa Rica – 37th

The first time in the tournament finals for the Costa Ricans, so expectations are all over the place. Penn State forward Raquel Rodriguez will likely lead the attacking line, but there is no telling where this team will end up. This team is extremely young, with no players over the age of 30 on the roster. Their squad has 5 teenagers, including 15 year old Gloriana Villalobos.
Youth can shock the world on the big stage, so watch out for this unpredictable squad.

South Korea – 18th

This squad is making their 2nd Finals appearance, the first being back in 2003. Their star is Ji So-yun without a doubt. She plays for Chelsea ladies, and was voted squad MVP. With any Korean squad, you can expect a disciplined team who will pounce on mistakes lethally. They have their fair share of youth as well, with only 2 players who are 30.
Coming off a solid 0-0 draw against the US in a friendly, this squad looks rock solid.

Spain – 14th

For such a high ranking, Spain’s women don’t have the resume that others do. They have only qualified for two major tournaments in their history, Euro 1997 and 2013. All players on the team have under 50 caps, so this might be one of the most inexperienced squads in the field. Captain Veronica Boquete leads the front line with 30 goals. The squad has been on a hot streak, only losing one match since October 27th, 2013.
Their ranking might be a little high, but they are still a very dangerous side.

Prediction:

I have Brazil going through as tops in this group relatively easily. After that, I think South Korea sneaks into the 2nd spot, while Spain takes 3rd in the group. I will say that I have no confidence in that prediction outside of Brazil. This group should be a three horse race for 1.5 spots behind Brazil.

Group F

If I had to give a name to this group, it would be the “Wide Open Group.” All four squads have been to the finals before, but no one has done better than 4th place.

Colombia – 28th

Colombia has taken a solid position as the 2nd best CONMEBOL team, and now they are looking to stand on their own two legs. They really can make a big step towards that with a solid showing at this tournament. This may be one of the youngest squads, with 0 players over 29 years old. It really is anyone’s guess as to who they throw out as a starting 11. They got extremely lucky at the draw to be placed in this group, and will look to take advantage.
Good luck predicting this squad, as they have given us no indication on what their strategy will be.

England – 6th

This group might be the Three Lionesses best chance to bring home a solid showing for England at a World Cup. They won all 10 of their qualifying matches, so they know how to win. They have progressed to the quarterfinals in each tournament that they have been to, so they also can navigate a group stage. They also might be one of the oldest squads, with 8 players over 30 on the roster.
They come into this group looking good, so expect that to continue.

France – 3rd

France might be the biggest threat to claim their first title in the field. They handed the US a loss in the previous year, and came in 4th during the 2011 World Cup. Their captain Wendie Renard is only 24 years old, but don’t let that fool you, this squad is extremely mature. They do have 7 players with 12 or less caps, but they also have 9 players with over 80 caps.
They are very deserving of their ranking, and should play like it this tournament.

Mexico – 25th

Mexico might have the youngest captain at this World Cup, with Neyeli Rangel being 23 years old. They have quite a few youngsters, including 16 year old Emily Alvarado. The squad is a little shy on goal scorers with only 3 players having 10 or more goals, topping out at 15 from Charlyn Corral. These young players might just be the answer for Mexico.
Look out, because this team has the potential to capture lightning in a bottle.

Prediction:

France takes tops in the group, while England go through second. Colombia sneaks in the final 3rd place spot to go through.

 

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About the author: Dominic Habjan

 

I am a contributor to SoccerPro’s blogs, and truly enjoy writing about the World’s Game. I support Sporting KC, US National Team, and Slovenian National Team. I follow the Premier League but don’t necessarily have a favorite club. I am an avid sports fan, but prefer college to professional leagues in every sport with exception to soccer. I love the Mizzou Tigers, KC Royals, and KC Chiefs. Outside sports I enjoy movies, music, and musical theatre.

Website: https://www.soccerpro.com

 

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