Women’s World Cup 2019 preview – Part 1

The FIFA Women’s World Cup is running from June 7 to July 7 with the top female soccer players in action.

The tournament has gradually grown in popularity and has seen Irish broadcasters RTE and TG4 come together to show every game live.

This year’s competition promises to be another exciting tournament with the best players from around the world in action.

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Where will the tournament take place?

The eighth hosting of the Women’s World Cup will take place in France for the first time ever as games will be played in nine different venues including Paris Saint-Germain’s home ground Parc des Princes.

The semi finals and final will be held at the 59,000 seater Parc Olympique Lyonnais. The venue hosted last year’s Europa League final and is set to be used for the 2024 Summer Olympics.

How does the tournament work?

The competition consists of 24 teams. There will be six groups with four teams in each.

The group winners and runners up progress to the knockout stages alongside the four best third placed teams. Here we preview the teams in the first three groups.

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Group A – France, Korea Republic, Norway and Nigeria

France

France will start this group as favourites as they seek to become the first nation to hold the Men’s and Women’s World Cup trophies at the same time.

Les Bleus have never won this tournament and are seeking to become only the second side after Germany to win the Men’s and Women’s hosting of this competition.

The team are ranked fourth in FIFA’s rankings and with home support should progress to the knockout stages.

Their striker Eugénie Le Sommer will lead the line.

The Olympique Lyonnais player has won six Champions League titles and has scored 74 goals in 159 French appearances.

They are unbeaten since February and their home fans will be expecting them to go deep in the tournament.

Korea Republic

Korea Republic, also known as the Taeguek Ladies will compete in their third World Cup finals having reached the knockout stages in 2015 where they were defeated by France.

Their other appearance in 2003 saw them suffer a 7-1 hammering to Norway as they failed to progress from the group.

Their captain Cho So-hyun is a midfielder who plays with West Ham United and is considered one of her country’s greatest ever players.

Ji So-yun plays for Chelsea and is another midfielder worth keeping an eye on.

They are hoping to get out of the group but they only just secured the final qualifying place in Asia while their poor form against European teams is cause for concern.

Norway

The World Cup winners in 1995, Norway, would have been widely regarded as dark horses for the tournament but the first ever winner of the Ballon d’Or feminin prize Ada Hegerberg’s decision to boycott the competition is a major blow.

She argues that female players are shown a lack of respect and will miss the tournament. Hegerberg has scored 38 goals in 66 appearances for her country and they may struggle for a cutting edge without her.

Norway have won six of their seven games this year and will need Chelsea player Maren Mjelde to create chances.

Caroline Hansen is a talented winger who has signed for Barcelona after impressing with Wolfsburg.

The opening game with Nigeria looks to be vital towards deciding who progresses from the group.

Nigeria

Africa Women’s Champions Nigeria will be hoping to bring their success in their nation to the global stage.

The Super Falcons are the only African team to have qualified for every World Cup.

They have only got out of the group stages once, in 1999 when they reached the quarter final stage before losing to Brazil.

Nigeria will be looking to Asisat Oshoala to provide the goals; she announced herself on the world stage when she finished top scorer at the U20 Women’s World Cup.

Oshoala scored in the Champions League final as Barcelona were defeated by the all conquering Olympique Lyonnais.

They know that a top three finish may be enough to progress and the format gives them every opportunity to rectify previous World Cup failings.

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Group B – Germany, China, Spain, South Africa

Germany

Two time World Cup winners Germany would have been delighted with their World Cup draw.

They will be expected to top the group and will look to maintain their record of at least reaching the quarter final stage in each of the seven previous World Cups campaigns.

Martina Voss Teckelenburg’s side have not lost a game this year recording wins against France, Sweden and Japan.

The second ranked side in the world will look towards Olympique Lyonnais midfielder Dzsenifer Marozsan to anchor the midfield.

She is capable of creating and scoring goals, while Lea Schuller is another to keep an eye on as she has scored eight goals in 13 games for her country.

This could be her breakout tournament as Germany aim to join the USA as three time winners.

China

China are the most unpredictable side in the tournament as they reached the final in 1999, suffering a defeat on penalties to the US but they have not progressed beyond the quarter final stage since then.

They will be looking towards Wang Shuang to provide the goals needed to see them progress.

The reigning Asian Footballer of the Year plays her club football with PSG and is the only player in the Chinese squad to ply their trade abroad.

China have qualified for the World Cup seven times but their form in the Algarve Cup, a warm up tournament for teams, saw them finish last after losing all of their matches.

Spain

Women’s soccer in Spain has grown rapidly over the past few years as they won the Algarve Cup in 2017 and the Cyprus Cup a year later.

They qualified for their first World Cup tournament four years ago, failing to win a single game and finishing in 20th place.

La Roja have improved greatly since then and won all eight of their qualifying games for this tournament.

Jennifer Hermoso will be crucial to their hopes of progressing beyond the group stage for the first time.

She helped Atletico Madrid win the league title ahead of Champions League finalists Barcelona as the striker finished top scorer with 24 goals.

Patri Guijarro is another attacking player who could shine as she won the Golden Boot at the Women’s U20 World Cup last year.

Spain face China in the final group game and the result there should determine who finished behind the Germans.

South Africa

South Africa are the second lowest ranked side in the tournament and will find it difficult to gather points in the competition.

The wonderfully nicknamed Banyana Banyana are competing in their first World Cup after finishing as runners up in the African Cup of Nations, losing to Nigeria in a penalty shootout.

They beat the Super Falcons in the group stage but their results against European teams is worrying.

South Africa have conceded a combined total of 10 goals  in friendly games against Norway and the United States before this tournament.

Janine van Wyk is the heartbeat of their defence and holds the record as the country’s most capped player of any gender.

Striker Tembi Kgatlana won Player of the Tournament at last year’s African Cup of Nations but she may struggle for service as her side are favourites to finish bottom of the group.

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Group C – Australia, Italy, Brazil, Jamaica

Australia

The Matildas are in a tricky pool as they aim to make an impression in this year’s World Cup.

They have qualified for seven out of the eight World Cups and have reached the quarter finals in the last three tournaments.

Australia have not made an impact in their previous campaigns but they do possess one of the best players in the world in striker Sam Kerr.

She was shortlisted for the inaugural Ballon d’Or last year and will captain her country this summer.

She has failed to score in her last two World Cup campaigns but at aged 25, she will be expected to put that right.

After making her debut for her country aged 15, she will now carry the burden of expectation.

Australia have experienced off field issues, firing their coach Alan Stajcic in January and they are now lead by Ante Milicic, a former assistant with the men’s national team.

This is a difficult group but Kerr should be able to steer her side in to the knockout stages.

Italy

The Italians have qualified for their first World Cup since 1999 and have enjoyed an upsurge in form, reaching the final of the Cyprus Cup this year before losing to North Korea on penalties.

They have won seven out of nine games in 2019 including a victory in a friendly against Ireland.

Their striker Crisitana Girelli scored seven goals in qualifying  while Barbara Bonansea is a skillful winger who helped Juventus win the league and cup double this year.

Sara Gama will captain the team from midfield while Manuela Giugliano is another to keep an eye on after she helped Italy finish in third place at the U17 World Cup in 2014.

The side ranked 15th in the world would have been hoping for an easier group as they seek to progress to the knockout stages for the second time in their history.

With some third placed teams progressing to the knockout stages, they will not have a better chance to change that statistic.

Brazil

The 2007 runners up have plenty of World Cup experience as they have competed in all seven previous campaigns.

They looked assured in wining the Copa America Femenina, winning all seven of their matches while scoring 31 goals.

Fourteen of their 19 outfield players scored in the tournament but they traditionally dominate the competition, winning seven of the eight tournaments held.

Their problem however is their ageing squad and their awful run of form, which has seen them lose their last eight games.

Marta is one of the most recognised names in the women’s game and the World Cup’s record goal scorer with 15, will look to add to her tally this summer.

Beatriz is another to watch as she finished top scorer for her country at last year’s Copa America Femenina.

Midfielder Formiga, who turned 41 in March, retired in 2016 but returned last year.

Brazil have the experience and the pedigree and will be hoping for a deep run but can they find their form?

Jamaica

The feel good story of this World Cup, the Jamaicans have qualified for their first ever World Cup after a cut in funding in 2010 caused the team to not be able to take part in the 2011 World Cup qualifiers.

The turnaround was financed in part by Bob Marley’s daughter Cedella who became an official ambassador for the team and has helped with their fundraising.

They are nicknamed the Reggae Girlz and their fans will be expected to bring plenty of colour to France.

Jamaica made history by becoming the first Caribbean nation to qualify for the World Cup after beating Panama in a penalty shootout last year.

Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw is a top class striker and has scored 31 goals in 22 appearances for her country.

She scored 19 goals in qualifying, the most scored by any player representing the 144 nations attempting to qualify for the World Cup.

They could reach for the knockout stages if they finish in the top three but they will need Shaw to produce big performances.

It would be a terrific story if they could but the odds are stacked against them.

Author Details

Ivan Smyth

I am a soccer enthusiast and budding journalist. I am interested in the Premier League, SSE Airtricity League and international tournaments. I love voicing my opinions on all things soccer related. If you like my work, follow me on Twitter to discuss the beautiful game.

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