2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup: group stage preview
The group stage of the 2019 Women’s World Cup will feature twenty-four teams across six groups of four teams each. There will not be the higher level of drama associated with typical group stages like the Champions League in which only two of four teams in each group advance. This tournament will see four of the six third-placed teams also advance, meaning only a third of the twenty-four teams will exit the tournament before the knockout rounds. The group stage will take place from June 7 to June 20, with the round of 16 commencing on the 22nd.
The FIFA Women's World Cup is THIS MONTH. Oh yes.
Posted by FIFA Women's World Cup on Friday, May 31, 2019
France, alongside favourites for the tournament England, Germany and the defending World Cup champions, USA, will all be looking to win their groups and secure favourable matchups in the round of 16. All four will be expected to advance deep into the tournament. Former winners, Japan (2015) and Norway (1995) will have to contend with England and France, respectively, in their groups as they will look to try and secure at least second position to ensure advancement. The Spanish will be looking for a strong group stage after breezing through their UEFA qualification group with an 8-0-0 record and conceding only two goals. They find themselves in group B with Germany, China and South Africa.
Group C could be the most exciting one to watch as sixth-ranked Australia, tenth-ranked Brazil and fifteenth ranked Italy all could be in contention for the top spot. The Italians return to the World Cup for the first time since 1999 having come through qualification with a 7-0-1 mark. The winners of Groups A, B, C and D will play one of the third-placed teams in the round of sixteen. The runners up in groups B and D will face the winners of Group F and E, respectively.
France and the USA have what should be incredibly straightforward group stages and it would be a shock for either to not win their group. France faces South Korea, Norway and Nigeria, none of which are ranked any higher than twelfth in the world. The USA does go up against ninth-ranked Sweden but they also have been a draw with 34th ranked Thailand and 39th ranked Chile.
The Canadiens are a perennially strong side and enjoy a great rivalry with the USA as fellow North American giants of women’s football. If the two sides win their groups they couldn’t meet one another unless they both made the final, if both come second, they would meet in the round of 16. Canada has a favourable matchup against 46th ranked Cameroon and two tough draws against the Netherlands (8th) and New Zealand (19th) in group E.
The last FIFA rankings came out on March 29th and saw four teams swap places in the top ten. France swapped places with England, dropping from third to fourth, and Japan jumped ahead of the Netherlands from eighth to seventh. England slotted into the third position behind the USA and Germany off the back of strong performances to finish qualification and an undefeated showing at the 2019 SheBelieves Cup.
England rounded off qualification with four consecutive victories and then beat Brazil and Japan, while drawing with the US, to win the 2019 edition of the SheBelieves Cup. England has since stayed at home for four friendlies in the warm-up to the World Cup and may have some concerns after dropping matches to Canada(0-1) and New Zealand(0-1). However, their competitive matches record has been strong, their last loss in a competitive game was in March of 2018.
England and Japan meet to close out group D play and it could be the decisive game in determining the group winner. Both will be hopeful of heading into the matchup on six points after facing 20th ranked Scotland and 37th ranked Argentina. The runners up in group D will face the winners of Group E, while the winner will face a third-placed team. This could be one of the crucial group stage games.
Even with sixteen of twenty-four teams surviving the group stage and advancing to the knockout rounds, there is still plenty of potential for drama in the opening period of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Any surprise early stumbles from the favoured teams would also jump-start excitement and drama as nearly every group will have contentious battles to secure lucrative first placed positions.