The first two games of the group stages are in the books, and the matchups for the Round of 16 will be decided over the next three days. Here’s a look at what we’ve seen so far in the Women’s World Cup:
Personally, I love chaos. And the first week of the Women’s World Cup has brought about quite a bit of it. Group F is quite a mess. World No. 3 France — FRANCE! — lost to Colombia 2-0 on Saturday in Moncton, a seemingly unimaginable result and second only to Japan’s win over Germany in the quarterfinals in 2011 for the biggest upset in Women’s World Cup history. France was one of the favorites heading into the tournament, but as Jobu pointed out earlier, maybe France shouldn’t have been getting all the hype it had been getting.
As it stands now, France is in third place in the group, and would have to play the United States in the Round of 16.
But… France can still finish at least second in the group. The loss to Colombia was a tough game, but they should’ve have been awarded a PK and been playing 11 v. 10 for the final 24 minutes of the match after a blatant handball in the box. They get to play Mexico next, and if they finish even half as many chances as they had versus Colombia, they could win the game by 10.
Colombia and England will play on Wednesday with Colombia sitting in first place. Either team could leave this game as the group winner — which puts that team on course for the dreaded QF match vs. Germany in Montreal.
Too Close To Call
After wins in their opening matches, Germany, Canada and the United States hoped they would be able to get wins in their second game and clinch the group — but, after disappointing draws, both must wait to learn their fates.
So Group B probably isn’t that close…. Germany, thanks to it’s 10-0 rout of Ivory Coast, should have no trouble getting past Thailand and holding off Norway, who is at (only) +4 in the goal differential.
Norway’s free kick goal to tie Germany was gorgeous, by the way. If you’re like me, you’ve already watched it 100 times, but why not make it 101?
Over in Group D (for Death), the United States’ situation is strong, but there are a few different ways it could play out. They don’t need a win to top the group, but beating Nigeria leaves nothing in doubt. Nigeria has shown itself to be a strong competitor after its 3-3 draw with Sweden, so they will be looking to complicate things. If Australia beats Sweden, which is entirely possible, and Nigeria edges out another draw with a top favorite, then the United States finishes second and would once again have to face Brazil in the knockout rounds of a major tournament.
Canada is in the most precarious position of all three. They have not impressed, and have struggled to score goals. They definitely need to beat the Netherlands to win the group and avoid finishing second, where they would face likely Switzerland or Cameroon, rather than one of the third place finishers.
Japan has already advanced to the Round of 16, and is the likely group winner here as well. They just need to go through the formality of beating Ecuador.
Assuming Japan tops the group, second place will be on the line between Switzerland and Cameroon, who both looked good against Ecuador, but came up just short vs. Japan.
Meanwhile in Group E….
As Equalizer Soccer points out, Brazil hasn’t lost a group stage game since 1995! The last group stage goal they conceded was in 2003! Thanks to FIFA officially counting penalty kick losses as draws, they actually haven’t even technically lost a World Cup match since the 2007 Final vs. Germany.
Brazil’s been a bit overlooked coming into this tournament, but they are the only team to have already clinched first place in their group and can use the next match to rest players, like the dangerous Fabiana, who are a bit banged up. Everyone else is still sorting things out, and Brazil gets to play their final group game in Moncton, where they will also play their Round of 16 match.
I had the absolute pleasure of being in attendance in Montreal for the thrilling 2-2 draw between Korea Republic and Costa Rica on Saturday night. Trailing 2-1 late, Costa Rica equalized in the 89th minute thanks to a Karla Villalobos goal that led to a massive celebration.
The second place finisher in Group E is still very much up in the air. Costa Rica has the advantage since they get to play Brazil, who has nothing to play for. Spain and Korea Republic both have only one point, so they will need a win and a Costa Rica loss or draw to finish second.