The draw for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup took place on Saturday. This article will analyze the resulting groups and make an educated attempt at predicting which teams will make the Round of 16.
I say attempt, because so many unforeseeable things can happen at a World Cup especially early on, as in the men’s global tournament in Russia this past summer. Even in the women’s game, the gap at the very top has closed dramatically in recent years.
Given that there are 24 teams in this completion and thus only six groups of four, the best four third-place group finishers will join each group’s top two teams in the knockout phase. This makes trying to predict who advances a bit more complicated.
Group A is by far the most balanced group, as well as one of the most difficult sections. It includes the French host nation, along with South Korea, Norway as well as Nigeria.
France belongs to the world elite in women’s soccer . They should win this group, but all three of the other teams can compete with them on their day. Norway has lost glamor since winning the 1995 edition of the tournament, but they are good enough to gain some of it back here.
South Korea is at as similar level as the Scandinavian side here, but Nigeria should not be written off either, despite underperforming in recent World Cups.
Group B has Germany, China, Spain and South Africa. In other words, it includes a two-time Women’s World Cup winner, a two-time runner-up, an emerging Spanish team and the debutant South Africans who should struggle.
Australia and Brazil are the favorites in Group C, while Italy reemerges on the global stage for the first time since 1999 after an impressive qualifying campaign, and the Jamaican “Reggae Girls” make their maiden appearance.
The dramatic World Cup semifinal of Canada 2015 between Japan and England (in which the Asian giants triumphed), will have a rematch in Group D. The “Lionesses” also get a British derby against Scotland, and underdogs of the women’s game Argentina round out that section.
Group E features Canada and EURO 2017 winners Netherlands. Although both New Zealand and Cameroon also have realistic chances for progress.
Finally in Group F, defending champions USA and Scandinavian giants Sweden will most likely cakewalk to the top two positions against Thailand and Chile.
It will be a very interesting tournament overall and I cannot wait for the games to begin on June 7.