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Women’s World Cup preview

Photo: Paul Rudderow

With the next World Cup still three years away and the US Men’s National team putting us to sleep in the Gold Cup, wouldn’t it be nice if there was something exciting going on this summer?

What’s that you say, Amy Rodriguez? Something exciting in Germany? But what?

The Women’s World Cup kicks off this Sunday and runs until the big final on July 17. A smaller tournament than the men’s, the Women’s World Cup features 16 teams divided into four groups. There are a number of perennial powerhouses looking to take the title back from host nation and two-time defending champs Germany. Let’s take a look at the group stage matchups.

GROUP A: Germany, Canada, Nigeria, France

The favorite to top this group is the host nation, but with two other top ten teams to play, they won’t have an easy run. Nigeria has been a mainstay at the WWC, appearing in every tournament. But after finishing last in their group in both 2003 and 2007, they want to make a much bigger impact in Germany. France hasn’t made many waves yet in women’s soccer, but they rolled through the qualifying rounds. They didn’t concede a goal in the first round, and then beat Italy by a 3-2 aggregate score in a playoff. Canada also had a strong qualifying tournament, as they won the CONCACAF tournament by beating out traditional favorites USA and Mexico.

Frankie’s picks: Germany and France. Germany won’t back down from the host nation pressure, and France continues it’s hot streak to make it’s first appearance in the quarterfinals.

GROUP B: Japan, New Zealand, Mexico, England

Group B appears to have the most parity, with each team thinking they’ve got a good chance at moving through to the quarterfinals. The favorite of the group is Japan, currently ranked 5th in the world. They’ve shown steady growth in recent years but have never made it through the quarterfinals of a World Cup. England wants to make their first big mark on the women’s game. They’ve won ten straight since January 2010. Mexico knocked the USA out of qualifying, and are hoping to build on that momentum during the group stage. New Zealand didn’t concede a goal in qualifying in the Oceania region. They have four professional players on a team that is bolstered by an array of youthful talent. Although they didn’t notch a point in their previous two trips to the WWC, things might change in 2011.

Frankie’s picks: Japan and England. Japan has the most experience in the group, and England will extend it’s 10-game win streak.

GROUP C: USA, Korea DPR, Colombia, Sweden

Group C contains three heavyweights in the women’s game and all three have high hopes to advance. The longshot in the group is Colombia, making their first WWC appearance and facing non-South American opponents for the first time ever. The favorite in the group is, of course, the USA. The two-time winners haven’t come out on top since the epic Brandi Chastain penalty kick sent the country into hysteria in 1999. Although ranked no. 1, they backed into the WWC after losing to Mexico in qualifying, rebounding to beat Italy with a pair of 1-0 wins in the playoff. The Korean team is known for it’s work ethic and organization, and nothing will be different in 2011. Korea won the U-20 World Cup in 2006, and this year’s senior team contains a number of players from that talented squad. They are hoping to build on their success at the youth level and make it through to the quarterfinals, a feat they have accomplished only once before. Sweden has appeared in every WWC, with their best showing a runner-up medal in 2003. They want 2011 to be more like that result than 2007, when they failed to make it out of the group stage.

Frankie’s Picks: USA and Sweden. USA wants to remind everyone why they are currently ranked no. 1, and Sweden wants to redeem themselves for their 2007 showing.

GROUP D: Brazil, Australia, Norway, Equatorial Guinea

Brazil and Norway are the two favorites to advance in Group D. Brazil features Marta, the 5-time FIFA player of the year and reigning WWC Golden Boot winner. Brazil was the runner-up in 2007 and won the silver at the two most recent Olympics. A streak of second place finishes is no streak to be proud of when you boast such talent. Norway has a very proud history in women’s soccer. They won the WWC in 2005, and they breezed through qualifying this time around, conceding only two goals in ten matches. Australia is trying to prove they belong on the world stage. They reached the quarterfinals in 2007 and won the Asian Cup in qualifying by downing Korea on PKs in the final. Advancing out of the group stage in Germany would show they are ready for prime time. Equatorial Guinea is making their first ever appearance in the WWC. Although they won the African Cup in 2008, and are the only team ever to beat Nigeria in that event, they have little chance making it out of this group..

Frankie’s Picks: Brazil and Norway. Brazil will ride behind Marta in the group stage, and Norway will advance behind their strong defense.

The 2011 Women’s World Cup kicks off on Sunday, 8:45 AM on ESPN2. Every match of the tournament will be aired live on ESPN/ESPN2, and will be streamed live on ESPN3.

3 Comments

  1. Adam Cann says:

    England is going out in the group stage!

  2. Pingback: The Philly Soccer Page » “Our job is to get the solution”

  3. Nice preview! Glad to see England women moving up on the world stage. Be nice to have 3 teams from the America’s make it through group play, so go Canada!!

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