Sweden vs USA

Sweden vs USA Preview: Two Powerhouses Collide

Both the United States and Sweden are among the group of favourites that could realistically win the World Cup. And both are quite similar in their general style of football, which became obvious on the first two matchdays.

Since the discrepancies in terms of physicality are still somewhat significant at this year’s tournament, teams such as the United States and Sweden seem to have a huge advantage over “smaller” sides. Both are able to bully those who cannot keep up with them in terms height, speed and athleticism in general. Read More

Netherlands vs Canada

Netherlands vs Canada Preview: First Test For Outside Chancers

The Stade Auguste-Delaune in Reims will witness a meeting between two teams in very similar positions, both in terms of their standing in world football and their position in Group E.

Netherlands vs Canada could easily be a quarter or semi-final, and could well be the latter if both are still in the tournament come July, but the two teams will have to continue to improve as they progress for this to happen.

To watch Canada in the early rounds of this tournament is to watch a team doing a job, and little more. This brand of football can be dismissed as functional and not the type which will win a tournament, but in truth functional teams can, and often do, end up winning trophies. The Canadians are one of only three teams in the World Cup to have kept a clean sheet in all of their matches so far, after all.

A big test of Canada’s credentials will come against the Netherlands. It will be the first time they have faced a team on a similar level to themselves, and the same can be said of their opponents. Read More

Japan vs England

Japan vs England Preview: A World Top 10 Clash With History Too

When England faced Japan four years ago in their World Cup semifinal in Canada, the Lionesses lost the tie, heartbreakingly, through an own goal in the 92nd minute. The stakes aren’t quite as high this time around – it is ‘only’ the group stage, and both teams have already progressed into the next round – but it is not a complete dead rubber.

Victory against Japan in the SheBelieves Cup in March, despite it being a friendly tournament, and the manner in which they secured it will no doubt have given Phil Neville’s side confidence ahead of their meeting in Nice. Now, after narrowly defeating Scotland and overcoming Argentina’s attempts to frustrate them, England should be well-prepared for their final test after these two difficult fixtures.

Neville pointed out that “Japan struggled to create chances against Argentina but we didn’t”. The South Americans held the former world champions to a goalless draw, in which Asako Takakura’s side looked every inch the team in transition they were thought to be. A much more composed performance against Scotland served as a timely reminder of their class, encapsulated by Mana Iwabuchi’s fine finish, although they could do with some ruthlessness to match the levels of dominance. Read More

Scotland vs Argentina

Scotland vs Argentina Preview: No Wiggle Room For Kerr

Context, they say, is everything.

On paper, Scotland’s first foray into World Cup football looks encouraging: a couple of two-one defeats against top-ten-in-the-world opposition and the chance to qualify for the Round of 16 with a good result against Argentina on Wednesday.

But scratch the surface and there are worrying tendencies which put something of a dampener on proceedings in France. In both games, Scotland rolled over in the first half, giving up two goals, one of which was a (admittedly soft) penalty. In both games, there were tactical tweaks which saw Scotland come out stronger in the second half.

And in both games, there were late goals: too late to change the course of the result. Going into their final group game, Scotland will have to avoid following the same trajectory if they are to make it into the knock-out stage of this tournament. Read More

Italy vs Brazil

Italy vs Brazil Preview: A Classic To Conjure Memories Of 1982?

Italy may have already secured their place in the next round, but their final Group C encounter with Brazil still promises to be an intriguing clash as the latter also hope to advance. The Seleção will need to better Australia’s result against Jamaica to guarantee they remain in the competition, a tall order given the form of their next opponent.

Having reached the World Cup for the first time in 20 years, Italy have been one of the most surprising teams in France this summer, notching wins over Jamaica and Australia to sit comfortably atop the table with one round of matches remaining.

Milena Bertolini has been excellent thus far, the coach deploying her side in a basic 4-4-2 formation but constantly shifting her players around in order to exploit opposition weaknesses in each fixture. Read More

Jamaica vs Australia

Jamaica vs Australia Preview: The round of 16 beckons for the Matildas.

We’ve reached that point in the competition where the permutations get scrutinised and broken down. Where anything less than a victory could see a team either miss out on a 100% record in the group stages and finishing top of their group or get knocked out. Its matchday three and a crucial matchday for two of the four nations in Group C.

Brazil and Australia are on the cusp of qualifying for the round of 16 and both sides are looking to seal their passage to the knockout stages without the need for strenuous calculation.

The South American heavyweights take on group leaders and the already-qualified and unbeaten Italians in Tuesday’s final group clash – an incredibly tough assignment for a team that does not have its fate entirely in its own hands. Meanwhile, the Matildas have it a little easier, they’re up against newcomers Jamaica, who’ve already collected two hidings from the Brazilians and Azzure.

Therefore, the Australians are expected to supply the Reggae Girls with another mean beating, to finish on a positive goal difference, but their biggest concern will be what Italy do in the corresponding match against the Selecao. Read More

China vs Spain

China vs Spain Preview: Chance for both teams to reach the last 16

As we enter the final match day of the group stage, China vs Spain, a group B encounter which takes place at Le Havre, will decide who will join likely group winners Germany in the knockout stage of the Women’s World Cup.

Looking at the current standings, La Roja are second on virtue of a better goal difference and a draw on Monday will be enough for them to go through. From China’s viewpoint, by knowing that the four best third-placed teams will also reach the last-16, they may qualify even if they don’t beat Spain.

Currently, they are second in the best-ranked third-placed teams and a point is enough for them to contest a potential last-16 match against possible group D winners England or Group C winners Italy. With the qualifying scenarios put aside, let us take a look at how the two sets of players have performed so far. Read More

USA vs Chile Preview

USA vs Chile Preview: The Merciless March Onwards

With host nation France enjoying a strong start to the tournament through a 4-0 victory over South Korea, the United States were keen to make a statement in this opening round. They certainly did that. Such was the nature of USA’s 13-0 malevolent obliteration of Thailand, the statement made shifted from one about their own prowess to a wider one about the state of the mixed professionalisation of the women’s game.

Thailand’s team is supported by the private sector, specifically one single company, Muang Thai Insurance. This allows the squad to exist now in a professional capacity but this relationship does not go back long enough to have produced a generation of athletes on the same level that the US have.

The athletic and technical tiers that separated the two sides meant that the US would have sealed victory in this game with only the most basic of organisational preparation. This was not the case, however, and Jill Ellis started the match by showcasing her side’s default 4-3-3. Read More

Netherlands vs Cameroon

Netherlands vs Cameroon Preview: The Battle of the Lionesses

Following their unexpected victory at the 2017 European Championship on home soil, the Netherlands have often been regarded as favourites against any opposition. That didn’t change in the build-up to their Group E opener against New Zealand. And although it was billed as a heavyweight mismatch, what followed was anything but.

A defensive masterclass from the Football Ferns stifled the famously deadly Dutch attack, who struggled to pose any real danger and were unable to break down a stubborn backline – until the dramatic dying moments, when substitute Jill Roord finished from close range. The relief was evident, but Sarina Wiegman and her Orange Lionesses will not want to leave it so late against Cameroon.

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England vs Argentina

England vs Argentina Preview: Can The Lionesses Hit Their Stride?

It wasn’t perfect, but England’s performance against Scotland saw them over the line in the end. Phil Neville’s side have never been a afforded a better chance to win a World Cup, with a squad packed with experience and quality likely to threaten any opponent.

They showed as much in the first half in Nice, leading 2-0 by the break thanks to goals from Nikita Parris and Ellen White; but an opportunity missed by Scotland’s Erin Cuthbert just before half time and a disallowed strike by Beth Mead 30 seconds after galvanised Shelley Kerr and her team.

As the Lionesses tired and became sloppy, Scotland grew in confidence, halving the deficit late on and going close to grabbing a draw. England head into Friday’s clash with Argentina expected to win comfortably once again, but they certainly must improve in some areas if they are to dominate the game in the way that they should. Read More