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

Nigeria vs France

Nigeria vs France Preview: Could France Tank, And Should They?

The World Cup has once again thrown up a curious mix of incentives, and France find themselves in an odd spot. With six points from the first two games, getting out of the group is secure, and anything less than a 4-0 defeat here will at least see the side finish second.

Winning the group would see Les Bleues face a third place finisher in the round of 16, but a potentially brutal quarter final against the United States could await. Would it be better for France to lose this game and get an easier run of games? How you feel about this might say more about you than the World Cup.

Many will argue that momentum is what matters, and building confidence with another win will help propel this side to a World Cup win. On the other hand, the risk of going out to the US in the quarter finals would be an embarrassing end for a France side tipped by many to win this home tournament. It seems unlikely that the French would just completely throw this game. It would not be a surprise, though, to see a few players rested for the knockout stage. 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

Jamaica vs Italy

Jamaica vs Italy Preview: Azzurre to seal knock-out spot?

After winning their opening match at the World Cup, Italy will be looking to continue a surprisingly good start when they take on Jamaica at the Stade Auguste-Delaune in Reims. The Azzurre beat Australia 2-1 in their first fixture while their next opponent lost 3-0 to Brazil, but know all about dealing with adversity.

Jamaica had to navigate a notoriously tough path through the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers, eventually securing a place in France after beating Panama on penalties to reach the tournament for the first time in their history.

Back in 2010, their national football federation cut funding for the women’s team and completely disbanded it, only for Cedella Marley to pick up the baton four years later. She became the team’s ambassador and funded the team through her father’s charity, the Bob Marley Foundation. Read More

South Africa vs China

South Africa vs China Preview: A defensive masterclass required

Very little was expected of World Cup debutantes South Africa, in their opening match against Spain, but they used that to their advantage in Le Havre on Saturday as they made the Spaniards sweat profusely for well over an hour.

Having made history already by qualifying, they sweetened things by scoring their first goal of the showpiece and it was none other than the best player on the African continent, Thembi Kgatlana, who netted a fine chip over the goalkeeper in the 25th minute.

The 23-year old forward’s celebrations told a story of a team that was intent on defying the odds, or at least go down trying, as she cupped her ear as though she was asking the naysayers “you were saying?”. Read More

Australia vs. Brazil Preview: A Yellow Kind Of Play

Who would’ve said that Australia would lose their first match at the Women’s World Cup against Italy, when the Italians were making their debut? A very poor start for the Matildas. Not quite disastrous, and given that the better third-placed teams qualify for the next round, there is still a long way to go. But Australia now need to beat Brazil on Thursday to retain hope of topping Group C. And that won’t be easy.

Against Jamaica, Brazil were obviously the better team and won by an easy 3-0. Brazil might not be among the main challengers for this World Cup, but they showed enough here to suggest they will be dangerous. And all without Marta. At the very least, they’ll be delighted to have ended their nine-game losing run.

Comparing the two sides with Twelve’s tools, we can see Brazilian striker Cristiane leading with 3,192 points. Mostly because of her three goals scored, as she offered a poor production in attack actions and didn’t have a single important defensive action.


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Germany vs Spain

Germany vs Spain Preview: Unproductive vs Misfiring?

On the face of it, the World Cup is going swimmingly for those two European footballing powerhouses, Germany and Spain. With a win under their belt after their opening fixtures, both teams look to be on target for a comfortable progression into the knock-out round of the competition.

Although they face one another on Wednesday in what should be the deciding match for the group winner, a final group match against South Africa for Germany and China for Spain would suggest that both of these sides would make it through to the Round of 16.

But scorelines can be deceiving. On Saturday, Germany struggled to a 1-0 win over China in a match that China will have been disappointed to have come out of without at least a point. As Michael Caley’s xG map of the game shows, while Germany maintained pressure throughout the game, they did not translate their control into good chances. China, on the other hand, although they gave up possession and looked to counter-attack their opponents, ended up running out with the best chances in the game. Read More

France vs Norway

France vs Norway Preview: Les Bleues must tighten the screw

Someone asked if 2019 World Cup hosts France would get off to a good start on Matchday one against Korea Republic. They certainly did, with an emphatic 4-0 victory. But Les Bleues must now tighten the screw on their lead in Group A against an equally resolute Norway side who picked apart Nigeria in a 3-0 demolition.

$400 million was competed for by 32 teams at the men’s World Cup in Russia last year. France won the showpiece and took home $38 million. In contrast, only $30 million is up for grabs in the 2019 Women’s World Cup. Once again, France are poised to gobble up the $4 million that goes to the eventual winners.

Despite the glaring gender disparity in football, the improvement of the women’s game is getting more pronounced by the day. Total prize money for the Women’s World Cup has risen by 100% and is set to go higher. For the 2019 edition, one question pundits are asking is, will France hold two categories of senior world cup titles come July 7th? This much points to the terrifying quality of Corinne Diacre’s French side. Read More