The group phase is over in the 2019 Women’s World Cup, and the remaining 16 teams left are now in a single elimination knockout tournament to see who will become this years World Champions.
The tournament has been exciting, dramatic, controversial and atmospheric. Several teams look capable of winning the trophy – but maybe non more so than the United States of America, defending World Champions and, so far, boasting a 100% record, scoring 18 goals and conceding zero in their three games. Alex Morgan (above), leads the race for the Golden Boot with 5 goals, with team mate Carli Lloyd sat in fourth position with 3 goals. Morgan also leads the charts for goal assists, with 3, alongside team mate Megan Rapinoe.
Winning Group F at a canter, next up for the U.S.A in the last 16 are Spain, who qualified as runners up from Group B with 4 points. Spain lost their group game to Germany 0-1 but had plenty of chances, before a goalless draw with China secured their qualification. Spain are a spirited side, but you would not expect them to present many problems for America, who should ease into the Quarter Finals.
On the assumption this happens – the U.S.A are then scheduled to meet the winners of the France v Brazil last 16 game – and here is where America will be tested. France are expected to progress, with Brazil only qualifying by virtue of being one of the best third placed teams in the group phase; France topped their group and, like America, are also 100% so far – scoring 7 and conceding 1 along the way.
But France are the host nation and will be roared on by a partisan crowd at the Parc des Princes, Paris. France have never finished better than fourth in a (women’s) World Cup, and will feel this an outstanding opportunity to beat that mark. Central – quite literally – to the French team is midfield lynchpin Amandine Henry (above). Henry has 1 goal, 1 assist in the tournament so far, but has orchestrated the French team, sets the tempo and leads by example as Captain. The Americans will need to close her down, restrict her lung busting runs and, most crucially, her aerial power at set pieces. It should make for a fascinating game – should it happen.
The winner of that game will likely meet England or Australia, who are likely to meet up in their own Quarter Final. England have played 3 won 3 and qualified as comfortable group winners, but have not truly impressed so far. Scoring 5 and conceding 1 is a decent enough record, but they have been quite patchy with their performances and allowed teams to come back at them, rather than stepping on the gas and putting them away. Still, they are more than capable and certainly talented enough to make the semi finals – whether they have the class and strength to overcome the U.S.A – or France for that matter – though remains to be seen.
On the other side of the draw, we see the Dutch team as the ones most likely to make the final – Germany, as always, will present the most danger to them. Both teams have scored 6 goals so far across their three group games – with the Dutch conceding two whilst the Germans are yet to concede at all. But the Netherlands have come out of a stronger group – and though they also have, arguably, a stiffer task in their last 16 game, facing up to the 2015 World Cup runners up Japan, we believe they will progress and make it all the way to the final. Whether they can go one better than their male counterparts and lift the trophy also remains to be seen, but they are a dangerous side – and in Vivienne Miedema (above, left), who has notched 60 goals in 78 internationals for the Netherlands – despite being just 22 years old – they could have one of the players of the tournament. She has scored 2 of the 6 Dutch goals to date, and is certainly one to watch.
The USA are currently, and rightly, outright favourites to lift the trophy on July 7th at the Stade de Lyon – but their path to doing so will not be a straightforward one. Should they successfully defend their World Champion status, they will have know they have had to work for it, as their schedule could virtually not be harder.
2019 WOMENS WORLD CUP – ROUND OF LAST 16 FIXTURES
- 22/6/19 – GERMANY V NIGERIA (Grenoble)
- 22/6/19 – NORWAY V AUSTRALIA (Nice)
- 23/6/19 – ENGLAND V CAMEROON (Valenciennes)
- 23/6/19 – FRANCE V BRAZIL (Le Havre)
- 24/6/19 – SPAIN V U.S.A (Reims)
- 24/6/19 – SWEDEN V CANADA (Paris)
- 25/6/19 – ITALY V CHINA (Montpellier)
- 25/6/19 – HOLLAND V JAPAN (Rennes)