The Spherical of 16 is about to get underway on the Girls’s World Cup, and due to an unimpressive spherical of group play from the prohibitive favorites, the knockout spherical seems extra broad open than ever.
Regardless of getting into the Girls’s World Cup because the top-ranked staff on this planet, america wanted some help from the woodwork to advance out of their group, as a late try from Portugal careened off the submit. Had that shot gone in, america would have been despatched packing.
As an alternative, the USWNT strikes on because the runners-up of their group, rewarded with a brutal Spherical of 16 matchup with Sweden. As we word, the vibes are in shambles.
Whereas america has struggled, plenty of groups have stepped up in current days, which ought to make for an interesting Spherical of 16.
Listed below are the final 16 nations left standing on the Girls’s World Cup, ranked by their championship possibilities.
There’s a sturdy case to be made that Japan is the most effective staff within the event. They have been one of many first nations to clinch a spot within the knockout spherical, opening up group play with a pair of wins, however confronted a heavyweight bout of their group play finale with Spain to find out who would win Group C.
Japan did, with a shocking 4-0 efficiency. The Nadeshiko have been efficient, and medical, significantly on the counterattack. Whereas Spain dominated possession, Japan dominated the scoresheet, with Hinata Miyazawa scoring twice. When Spain did get on the entrance foot, Japan was so disciplined on protection that Spain couldn’t break by means of.
The Nadeshiko entered the Girls’s World Cup sitting eleventh in FIFA’s rankings, however primarily based on what we have now seen, they’re among the finest groups at this second, and that is perhaps sufficient.
Sweden has at all times been staff, however this World Cup they’ve actually put all of it collectively to grow to be one of the crucial fearsome groups within the event. After getting their footing towards South Africa with a 2-1 win, the staff has been a scoring explosion, demolishing Italy 5-0 and taking down Argentina 2-0.
The enter the knockout stage with the second-best aim differential within the event after Japan, and appear poised to run by means of the competitors due to a reasonably tender draw. If they will get previous USA there’s an excellent probability they’ll run to the finals.
There are two essential causes for this: Arsenal’s Amanda Ilestedt and Barcelona’s Fridolina Rolfö the 2 have mixed for 5 objectives up to now, and look completely unstoppable. With a deep bench and peerless ways, this staff shall be in it for the lengthy haul.
The Netherlands did one thing towards Vietnam that that they had by no means completed earlier than in a Girls’s World Cup Match.
Win by greater than two objectives.
Nonetheless, their 7-0 throttling of Vietnam not solely gave them the victory, it despatched them to the highest of the group, banishing america to runner-up standing. Esmee Brugts scored a pair of long-distance stunners, and realizing aim differential might play a essential position, the Netherlands received up early, and stayed up.
It was a powerful end to what has been a powerful run in group play. Misplaced within the roar over the efficiency from the USWNT is what the Netherlands did of their 1-1 draw, which was to take management early, after which frustrate the US assault within the second half.
Their reward for the hassle? A Spherical of 16 match towards South Africa, the second-lowest ranked staff remaining within the event.
The Lionesses are coming off their finest efficiency of the event, a 6-1 rout of China that noticed them emerge because the winners of Group D. Whereas their first two wins have been considerably underwhelming — a singular second of brilliance from Lauren James early towards Denmark proved decisive of their second match — their spectacular win over China might rightly be seen as a warning to the opposite 15 nations left standing. James scored twice, persevering with her unimaginable kind, however Alessia Russo, Lauren Hemp, Chloe Kelly, Rachel Daly all discovered the online, together with the brace from James.
Bear in mind, England is doing this whereas being ravaged by accidents, as Leah Williamson, Beth Mead, and Fran Kirby have been all injured forward of the event. The staff received extra unhealthy information when Keira Walsh suffered an harm within the win over Denmark, and whereas she prevented an ACL tear, her standing is unknown for the knockout spherical. But when they carry out this weekend as they did towards China, they are going to be a troublesome out.
The Cinderella performers of the event, hosts Australia has shortly gone from being a feel-good hometown story to a reliable menace this World Cup. All the pieces tactically is coming collectively for the Matildas, and this was on full show of their 4-0 beatdown of Canada, which cemented their spot within the knockout spherical.
The massive query transferring ahead is how this staff handles themselves tactically. The chemistry the staff has proper now could be on-par with among the finest on this planet, however now Sam Kerr is about to return from harm after the Aussie star was injured on the eve of the World Cup.
The 2-time Golden Boot winner and one of the crucial prolific scorers on the planet, Kerr is just too good to depart out of the Matildas’ lineup, and the way she’s built-in into the assault within the knockout stage will decide Australia’s possibilities from right here on.
It has been a tumultuous few months, however Les Bleus are by means of to the knockout spherical, have survived a managerial sacking, and a troublesome group draw. Corinne Diacre was dismissed in March after a number of gamers, together with captain Wendie Renard, walked away from the staff. Renard declared it was essential to protect her psychological well being, and teammates Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Kadidiatou Diani adopted go well with.
That opened the door for Herve Renard, who coached Saudi Arabia on the Males’s World Cup in Qatar, to take over. Regardless of having no expertise within the ladies’s recreation, Renard and Les Bleus are by means of because the stunning winners of Group F, with wins over Panama and Brazil.
Diani, one of many gamers to depart within the spring, netted a hat trick within the finale towards Panama. France was additionally in place to relaxation just a few gamers in that match, together with Renard and all-time main scorer Eugenie Le Sommer.
Spain might have superior because the runners-up out of Group C, however that is nonetheless among the finest groups on this planet. The truth is, had these rankings come out previous to the finale of group play, Spain may need topped the rankings, having outscored Costa Rica and Zambia by a mixed 8-0. That is additionally a staff that ran by means of their whole qualifying marketing campaign having scored 53 objectives, with out conceding as soon as.
Plus, La Roja will get a reasonably favorable draw within the knockout spherical, going up towards a Switzerland aspect that emerged because the winners of Group A with a win and a pair of attracts. Switzerland was ranked twentieth within the FIFA World Cup rankings coming into the event, which might work in Spain’s favor this weekend.
8. United States
Let’s simply say this: the vibes are in shambles proper now for the USWNT. After two consecutive attracts to the Netherlands and Portugal, the US Girls’s staff enters the knockout spherical with loads to show. Supervisor Vlatko Andonovski has to handle his substitutions higher, and get the staff to play a extra attacking, free flowing type of soccer.
Sure, groups are placing 5 on the again and daring them to get previous, however the US ought to have solutions for this. I’m not shopping for the concepts that that is the least proficient ladies’s soccer staff in a very long time, however to ensure that them to make a deep run, they’re going to have to seek out methods to persistently get into attacking place.
Fortunately, they don’t play anybody tremendous harmful within the Spherical of 16, proper?
Oh. They play Sweden. Let’s hope for the most effective.
Reaching this level is an exceptional achievement for Colombia, however loads remains to be unknown about how good this staff is transferring ahead. Clearly making it out of teams towards Germany and Korea was a large achievement, although it’s troublesome to discern how a lot of that was as a result of their very own expertise — or whether or not it was extra a case of collapse from them competitors.
This leaves them as one of many greatest query marks transferring ahead. We might equally count on to see Colombia dominate and show they’re a reliable menace, or flame out towards Jamaica on Tuesday.
Shedding to Morocco to shut out teams didn’t precisely encourage confidence, however something might occur.
The Tremendous Falcons are hovering into the spherical of 16 after comfortably ending second behind Australia of their group. The offense will get a lot of the consideration (three objectives in three matches up to now), and their skill to create offense within the remaining third has been fairly good up to now. Nonetheless, they do permit fairly a little bit of progressive passes into their remaining third, which may very well be an issue towards the extra spectacular offenses they’ll see within the knockout rounds, like England, who they match up towards on Aug. 7. Ahead Uchenna Kanu is one to observe for Nigeria, as she leads the Tremendous Falcons in progressive passes obtained and has one aim within the event.
All the pieces on paper tells you that Denmark must be rated increased. They’d a convincing efficiency in teams, dropping solely to powerhouse England — however this was a really weak group stage to get out of with China and Haiti.
Their greatest take a look at comes instantly towards Australia, who can have the house crowd behind them to such an extent that they might want to overcome the psychological edge that brings.
The massive factor for Denmark within the knockout stage is to seek out extra aim scoring. The staff solely managed a +2 aim differential of their three group video games, and with Sam Kerr returning to Australia’s lineup it’s going to be an enormous ask to make it by means of.
It has been a shaky few weeks for Norway, however due to a 6-0 thumping of the Philippines within the remaining match of group play, The Grasshoppers will transfer on.
Norway received off to a sluggish begin, dropping 1-0 to New Zealand and settling for a scoreless draw with Switzerland. Making issues worse, Caroline Graham Hansen blasted teaching selections following the Switzerland match, as she was benched following a disappointing efficiency towards New Zealand.
Graham Hansen subsequently apologized for her feedback, and was again within the lineup towards the Philippines, netting one of many staff’s six objectives. A hat trick from Sophie Román Haug was essential as properly, as Norway superior.
Nonetheless, they face a difficult highway forward, as they’ll face Japan, maybe the most well liked staff within the event, within the Spherical of 16.
Due to a 2-0 victory over the Philippines, and a pair of goalless attracts towards Norway and New Zealand, Switzerland not solely superior to the knockout spherical for simply the second time in Girls’s World Cup historical past.
A case for the Swiss begins with their protection. They’ve but to concede within the event, and of their finale towards New Zealand — needing only a level to advance because the winners of Group A — they have been greater than content material to park the bus and search for alternatives on the counterattack. Whereas that labored in group play, they’ll have to get extra from their forwards, specifically Ramona Bachmann, if they will preserve this run alive.
Maybe the most effective story of the Girls’s World Cup up to now? Jamaica. A staff that wanted to arrange a GoFundMe to assist fund their journey, as a result of failures of the Jamaica Soccer Federation to adequately help the staff.
Nonetheless, the Reggae Girlz are by means of to the knockout spherical for the primary time in historical past, their 0-0 draw towards Brazil being sufficient to ship Jamaica on, and the powerhouse Brazilians dwelling.
Jamaica has been stout defensively in the course of the event. They’ve but to concede and held each France and Brazil scoreless, and have been content material to pack issues in defensively and stay for the counterattack. That received them by means of to the knockout spherical, however will or not it’s sufficient to maintain their desires alive?
In a little bit of a stunner, Morocco superior to the Spherical of 16, tying Colombia in wins in group play. The Atlas Lionesses shocked powerhouse Germany, eliminating them from the World Cup regardless of dropping 6-0 to the German staff to open group play. The Moroccan nationwide staff is battle examined, profitable each of their video games 1-0 of their WWC debut. Midfielder Fatima Tagnaout leads the staff in Shot Creating Actions (take-ons, fouls drawn and passes resulting in shot makes an attempt), whereas forwards Ibtissam Jraïdi and Anissa Lahmari have scored the one two objectives of the tourney for Morocco.
16. South Africa
Rounding out the highest 16 is South Africa, who are available ending second behind Sweden of their group. After an injury-time winner to qualify for the knockout rounds, South Africa creates a historic occasion for the continent. That is the primary time three African groups have made the spherical of 16 within the Girls’s World Cup. Ahead Thembi Kgatlana is tied for the staff lead with two objectives and leads the staff in assists, whereas Hildah Magaia additionally has two objectives. Many of the offense runs by means of these two, main the staff in progressive passes obtained, so for them to advance previous the knockout rounds, they’ll must be of their finest kind.