Thoughts on the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France

Women’s soccer is getting more competitive every year. I think that anyone in the top 10 of the world rankings can knock off anyone else on their day. Although, if they play teams outside the top 15 the results are usually still assured.

It is evident that the “soccer countries” (europe) are ramping up women’s soccer. The training that develops the top men’s players is rapidly allowing them to advance on the world stage and catch the leaders (ie USA) who have proven (through the lack of men’s success) that training and development aren’t up to par. Why does the USA still win in women’s soccer? 1. Huge head start that has a large number of girls participating in the sport. 2. Competitive culture (in comparison to other countries) for women’s sports. However, as shown in the men’s game college is not an ideal training environment and is allowing countries with development expertise to make great strides in catching up.

See Japan: and early adopter of women’s soccer with good training – they went from nothing to winning the World Cup in 8 years. An issue they have is small country size (therefore, lower participation numbers), but are World Cup champs and have been at the top of the world rankings for years. Other smaller countries (ie Scadenavian countries) have been at the top of the rankings because of early adoption of women’s sports. They have started falling by the wayside as their lack of size (and development methods) have put them in a solid second tier.

I have really liked France over the past 5 or 6 years. They have the best women’s professional league in the world. Lots of competition and year round training for their players. I am a big fan of Louisa Nécib Cadamuro who is now retired, unfortunately. They have the home country advantage and can be considered a favorite. They have fans as their opening game TV audience was bigger than one of the Men’s audiences in the 2018 Men’s World Cup and expect that viewership to go up as they continue. Seeding for the 2019 WWC is strange and they may have to play the USA in the quarter finals. Typically top teams won’t meet earlier than the semis.

The defending champs from 2015 in Canada is the USA team. I have posted articles in the past about them being more on serve and press end of the spectrum than the tiki taka end. That hasn’t really changed and their are some curious roster choices. Playing a forward in Crystal Dunn at defender? Meanwhile, the best American left back Jaelene Hinkle hasn’t been selected because of personal beliefs. Seems rather discriminatory for folks that say discrimination is bad. There isn’t a better pure tactical fit available than Hinkle. Also, Merritt Mathias never has gotten much of a look and one year was the only outside back to make an ALL NWSL team. Then there is the choice to take CB Julie Ertz out of the back line? Really, we have no other defensive mids available?
USWNT Since 2016 Olympics
Opponent Quality Record Av. GS Av. GA
FIFA Top 10 9-3-4 1.56 1.13
Outside Top 10 30-0-0 4.23 0.33
0.4 goals a game against top competition means this tournament can turn on a weakened defense as much as offense. Despite all of that the USA is a co-favorite with France.

Third of my final four selections – Germany seems like a top competitor with a 2016 Olympic gold medal and not losing a game in more than year. They arguable have the second best women’s league in the world, but seem a bit vulnerable. I was thinking this and then watched them have defensive issues against an overly physical China side, but came away with the win. Come on refs. Let’s keep this about soccer.

Rounding out my Top 4 choices – The Netherlands is an up-and-comer forcing their way into the conversation with a 2017 Euros championship (usually Germany). The tournament was hosted in the Netherlands conferring that advantage, however, the quality of their players and play is good.

Some other teams I like in no particular order.
Spain is a top contender – for 2023. They play a good style and have finally gotten rid of a disaster of a coach. They also have young players coming through their development system and major clubs are starting professional women’s teams. Just a bit young for 2019, but fun to watch the quality of soccer.

Brazil is in the same boat as Spain was, but has not turned the corner. Their federation ignores and does not support them. They are also relying on an aging Golden generation that came close in 2007 losing to Germany in the finals and falling further off the pace in successive tournaments. They have lost their last 9 games going into the 2019 World Cup. Japanese midfielder Homare Sawa played in six tournaments and veteran Brazilian Formiga becomes the first player to appear at seven tournaments breaking the tie. Marta is also here, but not playing the first game.

England has done well recently. They have started a professional women’s league. They also got rid a suspect coach. He was replaced by a member of the good-ol-boys network who had no coaching experience. However, he seems to meet the qualification of not-being-an-ass to his players and that has helped them flourish. A good run at the Euros in 2017 has given them confidence.

Australia is always mentioned and has good players, but their overall player pool is small and top heavy. Women’s soccer (and soccer in general to some extent) is looked down on in Australia looked on. Development opportunities are limited and many players go to US colleges to find places to continue to play. Through athleticism and effort they are in contention, but squad depth is an issue.

Japan may be my favorite team because of their playing style. A pleasure to watch ‘real’ soccer being played. They are near the top of the favorites, but the squad seems to be in a bit of a generational transition at an inopportune time.

Norway may show that 11 players giving it that little extra is enough. After all when the whole team is playing hard it can make them greater than the sum of their parts. This is necessary because the best player in the world, Ada Hegerberg, is not playing with the team in protest of the treatment of women’s soccer players. Seems to be a theme through many countries unfortunately.

Canada. No real thoughts. Lots of hype and hope for Sinclair breaking Waumbach’s international scoring record. Not sure the team is built to win the World Cup. When hosting in 2015 (big hosting advantage since European teams out of their time zones) barely made it our of group and won the first knock out round losing the final 8. Not a bad performance, but not bright. Relying on Sinclair who is four years older as your primary chance to win seems tough. But they have enough talent to catch fire for six games to make an impact.

This entry was posted on Saturday, June 8th, 2019 at 11:10 and is filed under Professional Soccer, Program Management, Soccer Business. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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