World Cup Draw: France Comfortable In Group A

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusreddittumblrmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusreddittumblrmailOn the morning of December 8th, FIFA hosted an event in Paris to determine the groups for the first stage of the 2019 Women’s World Cup.  Some groups, such as Group D and Group E, are shaping up to be an exciting competition. Other groups, such as Group F, might prove to be a bit boring, but will provide a smooth road for the strongest teams.  The host nation, France, finds themselves in a group somewhere between these two extremes. Group A features France, Korea Republic, Norway, and Nigeria. While France should be able to come out on the top of this group without a problem, it’s dangerous to dismiss any of these teams as a lost cause. Korea Republic have qualified for just two Women’s World Cups (2003 and 2015). In 2015, they made it out of a group that included Brazil, Spain, and Costa Rica, but lost 3-0 in the Round of 16 to France. They almost missed out on this World Cup, but managed to snag the final Asian berth by finishing in fifth at the AFC Women’s Asian Cup. Still, they sit at a FIFA Ranking of 14th and could be dangerous if given the opportunity.  Norway’s fate at the 2019 Women’s World Cup will likely be determined by Ada Hegerberg. Hegerberg is one of the best strikers in the world, but she took a break from international soccer due to perceived inequality from the Norwegian Federation. Even with Hegerberg in the squad at the 2017 Euros, Norway failed to win a single game in their group and exited after the first round. But they defeated the tournament’s champions, the Netherlands, to punch their ticket to France in the European qualifiers. I would probably favor Norway to finish as the No. 2 team in this group, regardless of Hegerberg’s decision.  Nigeria has qualified for all seven Women’s World Cup tournaments and made it as far as the quarter-finals in 1999. On their road to France, they won the Women’s Africa Cup, but barely. They failed to score against Cameroon in the semi-finals or South Africa in the final, winning the tournament on penalties. Nigeria has the World Cup experience, but is likely to struggle against the other squads in this group. As I said previously, France should made it out of the group without much of a problem. But the group will provide enough competition to keep it interesting. France are expected to do well in the tournament, especially with the added benefit of being the host nation. But they have had a lot of retirements since 2015, and haven’t necessarily succeeded in bringing in solid replacements. They will not be a team without weaknesses, and each of their opponents are capable of capitalizing.
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