Weekly Women in the World: WC2015 Fixtures

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The FIFA Women’s World Cup groups have been announced, and now we look to the teams involved in the massive 2015 clash that will see one team announced the World Champions.

The fixtures for the biggest women’s football competition in the world has been announced, and now we have six months to watch the 24 competitors prepare for the tournament.
There is no other competition in the world that has such an early fixture announcement date, and that’s why the World Cup can be so special – teams have months to prepare for the hardest games they have ever played.
The opening fixture of the games on June 6 sees hosts Canada against China, an old powerhouse of the women’s footballing world that were the runner-ups of the 1999 World Cup.
This World Cup is the first that will feature 24 teams in the global competition, and due to this a number of the 3rdplaced teams in the groups will also be advancing to the knockout elimination rounds. Four of the six 3rd placed teams will move through after play-off rounds between the six teams.

While some national teams will be complaining about the drawing of the group of death, including USA and Australia, Germany and Japan both may have easy runs through to the Round of 16, which may have an influence on the eventual grand final winner and champion of the World Cup.
Now we take a look at the FIFA Women’s World Cup groups, and take a look at all 24 of the competitors that will be competing in the world tournament.
Group A
Canada
The hosts of the World Cup have a lot to prove, and with their game the first fixture of the competition, they will be looking to leap right into a winning streak against China PR. They will be hoping that the support of the home fans and playing on familiar soil will give them a good start, just as they did in the 2012 Olympics. If they manage to win what is considered a relatively easy group, they could come face to face with Australia in the Round of 16, or even the U.S. or Sweden if both teams have troubles in their own groups.  They will have to be careful of the pressure of hosting the competition however, and may struggle with the weight of the expectation on their shoulders.
Off the back of their stellar 2012 Olympics performance however, they may reach the quarter-finals, something that the host country would be proud of in a field of amazing women’s national teams that all have their eyes on the trophy.
China PR
Once a power house of the female footballing world, China will want to take advantage of the lack of stand-out teams in Group A. The People’s Republic team will be looking to capitalize after their near miss to Japan in the Asian Women’s Championship and will be looking to set themselves back on track to former glories.
The lack of real challenge in their group may spell defeat for them however, as if they break into the Round of 16 it could see them struggling against teams of a higher caliber than they have previously played. If the 1999-runners up make it out of their group they will be on track – anything past that is just a bonus.
New Zealand
If New Zealand can take down their former coach John Herdman and his team – the hosts of the competition – then the Kiwis could find themselves walking the path laid out for the hosts. Once the Round of 16 begins, the winner of Group A will have a relatively easy path into the finals, but if one of the teams comes third in the group they will be facing off against the titans of the women’s footballing world – Germany. The New Zealand team could get lucky once or twice and find themselves in the semi-finals of the competition if they play their cards right and take the chances that are given to them.
Netherlands
Herdman proclaimed that the Netherlands are the dark horses of the tournament, and if the level of their national men’s team is anything to go off then the Dutch women may have it easy – with no world-beaters in Group A one team is going to find their path to the Round of 16 incredibly easy, and the Netherlands are tipped to be the ones to find it.

Group B
 Germany

There is no competition for the team that has already claimed the world champion title twice, and qualification was just as easy as Group B is shaping up to be. Many believe that the Norwegian team may give Germany a run for their money in the group, but the Ivory Coast and Thailand games may prove to be free points for the Germans and their campaign. More than likely Germany will top their group and come face to face with Australia in the Round of 16, and may have tipped Germany to have smooth sailing to the quarterfinals because of this. The quarterfinals may see England or France come face to face with the two-time world champions and this is where they came unstuck in their 2011 tournament. A win in this stage could see them come up against the world number one – the U.S. – in the semi-final game on the 30th June in Montreal.
Considering the power and skill of the German team coming to the competition, anything less than coming away with the third championship title will be considered a failure for the nation, and they will have their eyes on following in the men’s team’s footsteps and taking out the second World Cup title in as many years.
Côte d’Ivoire
After a close 1-0 victory over South Africa to make their first appearance in the FIFA World Cup. A big win over Thailand could see them through in 3rd place in the group, even if Norway and Germany prove too much for the newcomers.
Norway
Norway has a chance to take down Germany, and if they do it could be their chance to go the whole way in the competition. Even if they struggle with the two-time world champions and come second in the group, the lead up to the finals are still relatively easy for one of the best teams in the world, and Norway are less than likely to get beaten by the Ivory Coast and Thailand, both of whom are new teams in the competition. Former champions themselves, Norway were runners-up to Germany in the last European Championships and they are hoping to return to the field of contenders with the 2015 World Cup.
Thailand 

Thailand have been said to be the weakest of the 24 teams traveling to Canada next year, but they will still be extremely happy to be attending the competition at all. Their game against the Ivory Coast is their best chance to take a result and that could be the game to watch for Thai fans.
Group C
Japan
Many are saying that the draw has already clinched Japan’s victory in the World Cup, with only very few road blocks on the way to the beautiful Japanese team, known as Nadeshiko Japan. Switzerland may provide a bump in the road for the team, but Cameroon and Ecuador are probably already being considered free points in the group for the Japanese titans. Japan brings back memories of the upset of Germany four years ago, and with Australia, England or France being the team that they face in the Round of 16, it may be not quite so hard to find their way to the final game of the series. Except for the small possibility of a massive collapse of the team, Japan is the favourites of the tournament, winning the previous World Cup and taking silver at the Olympics with some beautiful football. Anything less than a definitive victory for Japan would be a colossal failure for the Japanese Beauties, and it will be interesting to see them fighting to the grand final.
Switzerland
With three inaugural appearances in the Group C selection, the Swiss are the favourites to make it through alongside Japan, and this could give them a chance to make a splash on the national stage and begin building towards being world beaters in their own rights. They will face tough opposition from Cameroon and Ecuador however, so time will tell if their hype can be lived up to.
Cameroon
After running up in the Africa Women’s Championship recently, Cameroon will be looking to emulate their male counter-parts in the opening match of the opening match of the 1990 World Cup that gave Cameroon a win over Argentina in one of the greatest upsets in the history of the World Cup.
Ecuador
Ecuador were the last side to earn a place after they edged out Trinidad & Tobago, and many in America support Ecuador second after their connections with the US. Their reaching the World Cup group stage is amazing in its own right, and this is probably as far as they’ll come in the competition – regardless, that is a massive win for the nation.
Group D
United States
The number one ranked team in the world has been placed into quite possibly the toughest group that the Women’s World Cup has ever seen, with Group D undeniably the group of death for the competition. The title, however, has a lot to do with the fact that they are helming the group itself, and many of the other teams will struggle to even net a goal against the footballing powerhouse. The winner of the group will come down to the game between Sweden and America as they play off for those vital three points, with Australia and Nigeria possibly struggling against the USA team.
A slip up against Sweden or Australia could see the USA campaign falter however, as a second place in the group could see them playing Brazil in the Round of 16, and if they beat that high class team Japan will be waiting in the wings to deliver a knock-out punch in the quarter finals. Every US fan will be hoping for a first place finish, or their aspirations for World Champions could be cut short by cruel fixtures. The United States has to win the World Cup to consider the tournament a success, and any other result will be a dramatic defeat for the first placed team However, the team going into the competition will be largely new with only Christie Rampone having won a World Cup before and Abby Wambach has not been shy about this being her last chance to win the most prestigious trophy in the sport. This may well be USA’s last chance at a grand final finish, as many of the star players will be retiring between now and the 2019 World Cup – this is the do or die for the 1st ranked team.
Australia
The group of death was not kind to Australia, who were one of the underdog competitors that could have had a chance in the later stages of the game. Now they must defeat both USA and Sweden, as well as African super stars Nigeria, to even have a chance to make it through in 2nd or 3rd place in the group. A third place finish could see them play against the Group A winner however, and that is the softest of the group winners coming out, which could give Australia a chance to progress to the quarter-finals with ease. Fans of American and Australian football have already seen super stars being born for the Matildas, but is it going to be good enough to take home a place in Canada? The team lacks a spark with an immense playmaker and that could be their downfall against top teams Sweden and the US.
Sweden
Sweden is good enough to beat anyone in the tournament, and that’s just a simple fact. If they can continue their recent success against number one team USA then they have a good chance to taking the winning spot in Group D, leaving Australia and Nigeria behind as well to take a soft route to the finals. If they won’t win the group, the consolation prize to the runner-up is likely to be a meeting with Brazil making it possible the 3rd place finisher in Group D will get it easier than the 2nd place finisher. Sweden is good enough to beat anyone on this world stage – are they good enough to do it across four knock out rounds and claim the title of World Champions?
Nigeria
If Nigeria can find a way to upset Australia and make sure they don’t get too badly beaten by the US and Sweden, they could slip out of the group stage and into the Round of 16. No team has had work luck in this World Cup, as the underdog in the group that has been dubbed the “Group of Death” of the competition. The last time Nigeria advanced from their group was 1999, and will be hoping that fifteen years later they can find a chance and make it through.
Group E
Brazil
The Samba Queens are favourites in their group, and could see themselves on the path to a difficult road into the finals. Brazil could face off against Sweden early on in the knock-out rounds, or if Sweden win the group of death then Brazil will be racing number one ranked USA in the Round of 16. The quarterfinal opponent will then be Japan, which means that Brazil would have played three of the best teams in the entire tournament before they even make it to the semi-finals. No one ever knows quite what to expect from Brazil at the start of these tournaments.  Four years ago they had the U.S. beat in the quarterfinals and hadn’t the slightest idea how to close out the match.  They’ve been close enough often enough that they should expect themselves to win a big one before it’s too late to do so in the Marta era.
Korea Republic
The Korean Republic could use their confidence in the field to take the competition to Brazil and Spain, and could likely finish as runners-up to face France or England in the Round of 16. If the South Korean team makes it out of the group stage over the other competitors than there is little chance that they can make it further than the Round of 16, and if they do it will be an incredible upset that would be a sight to see.
Spain
Spain could take 2nd over the South Korean and Costa Rican talent that they will come face to face with, and in their first World Cup tournament they could make a deep run, with only Brazil looking to trip them up in the group stage. All Spanish fans will be hopeful that their women’s team do better than the men’s team did in the 2014 World Cup that saw them burn out in the group stages alongside Australia.
Costa Rica
It’s amazing to see Costa Rica here in the World Cup now, but the team simply lacks that flair and fire-power that will make them a lethal force in the competition. The team that made it into the knock-out rounds for the men’s team last year may struggle to collect points in the women’s against the strong field.
Group F
France
France has a great chance of winning Group F if they take down England in the opening fixture of the group, but do they want to anymore? Looking at the track that they’ll have to take with a win, there’s a chance they’ll face off against South Korea/Spain/Costa Rica-Germany-United States on the way to the final, while the runners-up will face a series of teams like -Canada/Australia-Brazil.  The other groups could be upset sometime during the group stages but it seems like France might more than enjoy the second place as opposed to the first if that’s the challenge that they have to face.  Colombia and Mexico will be easy to handle for the top team, but they will be under considerable pressure to do so if they drop points to England. France can be seen as the dark horse of the competition, and may force their way into the brawl between USA, Germany and Japan for a place in the finals of the World Cup.
England
Like France, England may be more confidence going through in 2nd place to get an easier route into the deeper sections of the competition. Regardless of preference however, England need the confidence of a series of wins if they are going to have a deep run, and losing to France early in the competition could see their players fall apart and emulate the poor run that Hodgson’s men’s team had in the male World Cup. England has to prove that they are still a top team in the world, and a run into the finals may be enough to prove that – they just have to get there first.
Colombia
Ranked second in South America, Colombia will be looking to continue their rise to glory by beating Mexico and hopefully sneaking in wins against England and France to find their way into the Round of 16. In the last four years Colombia finished second to Brazil in the South American Women’s Championship and had a good showing in the last World Cup as well as the Olympics recently. Once they are out of the group stage they could be fighting their way into the finals knock-outs if they have a good run.
Mexico
After several disasters against the United States in 2014, Mexico now have to recover and face off against England and France for the second place in the group, but their disappointing streak in 2014 says that they might not be able to go the distance with their competition. It’s relatively possible that the Mexico team will come into the competition looking to simply build on confidence and skill and may look to the 2019 World Cup instead as their year to push out of the group stage.

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