WWC 2015: Best and Worst of Day 9 – Group B

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Our daily guide to the best and the worst of today’s Group B action in the 2015 Women’s World Cup!

The best and worst of Group B

What Happened

Germany and Norway qualify for the Round of 16 after strong performances once again with Norway unable to overturn Germany’s huge goal difference and Thailand playing the waiting game to see if they progress as a third placed team.

Germany started off on the front foot and early on it looked like another double-digit route was on the cards for Silvia Neid’s side as Melanie Leupolz headed the first goal of the match home. The War Elephants held their resolve though and went into the only one goal down.

That changed in the second half though as Germany came out firing: Lena Petermann was able to collect a brace in two minutes, heading in two goals to make it 3-0 and Sara Daebritz finished off the game with a tap in near the back post, giving Germany the top spot in the group with a 4-0 victory.

The second match of the group saw Côte d’Ivoire step it up against Norway who was looking to overcome the massive goal difference that Germany had accrued in their three games.

Although the Norwegians seemed to be the dominant side in the game, they never seemed like they were going to completely overrun the Ivory Coast like Germany had down almost a week ago, and the African side gave them a run for their money with Norway’s missed chances.

Ada Hegerberg was able to score a goal early on with an angled shot however her overall match was a mixed performance with an open net chance also missed.

Still, Norway’s lead doubled off Hegerberg’s boot in the second half before Solveig Gulbrandsen joined the scoresheet after a goalmouth tussle five minutes later that gave her another notch on her long list of World Cup goals.

Although the game was already out of their hands, Ivory Coast continued to fight and cheers went up from around the stadium as Ange Nguessan broke away with a stunning run and was able to claw one back for the Ivorians – a consolation prize in their final match.

With Norway once again taking all three points, the table was finalised with Germany finishing in a strong first place on goal difference, Norway following up the leaders and Thailand’s win over Côte d’Ivoire sending the first time African side to pack their bags with a last place result.

Stand Out Performances

Melanie Leupolz once again shone in Germany’s match, proving that she is an integral cog in the machine that is focused on taking out their third title at the World Cup finals. Leupolz was honoured with the Player of the Match award for her efforts which included the first goal for Germany in the match and also her first goal of the tournament so far.

Thailand’s Waraporn Boonsing also stood head and shoulders above the rest in the first game, resolutely refusing the German assault on her goals. Without her the score line could have climbed even higher as the two-time champs looked to match their record against the Ivory Coast.

Finally, although some might say that she had a bad day at the office with a few poor misses, Ada Hegerberg still put two goals away for Norway and made sure that the side collected another three points. If Norway are to go far in the competition, Hegerberg will be one of the main stars of their run and if she can take out the nervy chances in front of goals she could become lethal when given the chance.

Talking Points

With the group over, we can look at Thailand and Côte d’Ivoire’s performances in their first ever World Cup and although the Ivory Coast failed to collect any points, once they put the match against Germany behind them they can be happy with their first outing.

Close matches against Thailand and Norway proved that they deserve to be in the final rounds and in the coming years it gives hope to the African contingent that they can continue to challenge in the group stages.

Thailand also had a great opening three games in the tournament with their first ever World Cup win and brave outings against Germany and Norway. The focus for them now is if they can make it through to the Round of 16 as unlikely as that may be.

Norway and Germany matched par in qualification terms but their lack of dominance across their games could be a worry once they make it to the quarter and semi-finals that loom over them now. If they can improve over the coming week and gel as teams then they are in for a chance to go far but if they don’t click and bring their A-game to the next matches there’s a good chance they’ll fall short of the expectations that were set at the start of the tournament.

What it Means

Germany have claimed the top spot in the group now and have their eyes focused on a deep run to the final if they can carry over their strong performances from the group. Norway will be disappointed to finish in second place with their challenger in the Round of 16 more than likely England or France if the Group F table remains the same. Germany takes on a third-placed qualifier, meaning that they may be able to breathe a sigh of relief.

Thailand have a mathematical chance to qualify as a third-placed team but their goal difference may prove to be their undoing. Still though, a few results here and there and they could be playing in the Round of 16.

Needs Work

Apart from Norway’s few misses in their match, many of the teams put in solid performances all round with both Thailand and the Ivory Coast happy with their strong outings against veteran World Cup sides.

Only the finishing for Norway’s strikers may come up as a point of problems and with stronger teams on the horizon for the European side it could be a mistake that sees them eliminated from the competition if they can’t find a way to make sure the ball finds the back of the net in every chance that they get.

With sixteen attempts and only three goals to their name, Norway’s objectives now will be preparing their forward players to finish their chances when presented to them or they could find themselves in real trouble sooner rather than later.

What Next?

The Group B matches are over and now the teams must wait for the other results to come in. With Thailand’s fate still in the balance, and Germany and Norway looking to their Round of 16 rivals, every result will be crucial for these three teams as they look to further their progress in the World Cup finals.

Notably, Norway will be wary of the England and France tussle, while Germany will breathe a sigh of relief if they can secure a newcomer team for their opponent – if a strong team happens to slip into third place due to mistakes or upsets then Germany could be fighting every step of the way to get to the final of the competition, and their third World Cup title.

Goal of the Day

A defeat is a defeat, and the Ivory Coast didn’t make it out of the group in their first World Cup appearance, but their swan song in the form of Nguessan’s runaway goal still brought a cheer to the crowd and set off raucous celebrations for all that were supporting the African side. Nguessan is going to remember her World Cup goals for a long time and her final one was a great solo performance to beat Norway’s strong keeper.

Miss of the Day

Although Ada Hegerberg had a good game and was awarded Player of the Match in Germany’s 4-0 victory, the open goal miss will still haunt her as they progress to the next rounds of the competition. That kind of mistake has to be wiped from her mind once Die Nationalelf start taking on the top sides from other groups – a mistake like that may cost them the tournament in the close games to come.

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