Women’s World Cup Reaches Knockout Rounds
by Matt Hundley | University of Missouri
On June 26, the top 16 women’s soccer teams in the world all came to Germany with one goal in mind, to win for their nation and be considered the best team in the world. After a week and a half of matches, group play is now complete and the final eight teams have entered the knockout stages, meaning it takes one loss to be eliminated and only three wins to be named Women’s World Cup champions. Let’s take a look back at group play and how each of the eight quarterfinalists made it to this stage.
Group A consisted of Nigeria, France, Canada, and host country Germany, who is the two time defending World Cup champion looking to win its third straight title at home. The German team started this quest strong, winning all three group games en route to a Group A win. France joins Germany as the other team in Group A to qualify for the knockout rounds, after wins against Nigeria and Canada gave it enough points to advance. Elimination was far from unprecedented yet still disappointing for Nigeria, as the African squad has qualified for all five Women’s World Cups but never made it past the first round.
Japan, New Zealand, Mexico, and England made up Group B, a section which was wide open as Japan, Mexico and England all had the raw talent to advance it to the knockout rounds. In the end England emerged as the Group B winner, securing the group with a win against Japan and a draw against Mexico. Japan joins England in the quarterfinals, mostly due to their 4-0 victory over Mexico in its second game of group play.
The number one ranked United States squad was a member of Group C, along with Colombia, Sweden, and North Korea. Everyone expected the United States to waltz their way to quarterfinals, especially after two easy wins against Colombia and North Korea, but this was far from the case, as Sweden shocked the Americans in the third group game to win Group C. The United States advanced to the knockout stage as the Group C runners up, but the World Cup is going less smoothly for number one ranked American women than expected.
Group D consisted of Equatorial Guinea, Norway, Australia and Brazil. The Brazilian women, one of the tournament favorites, lived up to expectations by sweeping the competition on their way to a Group D win. The second and final quarterfinal spot came down to Norway and Australia, who played in the third and final group game with the winner moving on and the loser going home. Norway took the lead, but Australia answered back with two goals of its own to win the game and move on to the knockout stages with the second spot from Group D.
Now that the four teams have emerged from their respective groups, anything can happen. The quarterfinal games will be played on Saturday and Sunday with the winners moving on to Wednesday’s semifinals and the losers facing an end to their World Cup dreams. As for the matchups, England takes on France in a battle of two of Europe’s best. Germany looks to continue its quest for its third straight World Cup on home soil in a match against Japan. And Sweden takes on Australia in a matchup between two of the most surprising contenders. Finally, World Cup favorites Brazil and the United States face off in a battle between two of the giants of women’s soccer. Tune in this weekend to watch these games in what has so far been an exciting Women’s World Cup.Matt Hundley is a NGJ Sports Correspondent and a student at the University of Missouri. He is interested in pursuing a sports journalism career.