2015 Women’s World Cup: Group B Contenders

1 Jun

051315-Soccer-Elloh-Angerer-Mjelde-Lunteren-split-pi-ssm.vadapt.955.high.0This group may be the most unbalanced of all. Two former World Cup holders vs two teams new to the international stage. This group is either going to be as predictable as it looks, or all hell is going to break loose. This is the World Cup after all; anything can and will happen.

Group Location
The group is based out of the nation’s capital Ottawa for the first two group matches. Two teams then head to Winnipeg and the other two head to Moncton for their last group stage match. All matches will take place at TD Place Stadium, which has a seating capacity of 24,000.

A view of the stadium on the official opening of TD Place at Lansdowne Wednesday July 9. 2014. (Ashley Fraser / Ottawa Citizen)

A view of the stadium on the official opening of TD Place at Lansdowne Wednesday July 9. 2014. (Ashley Fraser / Ottawa Citizen)

Here are some facts about Ottawa:

  • The Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, turns into the world’s largest naturally frozen outdoor skating rink in the winter (7.8km or 4.8 miles).
  • Ottawa is one of the youngest cities in Canada, with nearly half the population under the age of 35
  • It was home to the first permanent BeaverTails store back in 1980. Beavertails are traditional whole-wheat pastries stretched by hand to resemble the tail of a beaver. The pastries are fried in oil and served hot with butter and your choice of toppings. (I can hear you drooling…)
  • It is home to 14 National Museums – Canadian Museum of Civilization, Canadian Children’s Museum, Canadian Postal Museum, The National Gallery of Canada, Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, Laurier House, Royal Canadian Mint, Library and Archives Canada, Currency Museum of the Bank of Canada, Canadian Museum of Nature, Canadian War Museum, Canadian Science and Technology Museum, and the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum.

1621629_full-lndTeam Germany
Let’s ponder the very real possibility Germany could be the holders of both the men’s and women’s World Cups in eight weeks time. It’s a bit mind-boggling. Before this can happen, Germany need to regroup without their midfield lynchpin Nadine Kessler. The reigning FIFA women’s player of the year and UEFA Best Women’s Player in Europe is still recovering from a knee injury suffered last October. Her absence doesn’t mean the team is suffering in talent or skill. Far from it. With perennial goalkeeper Nadine Angerer taking in her last international competition and midfielder Lena Goessling ready to take centre-stage from her Wolfsburg partner Kessler, this team has all the pieces to triumph once again. And with longtime coach Silvia Neid retiring next year, you just know she’s plotting those pieces carefully so as to leave Canada with the World Cup in hand.

FIFA ranking: 1st
Best ever finish: Winners, 2003 and 2007

Strengths: a powerhouse offense
Weaknesses: a shaky defense when facing teams with pace

International power player: Lena Goessling, midfield
Player(s) to watch: Anja Mittag, forward

Coach: Silvia Neid
Team nickname: Die Nationalelf, or The National Eleven
Follow on Twitter: @DFB_Team_EN

Team Ivory Coast
Ivory Coast make their first appearance at the WWC thanks to a win over South Africa in the African Championship last year. Their prospects in Canada aren’t that good, but the experience gained could certainly set them up well for further successes. The bonus for all of us is their fans are some of the loudest and friendliest ones around. Bring on the drums! Bring on the dancing!

FIFA ranking: 67th
Best ever finish: 2015 is their first appearance at the WWC

Strength(s): play as a unit; strong work ethic
Weakness(es): players lack top level football experience

International power player: Estelle Nahi, winger
Player(s) to watch: Tia N’Rehy, forward; Ida Guehai, midfielder

Coach: Clementine Toure
Team nickname: Les Elephantes

Team Norway
If there is a dark horse this year, Norway may be it. They were a force in the 1990s which, in theory, should preclude them from dark horse taggings. But, like China in Group A, they’ve struggled to maintain consistency in the time since. They’ve brought back former head coach Even Pellerud to regain their lost momentum and their prospects here look very good. During his first tenure with the team between 1989-1996, Pellerud led them to 2nd place in the 1991 WWC and 1st place in 1995 as well as a UEFA Euro championship in 1993 and an Olympic bronze medal in 1996. If they can recapture a tiny bit of that previous glory with Pellerud this go around, they could easily climb all the way through to the final.

FIFA ranking: 11th
Best ever finish: Winners, 1995

Strength(s): low expectations means less pressure on the team
Weakness(es): heavy reliance on minimally experienced youth players

International power player: Isabell Herlovsen, striker
Player(s) to watch: Caroline Hansen, midfielder; Ingrid Hjelmseth, goalkeeper

Coach: Even Pellerud
Team nickname: The Gresshoppene, or The Grasshoppers

Norway-football-team-of-fifa-womens-world-cup-2015Team Thailand
Thailand has attitude and they’re not afraid to show it. Go big or go home is how they’re playing it. Thailand has their sights firmly set on making it to the round of 16. For this to happen they’ll may have to beat both former World Cup holders in their group. Playing against Germany and Norway is not the same as playing against Myanmar and Vietnam. This team was fearless in their qualification games, but they also suffered significantly for it. Blow-outs against China (7-0) and South Korea (4-0) during the qualifiers suggest experienced teams will not be much troubled by Thailand. You do have to admire and respect the team for setting goals beyond just gaining experience though. They’ve come to win, not just to play.

FIFA ranking: 29th
Best ever finish: 2015 is their first appearance at the WWC

Strength(s): they’ve got speed and lots of it down the wings
Weakness(es): defensively poor

International power player: Kanjana Sung-Ngeon, midfielder
Player(s) to watch: Darut Changplook, defender

Coach: Nuengruethai Sathongwien
Team nickname: The War Elephants
Follow on Twitter: @thaifussballde, #ThaiWNT

June 7: Norway vs Thailand and Germany vs Ivory Coast
June 11: Germany vs Norway and Ivory Coast vs Thailand
June 15: Thailand vs Germany and Ivory Coast and Norway

– hopechaser

2 Responses to “2015 Women’s World Cup: Group B Contenders”

  1. mygypsyspirit June 1, 2015 at 8:26 pm #

    I’m fully expecting Germany to make it to the final in this, despite being without Nadine Kessler. I’d love to see Ivory Coast do something, though.

  2. hopechaser June 2, 2015 at 10:06 pm #

    Germany vs Norway should be a great match. I missed adding in the news Fatmire Alushi is also out of the German squad due to pregnancy. Another blow. She had a great season at PSG.

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