Women’s World Cup: Group F Contenders

8 Jun

052215-soccer-Group-F-split-pi-mp.vadapt.955.high.0The group of geographical battles. England and France. Colombia and Mexico. The end result may come down to what happens between these two pairings. France has the inside edge, given their string of fourth place performances in the past few years. Their resulting third place world ranking isn’t going to mean much though if England, Colombia, and Mexico are able to successfully deploy their goal-scoring talent. If they can, this is about as evenly matched as you can get in a grouping. It’s a coin toss for me as to who will progress. I kinda think anything can happen here given the right circumstances.

Group Location
The group is based out of Moncton for the first two group matches. Two teams then head to Ottawa and the other two head to Montreal for their last group stage match. All matches will take place at Moncton Stadium, which has a seating capacity of around 21,000.

Here are some facts about Moncton:

  • Magnetic Hill on the northwestern outskirts of Moncton is a gravity hill optical illusion, where the local topography gives the impression that you are going uphill when in fact you are going downhill.
  • The Petitcodiac River hosts a tidal bore, which is a regularly occurring wave that travels up the river on the leading edge of the incoming tide.
  • Although first settled in 1733, Moncton was actually founded in 1766 by Pennsylvania Dutch immigrants.
  • The Bay of Fundy, located approximately one hour away, has the highest tidal range in the world.

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Team Colombia
Colombia didn’t have it easy at their first WWC in 2011 when they were drawn in the same pool as Sweden and the USA. Talk about trial-by-fire. The draw this go-around is a bit more favourable, but they’ll still have it tough. Forward Yoreli Rincon, the player of the tournament at last year’s Copa America Femenina, is definitely talented but she’s inconsistent and has yet to find her footing at the club level. A lot is resting on her to make good here. If she can, watch out. If she can’t, Colombia is still strong enough to make a legitimate run for the round of 16. They just need to be keep their reckless play under control.

FIFA ranking: 28th
Best ever finish: 4th, Group Stage; 2011

Strength(s): strong team core from goalkeeper to striker
Weakness(es): undisciplined when facing compact teams (as Abby Wambach can attest)

International power player: Yoreli Rincon, forward
Player(s) to watch: Nataly Arias, defender; Sandra Sepulveda, goalkeeper

Coach: Fabián Taborda
Team nickname: Las Cafeteras, The Coffee Growers; Las Chicas Superpoderosas, or The Powerpuff Girls
Follow on Twitter: @SelColombia_

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Team England
The Lionesses are the only team to make it to Canada with a 100% win record in qualifying. Wanna know how many goals they conceded? One. Now it’s true their opponents were not of Germany-level quality, but still. The confidence this team has coming into the tournament must be over-flowing. Then again, confidence has never been lacking with English teams; it’s the finishing part of the equation that they haven’t quite figured out. Forwards Karen Carney and Eniola Aluko are charged with the unenviable task of doing just that this summer. I wish them all the luck in the world.

Fun fact: As if Aluko doesn’t have enough to do, she is contributing a regular column to the BBC throughout the tournament. Footballer. Lawyer. Journalist. FIFA President. Just kidding! Or, am I?

FIFA ranking: 6th
Best ever finish: Quarter-finalists; 1995, 2007, and 2011

Strength(s): all of their core players are in their prime playing years right now
Weakness(es): team tends to choke under pressure

International power player: Eniola Aluko, forward
Player(s) to watch: Stephanie Houghton, defender

Coach: Mark Sampson
Team nickname: The Lionesses
Follow on Twitter: @England

BURTON-UPON-TRENT, ENGLAND - MAY 20:  Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, President of the Football Association, visits the England Women Senior Team at The National Football Centre at St. George's Park on May 20, 2015 in Burton-Upon-Trent, England. (Photo by Bradley Ormesher - Pool /Getty Images)

BURTON-UPON-TRENT, ENGLAND – MAY 20: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, President of the Football Association, visits the England Women Senior Team at The National Football Centre at St. George’s Park on May 20, 2015 in Burton-Upon-Trent, England. (Photo by Bradley Ormesher – Pool /Getty Images)

Team France
Les Bleues are a team drawn mainly from two clubs: Olympique Lyonnais and PSG. This approach puts them leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of their group in terms of player pedigree and team cohesion. They took on Sweden, Japan, Brazil, and the USA leading up to the tournament and either won or drew against all of them. This success bodes well because they are going to have to be fearless right out of the gate if they want to win here.

FIFA ranking: 3rd
Best ever finish: Fourth place, 2011

Strength(s): familiarity of the players with each other
Weakness(es): maintaining focus

International power player: Louisa Necib, midfielder (nicknamed “Ziza”, the female Zidane)
Player(s) to watch: Marie-Laure Delie, forward; Griedge Mbock Bathy, defender

Coach: Philippe Bergeroo
Team nickname: Les Bleues, or The Blues
Follow on Twitter: @equipedefrance

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Team Mexico
Although Mexico has played in every WWC since inception, they are still a team developing an identity. Investment in youth football is starting to pay dividends for the women’s team just as with the men’s team. The proof is in their WWC team composition. The majority of the players are in the early twenties, with the oldest player being 31 and the youngest 16. Youth could be Mexico’s making or their undoing this year. They are here to gather a best-ever international showing. Moving on from the group would be the sweetest icing on the cake.

Fun fact: Maribel Dominguez pretended to be a boy named ‘Mario’ when she was little so she could play football.

Not a fun fact: Dominguez had to undergo a full body inspection to prove she was female when she joined a women’s team back in 1997. Why? She had short hair and could play like a man.

FIFA ranking: 25th
Best ever finish: 3rd, Group Stage; 2011

Strength(s): zero pressure to win
Weakness(es): no star or game-changer on the squad

International power player: Maribel Dominguez, forward
Player(s) to watch: Alinea Garciamendez, defender

Coach: Leonardo Cuellar
Team nickname: El Tricolor, or The Tricolor
Follow on Twitter: @FEMEXFUTOFICIAL

Ciudad de México, 29 de mayo de 2015. Fotografía Oficial de la Selección Nacional Femenil, previo a su participación en el mundial Canadá 2015, realizada en el CAR (centro de alto rendimiento). Foto/Imago7/Hugo Avila

Ciudad de México, 29 de mayo de 2015. Fotografía Oficial de la Selección Nacional Femenil, previo a su participación en el mundial Canadá 2015, realizada en el CAR (centro de alto rendimiento).
Foto/Imago7/Hugo Avila

Matches
June 9: France vs England and Colombia vs Mexico
June 13: France vs Colombia and England vs Mexico
June 17: Mexico vs France and England vs Colombia

– hopechaser

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