(Throughout the week, we will go through every group and let you know what to look for and what to expect in the Women’s World Cup)
Group A in the Women’s World Cup is one of the more consistently solid groups. The lowest ranked team in the FIFA Rankings is 17th and all four teams can realistically win the group. Many people point to Group D as the “Group of Death,” but Group A can be argued for that spot since all four teams can get into the Group Stage and only three can possibly get in.
Group A Teams:
Canada (FIFA Ranking, No. 8), Netherlands (No. 12), China (No. 16), New Zealand (No. 17)
Group A Schedule (All Games on FOX Networks):
Saturday, June 6 – Canada vs. China, 6:00 PM ET, Fox Sports 1
Saturday, June 6 – New Zealand vs. Netherlands – 9:00 PM ET, Fox Sports 2
Thursday, June 11 – China vs. Netherlands – 6:00 PM ET, Fox Sports 2
Thursday, June 11 – Canada vs. New Zealand – 9:00 PM ET, Fox Sports 1
Monday, June 15 – Netherlands vs. Canada – 7:30 PM ET, Fox Sports 1
Monday, June 15 – China vs. New Zealand – 7:30 PM ET, Fox Sports 2
Player to Watch in Group A: Christine Sinclair-Canada/Portland Thorns
With 153 goals, Christine Sinclair is by far, the greatest goalscorer in Canadian women’s soccer history. At 31 years old, the team goes through her. The next highest goalscorer on the CANWNT World Cup roster is Melissa Tancredi with 22 goals so Sinclair is definitely the key to the success of the team.
X-Factor in Group A: Can Canada finally fulfill their potential?
Canada has been a consistently solid team and a team that has shown at times that they can compete against the United States and compete for trophies. The problem is that they haven’t come close to fulfilling that potential. In the three big tournaments (World Cup, Olympics and Algarve Cup), they have only achieved a Bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics. And in the Women’s World Cup, Canada has been in the World Cup for every tournament except for 1991 and they only got out of the Group Stage in 2003. That’s a lot left to be desired for the 8th ranked team in the world.
By hosting the Women’s World Cup this year, this is Canada’s best chance for success. Canada as a soccer federation and country has invested time, resources and money into the World Cup and this team, it’s time to produce in front of the home crowd.
Odds of Winning U-20 World Cup (Westgate): Canada 12/1, Netherlands 60/1, China 60/1, New Zealand 150/1
Most Important Game: Netherlands vs. China
This has all the makings of a great game and a game to potentially determine who advances to the Knockout Stage. China is the mainstay of the two teams in the Women’s World Cup, qualifying for every World Cup except for 2011.
For the Netherlands, this will be their first Women’s World Cup. They are one of these rapidly improving teams rising through the ranks since the 2011 Women’s World Cup. Obviously, by never being in a World Cup, everyone on the Dutch team is inexperienced so that’ll be a hurdle to overcome.
Teams To Automatically Move On: Canada and China
The home field advantage points to Canada as a favorite to win the group and I will have to agree. This leaves China, Netherlands and New Zealand. My mind says it should be the Netherlands because they’ve played more games as a whole and I was impressed with how they moved the ball in the limited time I saw them play.
But for some reason, I’m going with China. I just can’t explain it but I’m going with China. I do however think that unless everyone plays into a bunch of draws, this will be a group in which you’ll see three teams advance so I’m going to with the Netherlands to take that spot. Having said that, just because we haven’t talked about New Zealand, doesn’t mean you should overlook them. I wouldn’t be surprised if they got into the Knockout Stage and kick one of those teams out. That is how close this group is. Should be a great time.