Soccer, Uncategorized, Women's World Cup

Women’s World Cup Group C

Group C – Australia, Italy, Brazil, Jamaica

Australia

The Matildas are in a tricky pool as they aim to make an impression in this year’s World Cup.

They have qualified for seven out of the eight World Cups and have reached the quarter finals in the last three tournaments.

Sam Kerr
Eyes on the prize. Sam Kerr will try help Australia progress beyond the group stages. Photo by: Nigel Owen/Action Plus via Getty Images.

Australia have not made an impact in their previous campaigns but they do possess one of the best players in the world in striker Sam Kerr.

She was shortlisted for the inaugural Ballon d’Or last year and will captain her country this summer.

She has failed to score in her last two World Cup campaigns but at aged 25, she will be expected to put that right.

Australia have experienced off field issues, firing their coach Alan Stajcic in January and they are now lead by Ante Milicic, a former assistant with the men’s national team.

This is a difficult group but Kerr should be able to steer her side in to the knockout stages.

Italy

The Italians have qualified for their first World Cup since 1999 and have enjoyed an upsurge in form, reaching the final of the Cyprus Cup this year before losing to North Korea on penalties.

They have won seven out of nine games in 2019 including a victory in a friendly against Ireland.

Italy Women's Soccer Team
This is the first Italy team to reach the World Cup since 1999. Photo by: Getty.

Their striker Crisitana Girelli scored seven goals in qualifying  while Barbara Bonansea is a skillful winger who helped Juventus win the league and cup double this year.

Sara Gama will captain the team from midfield while Manuela Giugliano is another to keep an eye on after she helped Italy finish in third place at the U17 World Cup in 2014.

The side ranked 15th in the world would have been hoping for an easier group as they seek to progress to the knockout stages for the second time in their history.

With some third placed teams progressing to the knockout stages, they will not have a better chance to change that statistic.

Brazil

The 2007 runners up have plenty of World Cup experience as they have competed in all seven previous campaigns.

They looked assured in wining the Copa America Femenina, winning all seven of their matches while scoring 31 goals.

Fourteen of their 19 outfield players scored in the tournament but they traditionally dominate the competition, winning seven of the eight tournaments held.

Cristiane
Cristiane (centre) celebrates after scoring a hat trcik in Brazil’s opening round win against Jamaica. Photo By: Naomi Baker – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images.

Their problem however is their ageing squad which may not be able to withstand the quick turnaround in games.

Marta is one of the most recognised names in the women’s game and the World Cup’s record goal scorer with 15, will look to add to her tally this summer.

Beatriz is another to watch as she finished top scorer for her country at last year’s Copa America Femenina.

Midfielder Formiga, who turned 41 in March, retired in 2016 but returned last year.

Brazil have the experience and the pedigree and will be hoping for a deep run but can they find their form?

Jamaica

The feel good story of this World Cup, the Jamaicans have qualified for their first ever World Cup after a cut in funding in 2010 caused the team to not be able to take part in the 2011 World Cup qualifiers.

The turnaround was financed in part by Bob Marley’s daughter Cedella who became an official ambassador for the team and has helped with their fundraising.

They are nicknamed the Reggae Girlz and their fans will be expected to bring plenty of colour to France.

Jamaica made history by becoming the first Caribbean nation to qualify for the World Cup after beating Panama in a penalty shootout last year.

Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw is a top class striker and has scored 31 goals in 22 appearances for her country.

She scored 19 goals in qualifying, the most scored by any player representing the 144 nations attempting to qualify for the World Cup.

They could reach for the knockout stages if they finish in the top three but they will need Shaw to produce big performances.

It would be a terrific story if they could but the odds are stacked against them.

Group Fixtures: 

9th June

Australia 1 Italy 2

Brazil 3 Jamaica 0

13th June

Australia v Brazil 17:00

14th June

Jamaica v Italy 17:00

18th June

Australia v Jamaica 20:00

Italy v Brazil 20:00

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Tennis

Players who can win the Australian Open

The first tennis Grand Slam of the year is fast approaching as the world’s top players battle for glory. Ivan Smyth picks the men in contention to lift the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup.

  1. Novak Djokovic

The Serbian enters this tournament as the favourite after an outstanding end to his 2018 season. The number one ranked player in the world returned from injury to win Wimbledon and the US Open. He suffered defeat in Doha last week, losing to an inspired Roberto Bautista Agut. The 5-set format suits his game and it is hard to see many players who could potentially upset the 14-time Grand Slam Champion. He is aiming to win a record seventh Australian Open title and he will have a major say in who reigns supreme in two weeks’ time.

Novak Djokovic
Can Novak Djokovic win a record seventh Australian Open title? Photo By: PA
  1. Roger Federer

The 20-time Grand Slam champion comes in to this tournament in impressive form after helping Switzerland secure the Hopman Cup. He was undefeated throughout the competition where he defeated Cameron Norrie, Stefanos Tsitsipas and rival Sascha Zverev. Federer is tied with Djokovic and Roy Emerson (who won six titles from 1961-1967) on six Australian Open victories. He struggled towards the end of last season but if he is physically fit then he can create further history.

Roger Federer
Can Roger Federer win three titles Australian Open titles in a row? Sourced Via: Sky Sports
  1. Marin Cilic

It seems like now or never for the 6ft 6in Croat to claim an elusive Astralian Open crown. He is a Grand Slam champion after winning the US Open in 2014. He reached the final last year where he lost out to Roger Federer in a classic final. The 30-year-old reached three Grand Slam quarter finals and helped Croatia to win the Davis Cup in 2018. The fast courts Down Under suit his hard-hitting game and nobody would begrudge him another Slam. He faces a tough first round against Bernard Tomic, but he can go deep once more.

 

  1. Rafael Nadal

The 32-year-old Spaniard will always enter a Grand Slam among the favourites. He has been disrupted by injuries since losing to Novak Djokovic in an epic semi-final at Wimbledon. He has yet to play a competitive game in 2019 which is far from ideal preparation. The 2009 Australian Open champion faces a tough draw in which he may have to face Alex Di Minaur, Kyle Edmund, Kevin Anderson, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic to win his 18th Grand Slam title. It would be one of his most impressive Grand Slam victories if he could achieve the feat. If anyone can do it then Nadal can.

Rafael Nadal
Will Nadal win the first Grand Slam of the year? Photo By: Getty.
  1. Sascha Zverev

The talented German has yet to progress beyond the quarter final of a Slam. The 21-year-old is one of the biggest prospects in the game, but he needs to serve big and improve his forehand. Since 2005 only two players outside of Djokovic, Federer or Rafael Nadal have won the Australian Open. Zverev may well be the best bet to break those player’s hold on the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup. He has not yet progressed beyond the third round of this competition, but he beat both Djokovic and Federer and the ATP Tour Finals last November.

  1. Karen Khachanov

The Russian is an outside bet to win his first ever Grad Slam title. His big serve and large forehand are well suited to the Australian courts. He defeated four top 10 players to win the Paris Masters last November: John Isner, Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic. The no.10 seed has not progressed beyond the second round in this tournament before, but he should rectify that stat this year. He can beat any player on his day.

 

The Australian Open runs from 14-27th January. It promises to be a fantastic tournament with plenty of top-quality action in the men’s and women’s draws.