The Women’s World Cup kicked off last night with France laying down a marker with a 4-0 victory against Korea Republic. The month long festival of football will showcase the best players in the world with the tournament taking place in France. Here I discuss each team in the group and how likely they are to progress beyond the group stage.
Group A – France, Korea Republic, Norway and Nigeria
France will start this group as favourites as they seek to become the first nation to hold the Men’s and Women’s World Cup trophies at the same time.
Les Bleus have never won this tournament and are seeking to become only the second side after Germany to win the Men’s and Women’s hosting of this competition.
The team are ranked fourth in FIFA’s rankings and with home support should progress to the knockout stages.
Their striker Eugénie Le Sommer will lead the line.
The Olympique Lyonnais player has won six Champions League titles and has scored 74 goals in 159 French appearances.
They are unbeaten since February and their home fans will be expecting them to go deep in the tournament.
Korea Republic, also known as the Taeguek Ladies will compete in their third World Cup finals having reached the knockout stages in 2015 where they were defeated by France.
Their other appearance in 2003 saw them suffer a 7-1 hammering to Norway as they failed to progress from the group.
Their captain Cho So-hyun is a midfielder who plays with West Ham United and is considered one of her country’s greatest ever players.
Ji So-yun plays for Chelsea and is another midfielder worth keeping an eye on.
They are hoping to get out of the group but they only just secured the final qualifying place in Asia while their poor form against European teams is cause for concern.
The World Cup winners in 1995, Norway, would have been widely regarded as dark horses for the tournament but the first ever winner of the Ballon d’Or feminin prize Ada Hegerberg’s decision to boycott the competition is a major blow.
She argues that female players are shown a lack of respect and will miss the tournament. Hegerberg has scored 38 goals in 66 appearances for her country and they may struggle for a cutting edge without her.
Norway have won six of their seven games this year and will need Chelsea player Maren Mjelde to create chances.
Caroline Hansen is a talented winger who has signed for Barcelona after impressing with Wolfsburg.
The opening game with Nigeria looks to be vital towards deciding who progresses from the group.
Africa Women’s Champions Nigeria will be hoping to bring their success in their nation to the global stage.
The Super Falcons are the only African team to have qualified for every World Cup.
They have only got out of the group stages once, in 1999 when they reached the quarter final stage before losing to Brazil.
Nigeria will be looking to Asisat Oshoala to provide the goals; she announced herself on the world stage when she finished top scorer at the U20 Women’s World Cup.
Oshoala scored in the Champions League final as Barcelona were defeated by the all conquering Olympique Lyonnais.
They know that a top three finish may be enough to progress and the format gives them every opportunity to rectify previous World Cup failings.