The 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup will be the seventh time the tournament has been played and it will be held in Canada from the 6th June to the 5th July 2015. This will be the third time that the event has been held in North America but the first time it will be played in Canada with the previous two tournaments having been hosted by the USA.
The qualifying countries, of which there are 24, are placed in to six groups each consisting of 4 teams. Each team will play every other team in their group once with 3 points for a win, 1 for a draw and no points awarded for a defeat. Upon completion of the group games, the top two teams from each group will qualify for the knock-out stages of the tournament. Also, the best four teams of those ranked outside of the top two in each group will advance thus ensuring there will be 16 teams progressing to the knock-out stages.
From the round of 16 onwards, the tournament enters a pure knock-out format with extra-time and penalties being used to decide the winner if the teams cannot be separated after 90 minutes.
There are a total of six different venues being used within Canada for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup and they are Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal and Moncton. The final will be held at BC Place, Vancouver, which has a capacity of just over 54,000.
The defending champions are Japan who defeated the USA in a penalty shoot-out in the 2011 final, which was held in Germany. With the score tied at 2-2 after extra-time, the Japanese kept their composure to win the Women’s World Cup 3-1 on penalties. Not only did Japan become the first Asian team to win a Women’s World Cup, they also performed superbly on the world stage after the horror and devastation their homeland faced during the aftermath of the tsunami and earthquake that occurred just several months earlier.
【2011 Women’s World Cup Final: Japan vs. USA】
Fast-forwarding to this year’s competition, Japan finds themselves in Group C for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup along with Switzerland, Cameroon and Ecuador. With a good mix of experience and youth plus 2011 heroine Homare Sawa returning to the team, Japan has a good chance of defending their title. Maybe not as strong overall as Germany or the USA, Japan has a very technical set of players capable of beating anyone on their day as proved four years ago. Sitting in a group that contains three teams who have never played in a World Cup before, Japan should have little trouble advancing out of their group. A semi-final place can be expected for Japan but there are question marks as to whether they can go on to the final and defend their title. Japan is listed with odds at 8/1 with online bookmaker bet365 to win the World Cup.
Host nation Canada finds themselves in Group A along with Netherlands, China PR and New Zealand. Canada’s best performance to date at the World Cup came in 2003 finishing in fourth place and the big match in this group will be their meeting with the Netherlands. As the current Olympic bronze medalists, Canada will hope that experience, in addition to the passion of the home support, will be enough to propel them to the final. However, at 14/1 with sportsbook bet365 to win the tournament, a quarter-final place is more likely.
Group B is home to Germany, who is a two-time Women’s World Cup winner and the only nation to ever retain the trophy having won it in 2003 and 2007. The expectation for the German team is high and they are expected to bring the World Cup back to Germany this summer. After failing at home in the quarter-final stage in 2011, coach Silvia Neid will want to bow out in style here as this is her final year as coach. The Germans should face little difficulty in progressing from their group containing Norway, Ivory Coast and Thailand. The Norwegians will offer the biggest test to Germany but they should come through as group winners and therefore gain a favorable draw in the last 16. At 3/1 with bet365, Germany with their strong defence and attacking power are strongly fancied to lift their third World Cup. A recent 4-0 win over Brazil only served to enhance their credentials.
【Women’s Soccer Friendly: Germany Beats Brazil 4-0】
When the draw was conducted, no group in the tournament generated more interest than Group D. Featuring United States, Sweden, Australia and Nigeria, this is sure to be an exciting group. Australia has made it to the quarterfinals at the previous two World Cup tournaments and Nigeria comes in to the group as the African champions and runners-up in the under 20 event held in Canada last year. The strength of the group becomes apparent when you consider that neither of those two teams are favorites to make it through automatically to the last 16.
For the USA, it will surely be Abby Wambach’s last chance to win a World Cup with her country. The all time international record goal scorer will be hoping that Alex Morgan and Carli Lloyd are both fit to join her in attack. With sizeable support crossing the border into Canada to support the team, the United States should have a big following throughout the tournament. The team arrives in Canada as favorites at 3/1 with bet365 and hope to take the World Cup back across the border with them when all is said and done. As for Sweden who finished third in 2011, they are 16/1 favorites with bet365 to win the tournament and could provide the United States their biggest challenge up to the semi-finals.
From the remaining groups (E & F), Brazil and France are the stand-out teams. The Brazilians boast talented forward Marta in their ranks and she will be hoping to propel her team to the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup title. France should qualify easily from their group along with England and will be confident having finished fourth at the 2011 World Cup and 2012 Olympic Games. With one of the world’s top midfielder players, Louise Necib, pulling the strings in the center, France has the potential to go one better than 2011 and make it at least to the semi-finals of this year’s tournament.
Both Marta and Louise Necib are two of the top players who will be starring at the 2015 World Cup along with the likes of Nadine Keßler, Lotta Schelin, Aya Miyama and Dzsenifer Marozsán.
【2015 Top Ten Female Footballers in the World】
In terms of predicting a tournament winner, it’s difficult to look outside the top two countries in FIFA’s world rankings, USA and Germany. After the disappointment of what happened in their home country in 2011 and the fact that it’s Silvia Neid’s final tournament, Germany will be hugely motivated to do well. Japan proved what that kind of motivation can do to a team when winning the tournament four years ago. At 3/1 with bet365, Germany is the team to back for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Looking outside of the top ranked nations, Sweden with the experienced Pia Sundhage at the helm could be the darkhorse to wreak havoc in this year’s tournament. The Swedes are listed at odds of 16/1 with bet365. Look out for the Swedes clash with the United States during the group stages. The fate of this match could prove to be a significant moment in the tournament for both teams.
Move over hockey, it’s time for soccer to take center stage in the Great White North!