The Women’s World Cup 2019 is three days old and seven group stage games are in the books. Host France and the United States led sportsbooks in odds to win the tournament outright before the first ball was kicked last Friday night.
Certainly, the two nations are the favourites for differing reasons, but the improvement of several nations in women’s football indicates another team could lift the World Cup trophy. With three days and seven matches down, a lot has been learned.
The US won’t kick off their Women’s World Cup 2019 campaign until Tuesday against Thailand. The Americans should breeze through Group F play, but will they be good enough to win their fourth Women’s World Cup trophy?
Clean sheets rule the group stage
The Women’s World Cup 2019 has so far shown a gulf in class between several teams. Four of the opening seven group stage matches featured clean sheets. France, Norway, Germany, and Brazil all easily kept clean sheets against their opening match opponents. All four nations were dominant in their victories.
Three games were close throughout the 90 minutes and those were the games that saw both teams score. England and Scotland played an exciting final 30 minutes as the two home nations finished 2-1 with the Lionesses pick up the win.
Italy and Brazil played a thrilling match with the Italians scoring the game winner in the fifth minute of second-half stoppage-time.
South Africa nearly pulled off the first upset of the group stage but were beaten in the end by Spain. The Spanish came from behind to win 3-1 thanks to the fantastic goal scoring exploits of Jenni Hermoso.
How many goals will the US put past Thailand?
The question isn’t whether the US will defeat Thailand, rather it is by how many goals? Jill Ellis’ US squad has appeared in the last two Women’s World Cup finals. The Americans finished runners up to Japan in 2011 while they won the 2015 tournament final against the Japanese.
Thailand are playing in their second consecutive Women’s World Cup. In 2015, they finished with a record of 1W-0D-2L while scoring three goals and conceding 10. Twice at the 2015 tournament Thailand conceded four goals to their opponents.
One leading sportsbook has the US listed as 1/33 favourites to beat the Thai team. Thailand have lost five straight international matches going into Tuesday’s match. Their most recent friendly against Belgium – who are not playing in the Women’s World Cup 2019 – saw them lose 6-1.
The likes of America’s Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan should have a field day with Thailand’s defence. That defence has conceded 18 goals in five matches.
The rise of women’s football
Women’s football continues to improve overall and its popularity is on the rise around the globe. Thanks to improved women’s leagues in England, the US, France, Spain, and Germany, female football has grown leaps and bounds from World Cup tournament to World Cup tournament.
Although this year’s event, which is only three days old, has seen some big scorelines, the overall quality continues to impress.
Last year, The Telegraph wrote about women’s football being the first big-time female team sport to break into the mainstream. It feels like the game is on the cusp of doing just that but it may take a team other than the US winning the World Cup for the game to increase in popularity.
The Americans excel at football, or soccer, and the rest of the world is catching up. Fortunately, more nations are improving and this year’s tournament could see a new country lift the World Cup trophy.
Only four nations – the US, Norway, Germany, and Japan – have ever won the Women’s World Cup. This year could be France’s, Spain’s, Canada’s, or Italy’s time to finally lift the trophy.
If the first three days are anything to go by, the rest of the Women’s World Cup 2019 will be fun to watch.