Few Surprises in Women’s World Cup Group Stage

With the group stage over, the initial twenty-four teams in the World Cup has been whittled down to sixteen. There were no surprise early exits this time around, but there were a few upsets in individual matches during the group stage. The biggest upset of the group stage was 28th ranked Colombia’s 2-0 defeat of 3rd ranked France. Colombia, in their second Women’s World Cup appearance, made an early strike with a goal from 23 year old Lady Andrade in the 19th minute of the match. France pressed forward for much of the second half, but keeper Sandra Sepulveda put in a superb performance in goal and prevented the French from getting on the scoresheet. Catalina Usme cemented Colombia’s historic win in stoppage time with a second goal, putting Colombia briefly on top of their group that included France, England, and Mexico. .With the win over France and an earlier draw against Mexico, Colombia had assured a place in the round of 16 early even though they ended up coming in third in the group, due to the top 4 third place teams going through.

Another team who scraped through the group stage as one of the better third place teams was Sweden. Coming off of a third place finish in the 2011 World Cup where they won all three games in a group that included the United States, the Swedish ran into bad luck this time around when they were drawn into a group of death. Fifth ranked Sweden was one of three top ten ranked teams in their group; the others were 2nd ranked United States and 10th ranked Australia. Despite this, Sweden still should have had a good showing even in such a group. However, the Swedes proves lackluster in the group stage. Their first game against Nigeria set the tone for Sweden’s group stage performance with a rough 3-3 draw to the minnow of the group Nigeria. Sweden went up by two goals in the first half from an own goal by Nigeria’s Desire Oparanozie and a second goal from defender Nilla Fischer. However, Nigeria quickly rebounded in the second half. Goals from Ngozi Okobi in the 50th minute and Asisat Oshoala in the 53rd minute brought the match level again barely ten minutes into the second half. Sweden took the lead again in the 60th minute, but another goal from Nigeria in the 87th minute kept the match level and denied Sweden a win. Sweden fared no better against either the United States or Australia, drawing both teams and scraping through on goal differential as the 4th third place team.

For the teams that made their debuts at this Women’s World Cup, most have already bowed out. Sweden’s advance to the round of 16 came at the expense of Thailand, who played well but proved no match for a group that contained Germany and Norway. Thailand had a few good runs against both teams, but in the end allowed four goals in to each. However, Thailand did have one positive to take home from Canada in their victory over the Ivory Coast. While Ivory Coast scored early in the 4th minute, two goals from Orathai Srimanee put Thailand ahead at the end of the first half. Thainatta Chawong secured the win for Thailand with a third goal in the 75th minute, two minutes after she was brought on to replace Srimanee. Going into the round of 16, only three teams making their first World Cup appearance remain: Cameroon, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. Cameroon is also Africa’s only representative left in the tournament after the elimination of Nigeria and the Ivory Coast.

Round of sixteen:
Germany vs. Sweden
France vs. South Korea
China vs. Cameroon
United States vs. Colombia
Brazil vs. Australia
Japan vs. Netherlands
Norway vs. England
Canada vs. Switzerland

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