World Cup 2019: Rating largest threats to USWNT repeat, from France to Japan and again

World Cup 2019: Rating largest threats to USWNT repeat, from France to Japan and again 1

It won’t require a soccer knowledgeable to establish the opponent that poses the best risk to america nationwide staff in its quest to turn out to be the primary U.S. staff to earn consecutive FIFA Ladies’s World Cup titles.

The match is in France. The French staff is admittedly good. If each the U.S. and France carry out effectively and end first of their respective group-stage competitions, they may meet in a quarterfinal sport.

So, yeah, it is France.

MORE: Favorites, outsiders and underdogs in newest World Cup odds

It would not harm to listen to that from an knowledgeable, although.

“I just think that team is so explosive. They’re so dangerous in the attack,” Fox Sports activities analyst Aly Wagner informed Sporting Information. “If we consider that the defense is perhaps the question mark of this U.S. side, that’s going to be a big, big test for them.”

Wagner stated France is “so entertaining to watch – how fast these girls are, explosive, athletic and then insanely deft touch, and soft touch and cohesiveness. It’s a beautiful thing to watch. And they’re very good defensively, so it’s going to be hard to break them down.”

France will not be the one staff that may pose a risk to the U.S. plan to win it once more, nonetheless. This can be a rating of the best threats to the USWNT:

1. France

World rating: No. 4
Finest earlier end: Fourth, 2011
Coach: Corinne Diacre

Star participant: D Wendie Renard, who stands 6-2, has gained the UEFA Ladies’s Champions League 4 instances with Lyon and was named to the all-star staff on the 2015 World Cup. She has been the staff captain for France since 2013.

Why them? They’re essentially the most ominous challengers for america as a result of they are going to be enjoying at house, and there’s a superb probability they are going to be enjoying the U.S. earlier than any of the opposite championship contenders get a shot. If the Individuals win their group (as anticipated), France wins its group (as anticipated) and each get by means of spherical of 16 video games, they might meet in a quarterfinal set for Parc Des Prince in Paris.

The Lyon squad that has dominated the Champions League is dominated by French gamers, with six starters together with midfielder Eugenie Le Sommer (74 profession objectives) and goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi. Nevertheless, France has but to excel at a significant match. Their finest end on the Olympics is fourth, and so they have been eradicated within the quarterfinals of the 2017 European Championships.

2. England

World rating: No. 3
Finest earlier end: Third, 2015
Coach: Phil Neville

Star participant: F Ellen White was named England’s participant of the 12 months in 2018, the second time she earned that honor. White has 28 objectives in 80 caps as a part of a balanced assault that can also function veteran Toni Mead and promising younger forwards Nikita Parris and Beth Mead.

Why them: Though his appointment initially was controversial, Neville’s work with the staff since January 2018 has been profitable. The staff has performed 19 matches, incomes 11 victories and 4 attracts, together with the title on the 2019 SheBelieves Cup.

Since their beautiful 3-Zero loss to the Netherlands within the semifinals of Euro 2017, the Lionesses have carried out effectively of their main aggressive matches. On the SheBelieves Cup in 2018, they reached the ultimate and misplaced to the U.S., 1-0. They then gained the occasion this 12 months by dominating Japan within the title sport. Their robust Group D draw places them into pool play with Japan. Whichever of these groups emerges because the winner might affect a possible semifinal sport for the U.S.

3. Germany

World rating: No. 2
Finest earlier end: Champion, 2003 and 2007
Coach: Martina Voss-Tecklenburg

Star participant: MF Dzsenifer Marozsan was runner-up for the Finest FIFA Ladies’s Participant award final 12 months, when she helped drive Lyon to the second of three consecutive Champions League titles. Marozsan performs as an attacking midfielder or ahead and owns 32 objectives in 90 caps. She has been part of groups that gained the Olympic gold medal in 2016 and Euro 2013. She scored Germany’s first objective in a 2-1 Olympic remaining victory towards Sweden.

Why them: The one purpose Germany would not rank greater on this checklist is the very fact its draw seemingly will place the staff within the reverse bracket from the U.S. Their semifinal sport in 2015 was a implausible, taut sport through which the Americas didn’t break by means of till they have been awarded a penalty kick within the 69th minute; the U.S. finally gained, 2-0.

One impediment for Germany is the novelty of its coach. Not lengthy after the frustration of Euro 2017 and one other dud on the 2018 SheBelieves Cup, the federation selected to vary coaches and had an interim deal with the World Cup qualifying match. Voss-Tecklenburg is a former Germany nationwide staff participant who had been teaching Switzerland.

MORE: World Cup 2019: The evolution of Carli Lloyd

4. Japan

World rating: 7
Finest earlier end: Champion, 2011
Coach: Asako Takakura

Star participant: Defender/midfielder Saki Kumagai by no means has been credited with a objective in 103 appearances for Japan – and but she scored the largest objective within the nation’s historical past. How can that be? Nicely, she took the decisive penalty kick within the shootout that determined the 2011 FIFA Ladies’s World Cup. Kumagai beat U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo, and Japan gained the world title for the primary time. Kumagai has gained 4 Champions League titles with Lyon and transformed the decisive penalty in a 2016 title-game shootout.

Why them: Except a protection that includes three gamers who personal greater than 100 caps, Japan is fielding a comparatively younger and inexperienced squad and constructing towards the Olympic Video games that will probably be contested in Tokyo subsequent summer season. However Japan has gotten some glorious ends in latest matches, together with a 2-2 draw with the U.S. in February on the SheBelieves Cup and one other in a pleasant towards Germany.

The Japan squad could also be reloading, however this nonetheless is a program that made three main finals this decade, and 4 gamers have been 2011 World Cup winners.

5. The Netherlands

World rating: 8
Finest earlier end: Spherical of 16, 2015
Coach: Sarina Wiegman

Star participant: F Vivianne Miedema scored 20 objectives in 17 league video games for Arsenal in England’s Ladies’s Tremendous League this previous season, and 9 in eight video games because the staff superior to the FA WSL Cup remaining. She has scored 58 objectives in 75 appearances for the Netherlands, together with 4 at Euro 2017, when the Dutch scored their first main worldwide championship.

Why them? That is a good query, given this nation has reached the World Cup solely as soon as earlier than in its historical past. It is a bit of a leap to anticipate this staff to conquer such competitors in solely its second journey to the World Cup.

However the victory on the Euros was spectacular sufficient to make it appear doable. They outscored their opponents by a composite 13-3, together with 9-2 within the knockout rounds, and so they certified simply for this World Cup towards a bunch that included Denmark, Switzerland and Norway.

6. Australia

World rating: 6
Finest earlier end: Quarterfinals, 2007, 2011, 2015
Coach: Ante Milicic

Star participant: F Sam Kerr continues to be solely 26 however has scored extra objectives than anybody within the historical past of the NWSL – she has second-placed Christine Sinclair by 15 objectives – and has accrued 31 objectives for the Matildas, with whom she first appeared at age 15.

Why them? Twelve of the 23 gamers on the Australia roster compete within the NWSL, in order that they know the American staff effectively and now not are intimidated to face them. The Matildas defeated the U.S. for the primary time on the 2017 Match of Nations (and went on to win the match over Japan and Brazil).

The issue for Australia, very similar to Germany, is adjusting to a brand new coach at this stage. In opposition to the needs of Kerr and a number of different gamers, the Soccer Federation Australia fired earlier coach Alen Stajcic in January and changed him with Milicic.

MORE: Remembering the 1999 World Cup staff that modified the historical past of the game

7. Canada

World rating: 5
Finest earlier end: Fourth in 2003
Coach: Kenneth Heiner-Moller

Star participant: F Christine Sinclair is 35, which might not be the best age for the pivotal participant on a staff with championship ambitions, however she’s nonetheless acting at such a excessive stage it is not sensible to maneuver on from her. Sinclair has 181 objectives in 281 appearances for Canada, together with a dozen over the previous two seasons.

Why them? The U.S. has dominated Canada by means of their shared historical past, with 49 victories in 59 video games – which is the explanation Canada is not greater on this checklist. These two have performed some phenomenal video games in main competitions, together with their epic showdown within the semifinals of the 2012 Olympics. However the U.S. gained each time.

Regardless, it is a polished staff with glorious expertise, together with 9 who play within the NWSL. It is also a younger staff with a lot promise: 4 gamers, together with 18-year-old Texas Longhorns midfielder Julia Grosso, nonetheless are enjoying NCAA soccer.

8. Sweden

World rating: 9
Finest earlier end: Second, 2003
Coach: Peter Gerhardsson

Star participant: MF Caroline Seger, at age 34, has performed 193 instances for her nation and nonetheless is a fixture in midfield. On a staff that has thrived by attempting to suffocate high opponents, nobody has greater than 32 profession objectives, so the tempo nonetheless flows from Seger’s capability to regulate and distribute the ball and break up performs when obligatory.

Why them? Followers of the USWNT have not but forgotten the staff’s disappointing loss to Sweden within the quarterfinals of the 2016 Olympic Video games. Sweden performed a bunkered model below former coach Pia Sundhage – who had been in command of the U.S. for Olympic triumphs in Beijing and London – and finally gained a penalty shootout.

Now, as was the case in 2015, Sweden is within the U.S. group. That one additionally was no enjoyable, ending in a 0-Zero draw. The Individuals are going to need to get their revenge within the third sport of pool play, but it surely’s doable/seemingly that shedding the sport would not put them in a lot worse place, relative to its knockout spherical draw, than profitable it. That is why Sweden ranks solely eighth right here, although it is the one staff assured of dealing with the U.S.

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