The first stage of the Women’s World cup is over and we are down to the last eight teams and the quarter-final knockout stages. So far, the tournament, being held in Germany, has been a great success, and it looks like the women’s game is finally getting the media recognition it deserves. There have been some cracking games already in front some big crowds – over 70,000 saw Germany take on Canada and even the less high profile Norway vs Equatorial Guinea had 13,000. In the knockout stages, I’m sure the crowds are going to increase, too.
So, who are the favourites, which team is the dark horse, who are players to watch and which game should we keep our eyes on?
Clearly the hosts, holders and ranked second in the world, Germany, are the favourites. Home advantage and a strong group stage means this is the team to beat. But they have a tricky tie against Japan – a team that has won a lot of admirers because of their technical skills.
Hot on their heels, however, are the Sweden and Brazil. In fact all three teams, Germany, Sweden and Brazil topped their groups and were undefeated. But Brazil have a tough quarter final against pre-tournament favourites, the US. Sweden take on Australia and will expect to progress to the semis.
Ranked 10th in the world, England, come into the quarter finals, a stage they reached last World Cup, after a terrific win over a strong Japanese team – Japan had been compared to Spain in the men’s World Cup because of their possession football, and short passing game. England’s 2-0 win will give them self belief and if they can get past France in the quarters, they could surprise the rest. A definite dark horse.
The Leading Ladies
Marta of Brazil and evergreen Birgit Printz the German captain, are well known stars of the women’s game, but which other players have shone on the World cup stage this time around? Well, the dark horses, England will have to watch out for Louisa Necib, the tricky French midfielder and her close ball control. The double act of Homare Sawa and Aya Miyama of Japan is also catching the imagination of fans. The former is the top scorer in the competition with three goals so far – mostly feeding off Miyama’s dead ball deliveries. Watch out Germany.
The quarter final to watch
If you had to choose just one game to watch out of the four quarter finals, which should it be. Germany vs Japan, England vs France, Sweden vs Australia, or Brazil vs the US? For my money, it has to be the hosts and champions taking on the only Asian representatives in the last phase, Japan. Germany have it all – the experience, the title, a good mix of youth and experience, as well as home advantage. On the other hand, you have Japan, with their pace and passing ability, as well as a fantastic skill on the ball.
Germany vs Sweden and England vs Brazil in the semi finals.
be held in: be hosted by, be organised by
cracking: very exciting, great, brilliant
keep (you) eyes on: focus on, be interested in, concentrate on
tricky: difficult, hard
hot on their heels: close behind, nearly on the same level
evergreen: a veteran that plays like a young player, someone with lots of energy (despite their age)
catch the imagination: make people pay attention, make people notice, make a positive impression
for my money: in my opinion, I think, if I had to bet