2019 Women's World Cup: Group C Preview
It's time to look at Group C, which consists of Australia, Brazil, Italy and Jamaica. Australia and Brazil are the two heavyweights in this group, and that's reflected by the odds at FanDuel Sportsbook.
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Which teams, players and matchups should you focus on in Group C?
According to FanDuel Sportsbook, this group is expected to be the tightest race for first. Australia's -130 win odds are the lowest for any group favorite while Brazil's +105 odds are the best odds for any team expected to finish second. It would be a shock if someone other than one of those two sides finished in one of the top-two spots in Group C as Italy (+1400) and Jamaica (+6500) aren't quite the caliber of Brazil and Australia.
The Aussies are the sixth-best team in the world, per FIFA's official rankings, and they cruised to three straight wins in the FFA Cup of Nations in their most recent non-friendly matchups. In that event, they topped Argentia, South Korea, and New Zealand by a combined score of 9-1, netting multiple goals in each match. Australia scheduled tough friendlies against the United States and The Netherlands in their lead-up to the World Cup. They fell by a 5-3 score to the US while the Netherlands matchup takes place June 1st.
Samantha Kerr paced the squad in the FFA Cup of Nations, totaling three goals, while Emily Gielnik had two goals and an assist. Kerr, Lisa De Vanna, and Caitlin Foord accounted for the goals in the 5-3 friendly defeat to the US.
Team of Intrigue
It's hard to lose nine games in a row in any sport, but that's what Brazil has managed to do coming into the World Cup. While they've fallen in nine in a row, five of them were friendlies, and it's hard to put too much stock in those. The other four defeats were to really good teams -- the US (twice), Japan and England, all of whom are in the top seven of FIFA's World Rankings.
Plus, oddsmakers have Brazil at -105 to win the group, implying 51.2% odds, so they aren't too scared of their recent form -- although Brazil is just the eighth-most likely team to win the tourney, listed at +2400.
Brazil's last competitive matches came roughly three months ago in the SheBelives Cup, where they fell 2-1 to England, 3-1 to Japan and 1-0 to the Americans. Debinha and Andressa Alves scored the side's two goals, and the legendary Marta has their lone goal across two 2019 friendlies.
Despite their poor form coming in, Brazil is still viewed in a pretty positive light by bookmakers and is capable of winning Group C.
Sam Kerr, Australia
The aforementioned Marta is a world superstar and still a very good player, but the top player in this group is Kerr.
In 2018, the Australian forward put together another superb campaign, netting 16 goals in her first year for the Chicago Red Stars -- moving from Sky Blue FC prior to the season -- and giving her the NWSL's Golden Boot for the second straight season. Adding to that her work for the Matildas in international play, she finished the calendar year with a whopping 29 goals.
At -1000, the Aussies sit fifth in betting odds to win the tourney, but they're a good bit back from the big four of France (+340), United States (+340), Germany (+500) and England (+650). They could potentially run into England in the quarterfinals (more on that shortly), and Kerr gives them a shot to topple any team in this tournament.
Match in Focus
Australia vs. Brazil -- June 13th
This matchup has the potential to be one of the better group stage games, and it will go a long way toward deciding who takes Group C.
These two have some history. In the last World Cup, Australia sent Brazil home by winning 1-0 in the Round of 16 thanks to an 80th-minute winner. Brazil got some measure of revenge when they met up in the 2016 Olympics, with Brazil going through on penalties after a scoreless draw. Australia won 6-1 back in the 2017 Tournament of Nations, and the Aussies won 2-1 and 3-2 in a pair of 2017 friendlies.
In Kerr and Marta, two of the better attacking players in this tournament will be featured in this game, and there's a good chance both teams will be coming off wins in their opening match as Brazil is listed at -1800 to beat Jamaica while Australia is -170 to win against Italy.
What Lies Ahead
The Group C winner will take on a third-place team from Group A, B or F in the Round of 16 and will be a healthy favorite in that match barring something unforeseen happening. In the quarters, the Group C winner will see either the Group E winner or the Group D runner-up -- likely to be one of Netherlands, Canada, England or Japan -- in what should be a great matchup.
The runner-up from Group C will play the Group A runner-up in the Round of 16, with that probably being South Korea or Norway, assuming France wins Group A. In the quarterfinals, a matchup with the Group D winner awaits, with the top spot in Group D likely coming down to England or Japan.