2019 Women's World Cup: Group D Preview
The 2019 Women’s World Cup is days away, so what better time to take a closer look at the sides set to comprise the 24-team field?
With two top-six teams in the fold and a pair of plucky underdogs with potential, there’s much to like about Group D. Per FanDuel Sportsbook, England is the team to beat in the group and one of the favorites to potentially win the tournament, while 2011 champions Japan aren’t far off the pace.
Which teams, players and matchups should you be watching in Group D? Let’s dive in.
Could football really be coming home after all?
After England’s men came close to glory in Russia 12 months ago, Phil Neville’s Lionesses will look to go two steps further than Gareth Southgate’s charges in hopes of earning the nation’s first major international soccer trophy since 1966.
By all accounts, this just might be the team to do it.
What a day. 23 names. 23 announcements. One team.#BeReady pic.twitter.com/HTMhRJYHy3
— Lionesses (@Lionesses) May 8, 2019
England enter France 2019 amid high expectations after reaching the semifinals in their last two major tournaments (World Cup 2015, EURO 2017) and winning this winter’s SheBelieves Cup over stalwarts Brazil, Japan and the United States.
The uptick in results coincides with increased interest and investment domestically, which has led to a talent boom in the birthplace of the game.
Gone are the days of the English national team comprising of Kelly Smith and not much else. This vintage boasts top-rated players at nearly every position, including the consensus choice for world’s best right back in Lucy Bronze and an attack that features reigning WSL Player of the Year Nikita Parris, EURO 2017 Golden Boot winner Jodie Taylor and “Mini-Messi” Fran Kirby, to name a few.
The side showed their class during a qualifying campaign that saw them net 29 goals and concede just once, a dominant run that helped push them to No. 2 last year in their FIFA World Rankings, their highest-ever position.
Still, no team is perfect, and the Lionesses are no exception.
Neville’s squad has looked slightly subdued in their quartet of recent tune-matches, a stretch that’s included a pair of 1-0 defeats to fellow World Cup 2019 participants Canada and New Zealand.
Not helping matters is the loss of attacking midfield dynamo Jordan Nobbs, an automatic selection in England’s run to the EURO 2017 semis but a spectator since being sidelined in November with a torn ACL.
Still, injuries and recent form aside, there’s a reason FanDuel Sportsbook gives them the fourth-best odds to be the last team standing in Lyon on July 7.
Team of Intrigue
Few international teams in the women’s game have had more success this decade than Japan.
With a World Cup title in Germany in 2011 and runner-up finishes at the London Olympics in 2012 and the 2015 World Cup in Canada, the island nation’s resume speaks for itself.
THREE DAYS until the FIFA Women's World Cup!
Moment No. 3: Japan rally twice to beat the USWNT on penalties in the 2011 final, just 4 months after a devastating tsunami hit the country.