Women’s World Cup: Group E Preview
The 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup is set to kickoff on Saturday. Group E might be the second toughest of any of the groups, behind only Group D (U.S., Sweden, Nigeria, Australia). This World Cup is one that should provide a lot of excitement, as there is no clear favorite to hoist the championship trophy. None of the teams in Group E have ever won the Women’s World Cup, but the group includes the Marta-led Brazilians, Costa Rica, Korea Republic, and Spain. This group is Brazil’s to lose, but you never know.
Brazil–No. 6 FIFA Ranking
Team Brazil has never won the Women’s World Cup (runner-up in 2007), though they have the talent and flash to make it happen. Led by superstar Marta, they are an excellent passing team that provides a flashy, yet technical attack. Their biggest strength is that they’ve been on the big stage for years. The main area for concern is whether or not Brazil’s defense can back up their ferocious attacking front. Look for new Brazil coach, Vadão, to lead this team deep into the knockout stage. After all, Brazil was very close to playing in the World Cup Final in 2011; losing to the U.S. on penalty kicks after a late defensive lapse.
Costa Rica–No. 40 FIFA Ranking
Costa Rica is making their Women’s World Cup debut in Canada this year. What better way to be introduced to World Cup action than being thrown into a group with a powerful Brazil team? Costa Rica, unlike Brazil, is solid on the back line. They center their attack around midfielder Shirley Cruz and have a young and talented front. They finished in second place behind the U.S. at the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship, and surprised many people by doing so. Costa Rica’s age might cost them in matches against teams like Brazil, but they aren’t the only team in Group E that has no World Cup experience.
Korea Republic–No. 17 FIFA Ranking
This is only their second Women’s World Cup, but they might pose a problem for teams in Group E. In their previous World Cup (2003), they didn’t make it past group stage play. Korea Republic played the U.S. in a World Cup warm-up game last Saturday, had multiple scoring chances in the international friendly, but settled for a 0-0 draw. They should be able to test defenses of teams in Group E, with players like Ji So-yun and Park Eun Sun, but they tend to rely on a 4-4-2 strategy.
Spain–No. 16 FIFA Ranking
Spain is another team with no previous experience in the Women’s World Cup. They are similar to Brazil, in that they have a solid, technical attack, but struggle on defense. They qualified for the 2015 World Cup by finishing first in European qualifying, and the other teams in Group E had better take notice of Spain’s attack. Vero Boquete is a playmaker, but Natalia Pablos led Spain in World Cup qualifying with 12 goals scored. Spain scored 42 goals and only allowed two in qualifying, winning nine out of ten matches.
Group E will most likely be won by Brazil, but all the teams in this group can attack. At the same time, they all tend to struggle on defense. What does this mean for fans? Expect some highly technical scoring, and lots of fireworks offensively. Goal differential might come into play more in this group than any other, which might help them sneak three teams into the knockout round.
Is Brazil the clear favorite in a group that includes two teams that have never been to the Women’s World Cup? Will there be some surprises? Leave your comments in the section below.
Dustin Brown covers the Women’s World Cup for MFST, and you can follow him on Twitter @SprtsWritingMan.