The 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand is set to kick off, and our soccer experts are here to give you a full preview.
Read on for analysis of Group B of the tournament, which includes Australia, Canada, Nigeria and the Republic of Ireland.
Australia enter the World Cup thanks to two excellent results in friendlies against two of the best competitors to lift the entire trophy. The Aussies beat England 2–0 to snap the Lionesses’ 30-match unbeaten run, and followed that up with a 1–0 win against Hervé Renard’s France in the immediate run-up to the tournament. Australia are a -170 favorite to top Pool B, which is one of the most balanced at the top due to Canada.
The Australians are led by Chelsea’s Sam Kerr, considered one of the best strikers in the world. She has 54 goals in her last 67 matches in the Women’s Super League and scored five in the last World Cup despite Australia losing in the round of 16.
Australia is ranked 10th in the FIFA world rankings and 11th in the Elo ratings. Tony Gustavsson has been their coach since 2020 and tried to improve their depth. Defensively, the Matildas are good in the passing game and like to press high to try and win the ball. Offensively, the offense will run through Kerr, who can carry any team.
Home field advantage has increased their chances of winning this group and pushed them into the upper tier of contenders. But even with Kerr, the home team and recent wins against England/France, the road will be difficult. A second place finish in this group would leave them paired against England in a possible round of 16. Winning the group would set up a possible quarter-final clash with France.
Canada is the highest-ranked team in this group in terms of rating (7th overall), but is the second favorite to win the group due to its hometown. The Canadians won Olympic gold in 2021 in Tokyo, the highlight of their history as a women’s soccer nation.
Any discussion of the Canadian national team begins with 40-year-old Christine Sinclair, who is still putting up great numbers with the Portland Thorns in the NWSL. Sinclair operates in an attacking midfielder role, specializing in the 14 zone just outside the opposing penalty area. While she doesn’t offer the same defensive performance at this stage of her career, her chance creation is as good as any attacking midfielder in this competition.
Canada and Australia have met twice in the past year, with Canada winning both games by a single goal. Although the underlying numbers would lean towards the Aussies being the better team in those matches, it doesn’t make much of a difference in this case. With both matches being played in Australia, Canada has plenty of experience in a potentially hostile environment.
His midfield duo Juventus’ Julia Grosso and Chelsea’s Jessie Fleming really held their own against the United States in the CONCACAF final last year. It was an eventual 1-0 loss to the USWNT, but the Canadians were very competitive throughout.
With both Canada and Australia heavy favorites over the two teams in the group, there is a good chance that both teams will have six points before they meet on the final day of the group stage. The difference between winning the group and finishing second is likely to be huge when it comes to deciding the quality of the round of 16 opponent.
Nigeria’s defense is a big question mark going into this tournament, but they have two players that they absolutely must watch. Barcelona’s Asisat Oshoala is one of the most interesting attacking players in this competition after she led the club to a Champions League title this season and created the third most xG in that contest. She added 21 F League goals this season in just 16.6 90 and had the most xG per 90 of any player in the world’s top eight leagues.
His goalscoring production combines well with that of Atlético de Madrid. Rasheedat Ajibade. Ajibade plays alongside Oshoala in an attacking midfield role and the two will test the inconsistent defenses of the two best teams in the group.
The problem for Nigeria comes from trying to prevent other teams from scoring and managing problems off the pitch. There is a confrontation between the players and the NFF (Nigerian Football Federation) over the payment of bonuses. In fact, there is no guarantee that Nigeria’s first match against Australia will take place given this dispute. A boycott remains unlikely, but possible.
Nigeria is consistently in the World Cup and has long dominated Africa, but the nation’s grip on AFCON may be waning. The Super Falcons lost to Morocco and South Africa and then lost the third place playoff to Zambia.
Success in Africa has not translated into World Cup success for the Super Falcons in the past, and this iteration of Nigeria has less overall talent and depth than previous teams. Although Oshoala and Ajibade can lead them to big goals, their record playing against the top 10 teams in the world is spotty.
It’s hard to chart the way forward, but I’d like to bet them on the final game as losers to Ireland if the motivation is still there on the day of the final game.
Republic of Ireland
Ireland is one of eight debutants at the Women’s World Cup. The Irish beat Scotland 1-0 to secure their place in the top 32 and now face an uphill battle to get out of a group with two of the top 10 teams in the Elo rankings. Ireland enter this tournament ranked 33rd in the overall standings, but recent results in the run-up to the tournament have helped build some buzz around them as a potential dark horse.
They have played five friendlies since clinching their place in the World Cup: a goalless draw with China, two losses to the USWNT by respectable scores of 1-0 and 2-0, a 3-2 win against Zambia and a loss for 3-0. to France. However, there is no area on the pitch that Ireland really excels at to cause problems for teams with superior talent.
Ireland are a possession-averse team: they only had 31% of the ball in their first loss against the USWNT. They play a medium to low blocking 5-4-1 safety and don’t build up from behind. 16% of his passes are long balls and it’s a pretty direct approach to getting the ball into the opponent’s box.
Their best chance to score could come from set pieces, an area in which Ireland rank well above average in efficiency. As much as they commit to defending with numbers behind the ball, Sweden and the USWNT have had no problem creating quality and xG opportunities. In a different group with a weaker second team, Ireland might have been alive to advance. However, given the quality of Canada and Australia, they are likely to be three and ready for this side of Ireland.
Schedule Group B
|July 20th||6 a.m. Eastern time||Australia v Republic of Ireland|
|July 20th||10:30 p.m. Eastern Time||Nigeria vs. Canada|
|July 26||8 a.m. Eastern time||Canada v. Republic of Ireland|
|July 27th||4 a.m. Eastern time||australia vs nigeria|
|July 31st||6 a.m. Eastern time||Republic of Ireland v Nigeria|
|July 31st||6 a.m. Eastern time||Canada vs. Australia|
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