A Look Ahead at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup

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By: Tiffany Weimer

This summer, the grandest of women’s sporting events will take place throughout nine cities in Germany.  The 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, which is slated to be the most competitive tournament since its inception in 1991, will bring the world together to celebrate its most popular game.

Starting on Sunday, June 26, sixteen teams will compete for the chance to call themselves world champions, an opportunity that presents itself once every four years.  With over 650,000 tickets sold, 75 percent of the available tickets, and media coverage from most of the major networks all over the world, the popularity of the event speaks for itself.

Credit Image: Ame Dedert/APA/ZUMApress.com

 

Here’s your quick guide to following along this summer:

 

Group A – Germany, Canada, Nigeria, France           

“Not in our house”

Germany has won the last two competitions (2003, 2007) and as the host nation, look to have the advantage coming out of Group A.  Their toughest in-group opponent will be Canada, but there’s no doubt they will advance out.  Canada has shown their dominance on the world stage as of late, especially with prolific goal-scorer and captain, Christine Sinclair, leading the way.  France will look to advance for the first time in their history with what is arguably their best squad, while Nigeria can potentially make advancing difficult for each team.

Players to Watch:

Christine Sinclair (Canada)

Sonia Bompastor (France)

Camile Abily (France)

Inka Grings (Germany)

Alexandra Popp (Germany)

 

Games to Watch:

Germany vs. Canada  - June 26

Canada vs. France – June 30

 

Group B- Japan, New Zealand, Mexico, England

“Photo-finish”

After seeing both England and Mexico against the USA in the past year, it’s safe to say this is one of the most competitive and evenly matched groups in the tournament.  Look for Kelly Smith’s performance to determine most of England’s fate.  Though Japan and England may be the favorites to advance, I don’t think you can count anyone in or out here.  This will be the group to watch in my opinion.  Mexico’s defeat of the USA in CONCACAF qualifying has brought them a new sense of confidence, and New Zealand, though youthful, will have an opportunity to solidify their spot at the highest level.

Players to Watch:

Kelly Smith (England)

Aya Miyama (Japan)

Fara Williams (England)

Maribel Dominguez (Mexico)

Amber Hearn (New Zealand)

Ali Riley (New Zealand)


Games to Watch:

Mexico vs. England – June 27

England vs. Japan – July 5

 

Group C- USA, Korea DPR, Colombia, Sweden

“Yawnnnn… I hear a sleeper”

Despite the USA having the number one spot in the FIFA World rankings, this group has the most potential for a major upset. Coming off a strong pre-tournament showing against Mexico, Sweden seems to be peaking at the right time. Historically, Korea DPR has shown well against top teams and could easily upset the USA or Sweden on an off night.  Colombia is competing in its first World Cup and will have nothing to lose. 

 

Players to Watch:

Caroline Seger (Sweden)

Lotta Schelin (Sweden

Hope Solo (USA)

Abby Wambach (USA)

Yoreli Rincon (Colombia)

 

Games to Watch:

USA vs. Korea DPR – June 28

Sweden vs. USA – July 6


Group D- Brazil, Australia, Norway, Equatorial Guinea

“Stop Marta? What?”

Group D is another competitive group with three teams having a good chance to advance.  Brazil and Norway are both contenders to win the whole tournament.  The Brazilians play a style that will be fun to watch, with five-time FIFA Player of the Year, Marta leading the attack.  The Norwegians, coming off a 3-1 pre-tournament win over the USA, are known to be well organized and physically strong.  Australia is an up-and-coming program that will look to make an impact this year, and Equatorial Guinea has the advantage of being a complete unknown, competing in their first ever World Cup.

 

Players to Watch:

Marta (Brazil)

Lisa De Vanna (Australia)

Elise Thorsnes (Norway)

Lisa Marie Woods (Norway)

Cristiane (Brazil)

 

 

Games to Watch:

Brazil vs. Norway – July 3

Australia vs. Norway – July 6


You mean, there’s more than a trophy at stake?

Prize Money

Winner USD - 1,075,000 

Runners-up USD - 875,000 

3rd place USD - 725,000 

 

Final Thoughts

There’s one word that will separate this year’s World Cup from previous ones: parity.  In the past, teams like Germany, Norway and the USA have reigned supreme, but now the rest of the world is catching up and there’s no telling what we’ll see in Germany this summer.  One thing you can count on though, is seeing the most talented players, playing with a passion that only comes from representing their country, in the most prominent event for women’s soccer in the world. 

Follow the Women's World Cup at www.ourgamemagazine.com.  

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