The FIFA Women’s World Cup continues over the next few weeks in cities across Canada. Here in Ottawa, some of the top teams in the world are playing, including No. 1 ranked Germany. TD Place (renamed ‘Lansdowne Stadium’ for the duration of the tournament) hosted it’s first double-header on June 7, with 20,000+ fans taking in the Germany-Côte d’Ivoire and Norway-Thailand games.
The group stage features two more double-headers in Ottawa, on June 11 and June 17. Before you take in more soccer action, don’t go in blind, read our cheat sheet to the rest of the group stage games at Lansdowne!
World Rank: 1
Previous World Cups: 1991 (4th), 1995 (2nd), 1999 (quarterfinals), 2003 (champions), 2007 (champions), 2011 (quarterfinals)
Summary: Germany hosted the last World Cup in 2011 and were knocked out in the quarter-finals by Japan. With their eyes on making up for a missed opportunity four years ago, the German side went into their opening match looking to make a statement, and it was emphatic. They come into the tournament missing a few key goal scorers, but that clearly didn’t matter as they thrashed Côte d’Ivoire 10-0 (yeah, 10). They should win the group easily, barring an upset (see: Norway).
Player to Watch: Anja Mittag. I mean, she’s…. pretty good. You know, if 11 goals in 10 games in World Cup qualifying is ‘good’. Oh, and she scored a hat trick against Côte d’Ivoire. A goalie’s nightmare.
World Rank: 11
Previous World Cups: 1991 (2nd), 1995 (champions), 1999 (4th), 2003 (quarterfinals), 2007 (4th), 2011 (group stage)
Summary: Winners of the 1995 World Cup, Norway have always been a strong side. However, they’ll be looking for a major improvement over the 2011 tournament where they were knocked out in the group stage. Having quickly become fan favourites in Ottawa, they should have a lot of the crowd on their side. Norway should provide Germany with their only true test in the group stage. Win or lose, they should move on to the Round of 16 no problem.
Who to Watch: Isabell Herlovsen. Scored twice in the opening match against Thailand. A quick and accurate shooter, she is known for being dangerous even when she is playing as the lone striker. If Norway is going to upset Germany, look for Herlovsen to play a big role.
World Rank: 67
Previous World Cups: None
Summary: This is Côte d’Ivoire’s first trip to the World Cup, having shocked South Africa in qualifying to get here. They’re opening match dismantling at the hands of Germany wasn’t a huge surprise, given the Ivorians youth and lack of experience. They often have their forwards switch sides multiple times during games, which can make even a seasoned defence have fits. They should be a tough match for Thailand, and may even steal a point or three.
Who to Watch: Ida Guehai. This Ivorian midfielder has been playing for the national team since the age of 16. A consumate playmaker, all offence comes by way of Guehai. If Côte d’Ivoire is to sneak in to the Round of 16, she will have to be at her best. She’ll be looking for top striker Estelle Nahi all night.
World Rank: 29
Previous World Cups: None
Summary: For Thailand, qualifying for the World Cup is already an astonishing accomplishment, having upset some much more experienced Asian teams to qualify. One of the smaller sides in the tournament, Thailand lost their opening match 4-0 to Norway. This lack of size will only be more noticeable against the more physically imposing Germans. With a positive result against Côte d’Ivoire, they may squeak into the Round of 16, but likely no further.
Who to Watch: Nisa Romyen. Known as much for her tenacity as her playfulness, she should be the most entertaining player on the field. A talented goal scorer as well (14 goals in 9 international games), look for her to try some trick moves against Côte d’Ivoire
World Rank: 25
Previous World Cups: 1999 (group stage), 2011 (group stage)
Summary: Many players from the squad in 2011 have returned for 2015. Realistically, Mexico doesn’t pose a real threat to France, and likely won’t move past the Round of 16, but they have upset higher ranked teams before, notably the United States before the 2011 World Cup. Against France though, they will be fighting to keep it close.
Who to Watch: Cecilia Santiago. The Mexican goalkeeper is only 20 years old, but is already playing in her second World Cup. Easily one of the best keepers in the tournament, she’s good for a few jaw-dropping saves per game.
World Rank: 3
Previous World Cups: 2003 (group stage), 2011 (4th place)
Summary: France have been dominant the last few years, rising quickly in the world rankings to 3rd. They’re expected to win Group F, although the match against England will likely determine who wins the group. If France loses that game, Mexico can expect to see a very, very angry team.
Who to Watch: Louisa Necib. Maybe the games most creatively brilliant player over the course of her career so far, she has been compared, rightfully, to Zinedine Zidane. At 28 she is in her prime and is a main reason France is one of the favourites in this tournament.
World Rank: 18
Previous World Cups: 2003 (group stage)
Summary: The Koreans have a lot of talent, but they’re quite young and not terribly big. They won’t give a team like Brazil much trouble, but against Spain they may pose a threat. This tournament will be valuable experience for a team full of youth, and an upset against the Spanish isn’t out of the question.
Who to Watch: Ji So-Yun. Already having been named the women’s Player of the Year in England, this will be Ji So-Yun’s coming out party on the world stage. A playmaker and goal-scorer, she played a starring role on Chelsea’s women’s team, and will be dangerous whenever she’s on the field. She’ll be the motor that powers the offence for Korea Republic.
World Rank: 14
Previous World Cups: None
Summary: I know what you’re thinking, NO previous World Cup appearances?? Spain?? It’s true. In macho Spain, women’s soccer has received proper funding only very recently. Now ranked 14th in the world, they’ll be playing for the respect of the soccer public back home, as much as for themselves. Brazil is expected to win Group E, but Spain should move on in second, though they should not take their match against Korea Republic lightly.
Who to Watch: Veronica Boquete. Though Spain is not considered a powerhouse yet, they do boast arguably one of the best players in the world in Boquette. Playing professionally for the German women’s league champions Bayern Munich, and previously named 2011 American Women’s Professional League Player of the Year, Boquette sees the game at another level, and can dictate the pace of a game at will. In the same category as Canada’s Christine Sinclair or Brazil’s Marta.
Now that you have all that you need to know, it’s time to get to a game! Remember, your ticket is also good for a bus ride on OC Transpo or STO both to AND from the stadium. There is also a bike valet on site.
World Cup Schedule in Ottawa:
Group B: Germany v. Norway @ 4pm
Group B: Côte d’Ivoire v. Thailand @ 7pm
Group F: Mexico v. France @ 4pm
Group E: Korea Republic v. Spain @ 7pm
Round of 16 game @ 4pm (Teams TBD)
Round of 16 game @ 5pm (Teams TBD)
Quarter-Final match @ 7:30pm (Teams TBD)