The 19th FIFA Women’s World Cup will be held from September 22 to October 1 in the Australian city of Sydney. Twelve teams will try to do well in the United States, the reigning champion. Les Bleues will want to erase their poor results in 2018 (5th).
Group A: US in force
Defending champions and big favorites for the competition, the United States, should dominate this group, where the top four will qualify. They are undefeated in international competition since their defeat in the 2006 World Cup semi-finals against Russia. Belgium, which finished 4th at the last World Cup in 2018 after losing in the semi-finals to the Americans and Spaniards for 3rd, will be one of the great underdogs of the competition. The Belgians know how to surprise.
China’s best performance in this competition dates back to 1992 from the finalist spot, an eternity. In 2018, she was eliminated in the quarter-finals against eventual finalist Australia. Bosnia, Puerto Rico and Korea will fight for fourth and last place in qualifying. The Bosnians will have to work until the last day because they have to face the Americans, who are certainly already qualified, but even qualified they will work hard to prepare as best as possible for the rest of the competition.
For their debut in the competition, the Bosnians will not be eligible to play their first match as they will face a direct qualifying opponent; Porto Rico.
In 2018, South Korea and Puerto Rico finished last in their group, this year they will want to leave this place. Of the three teams, Bosnia seems to have the most arguments and the best qualifying squad. Four years ago, Puerto Rico was already in Belgium’s 1st group, with Puerto Rico finishing last.
Group B: France expected without observation tour
France, which finished 5th in the last edition of 2018 and the bronze medalist of the Tokyo Olympics, has a lot to do in the group with Australia, Japan, Mali and Canada. Les Bleues will get to the heart of the matter with the Australians, one of the favorites of the tournament and the host of this competition.
France wants to erase their disappointing 5th place in 2018. She finished 2nd in her group behind Canada before being knocked out in the quarter-finals by Belgium (86-65) while the French were among the favorites for the competition.
They beat China in the 5th place match. Three years later, Valerie Garnier’s wards won a bronze medal at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, they want to confirm this medal. The group has changed little compared to the Olympics, the youth (Fotu, Rupert, etc.) gained experience, the managers remained.
However, France is leaving for Australia with many questions as they are back with a new project with Jean-Aimé Toupan, who has been named coach in place of Valerie Garnier. The group is the toughest of the two with Serbia being the reigning European champions, a title obtained by beating… France in the final (63-54). It was in June 2021, shortly before the Tokyo Olympics, where Les Bleues took revenge by defeating Serbia to take the bronze medal (91-76).
Serbia are old acquaintances, both sides know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and the game in Australia must be tight and tactical. Japan has two wins left over France, in the 2021 Olympics group stage (74-70) and then in the semi-finals (87-71).
Japan, surprise country
It is difficult for the Japanese to play the title champions of Asia, vice-champions of the Olympic Games. Nigeria, who beat Les Bleues in February (67-65), and Canada round out the group. In addition to finishing in the top four for qualifying, France will need to get the best place possible to avoid the United States in the next round in a competition they fail to do well.
Les Bleues are actually more comfortable at the European Championships with two titles in 2001 and 2009 and five silver medals in their last five championships (2013, 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2021) than at the World Championships where their last podium was bronze medal in 1953.
The French team has the potential to climb the podium if they finish in the top three in this very difficult group, they can dream of a medal by avoiding the United States too early in the competition.