17/04/2024

Germany will be looking to win their third World Cup (Picture: FIFA Women's World Cup Twitter)

Over the next four weeks, 32 nations will take part in the biggest football tournament to hit Australian shores since the 2000 Olympics, this time co-hosting with New Zealand.

The Inner Sanctum will be analysing and previewing all eight groups of the Women’s World Cup in what should be a fascinating month of football.

Experienced World Cup campaigners Sweden and Germany are expected to top their respective groups; however there will be plenty of competition for the final two knockout spots. Group G sees the enticing battle between Argentina, Italy and South Africa for a knockout spot, while Colombia will try to fend off Morocco and South Korea for second in Group H.  

Group G:

Argentina

Yet to win a World Cup game in their history, Argentina have got their best chance to rectify that at this tournament. La Albicelesteare is unbeaten in regular time this year and will be looking to put it on the world stage. If the Copa America semi-finalists are to advance to the knockout stage, they need to execute against tougher opposition. Despite having beaten New Zealand twice in New Zealand, the Argentines let seven goals through against Spain and two against Canada late last year. Their opening group match against Italy at Eden Park on Monday will most likely decide their fate in what is a difficult group for the Argentines. 

Full Squad: 

Goalkeepers: Vanina Correa (Rosario Central), Lara Esponda (River Plate), Abigail Chaves (Huracán)

Defenders: Adriana Sachs (Santos), Eliana Stabile (Santos), Julieta Cruz (Boca Juniors), Aldana Cometti (Madrid CFF), Sophia Braun (Leon), Miriam Mayorga (Boca), Gabriela Chavez (Estudiantes)

Midfielders: Vanesa Santana (unattached), Romina Nunez (UAI Urquiza), Daiana Falfan (UAI Urquiza), Dalila Ippolito (Parma), Lorena Benítez (Palmeiras), Camila Gomez Ares (Universidad de Concepcion), Estefania Banini (Atletico Madrid)

Forwards: Paulina Gramaglia (Red Bull Bragantino), Yamila Rodriguez (Palmeiras), Florencia Bonsegundo (Madrid CFF), Mariana Larroquette (Orlando Pride), Chiara Singarella (University of Alabama), Erica Lonigro (Rosario Central)

Coach: Germán Portanova 

One to Watch: Yamila Rodriguez (Age: 25 – Forward/Palmerias)

Sporting tattoos of Cristiano Ronaldo and Diego Maradona, Rodriguez will be hoping to emulate their World Cup successes when the Argentines play down under. Playing in her first World Cup, the 2022 Copa America Golden Boot winner will prove a handful for opposition defences. Her goal-scoring prowess will be a huge factor in where they finish. 

Group Prediction: Third

Italy

Italy’s form line leading into the World Cup is hard to read. Throughout the qualifying stage, the Italians only leaked two goals, while they found the back of the net on 40 occasions. However, Le Azzurre lost five games on the trot (three of which against teams who haven’t qualified) but are unbeaten in their last four matches (all against World Cup teams). Any signs of inconsistency could be dangerous, potentially leading to a disastrous exit. Nonetheless, this campaign will be a learning curve for most of the side, with half of the squad below the age of 25. 

Full Squad: 

Goalkeepers: Rachele Baldi (Fiorentina), Francesca Durante (Inter Milan), Laura Giuliani (AC Milan)

Defenders: Elisa Bartoli (Roma), Lisa Boattin (Juventus), Lucia Di Guglielmo (Roma), Martina Lenzini (Juventus), Elena Linari (Roma), Benedetta Orsi (Sassuolo), Cecilia Salvai (Juventus)

Midfielders: Arianna Caruso (Juventus), Valentina Cernoia (Juventus), Giulia Dragoni (Barcelona B), Manuela Giugliano (Roma), Giada Greggi (Roma), Emma Severini (Fiorentina)

Forwards: Chiara Beccari (Como), Barbara Bonansea (Juventus), Sofia Cantore (Juventus), Valentina Giacinti (Roma), Cristiana Girelli (Juventus), Benedetta Glionna (Roma), Annamaria Serturini (Roma)

Coach: Milena Bertolini

Arianna Caruso (Photo: Italy Women’s National Soccer Team Twitter)

One to Watch: Arianna Caruso (Age: 23 – Midfielder/Juventus)

With two Serie A championships to her name at the age of 23, Caruso has experienced playing on winning teams, a valuable asset for this Italian outfit. The Juventus youngster brings more to Le Azzurre than success. Her impact as a box-to-box midfielder has been noteworthy for both her club and country. Look out for her name on the scoresheet during this tournament after she scored six goals in World Cup qualification, including four against Moldova. 

Group Prediction: Second

South Africa

The South Africans face an uphill battle in their group, but the Africa Cup of Nations winners are capable of causing a few upsets. Banyana Banyana will be wanting to put together a better showing than what they did in their debut campaign four years ago. Their 2019 campaign saw them fail to secure a single point, letting through eight goals. This time around, South Africa have a stable midfield who are composed under pressure, while the speed of their frontline attack will cause headaches for the opposition.     

Full Squad: 

Goalkeepers: Andile Dlamini (Mamelodi Sundowns FC), Kaylin Swart (JVW FC), Kebotseng Moletsane (Royal AM)

Defenders: Karabo Dhlamini (Mamelodi Sundowns FC), Fikile Magama (UWC), Lebohang Ramalepe (Mamelodi Sundowns FC), Tiisetso Makhubela (Mamelodi Sundowns FC), Noko Matlou (SD Eibar), Bambanani Mbane (Mamelodi Sundowns FC), Bongeka Gamede (UWC)

Midfielders: Kholosa Biyana (UWC), Refiloe Jane (Sassoulo FC), Sibulele Holweni (UWC), Nomvula Kgoale (TS Galaxy), Linda Motlhalo (Glasgow City), Robyn Moodaly (JVC FC)

Forwards: Gabriela Salgado (JVW FC), Jermaine Seoposenwe (FC Juarez), Noxolo Cesane (Tigres Femenil), Melinda Kgadiete (Mamelodi Sundowns FC), Wendy Shongwe (University of Pretoria), Hildah Magaia (Sejong Sportstoto), Thembi Kgatlana (Racing Louisville)

Coach: Desiree Ellis

One to Watch: Linda Motlhalo (Age: 25 – Midfielder/Glasgow City)

Colloquially known as the ‘Randfontein Ronaldinho’, Motlhalo has been plying her trade at Glasgow City, where she won the 2022/23 Scottish Women’s Premier League. The attacking midfielder was a scoring threat in the Africa Cup of Nations qualification, scoring the second-most goals for the tournament. Motlhalo also put Banyana Banyana into the Africa Cup of Nations final after a 94th minute penalty broke the deadlock against Zambia. Expect her to have a similar impact in New Zealand.  

Group Prediction: Fourth

Sweden

The third-ranked side in the world have had a topsy-turvy run into the tournament. They reached the semi-finals of the European Championships after going down to eventual winners and hosts England 4-0. However in the last eight months, Sweden have also suffered losses against co-hosts Australia and Denmark.

The Swedish could still be playing deep into August provided they play their best football, although anything less could prove costly for the Scandinavians considering their competition.    

Full Squad: 

Goalkeepers: Jennifer Falk (BK Hacken), Zecira Musovic (Chelsea), Tove Enblom (KIF Orebro)

Defenders: Linda Sembrant (Juventus), Magdalena Eriksson (Chelsea), Jonna Anderson (Hammarby IF), Amanda Ilestedt (PSG), Nathalie Björn (Everton), Hanna Lundkvist (Atletico Madrid), Anna Sandberg (BK Hacken)

Midfielders: Caroline Seger (Rosengard), Kosovare Asllani (AC Milan), Olivia Schough (Rosengard), Elin Rubensson (BK Hacken), Filippa Angeldahl (Manchester City), Hanna Bennison (Everton), Johanna Rytting Kaneryd (Chelsea)

Forwards: Sofia Jakobsson (San Diego Wave), Stina Blackstenius (Arsenal), Fridolina Rolfo (Barcelona), Lina Hurtig (Arsenal), Madelen Janogy (Hammarby IF), Rebecka Blomqvist (VfL Wolfsburg)

Coach: Peter Gerhardsson 

Stina Blackstenius (Picture: Swedish Football Twitter)

One to Watch: Stina Blackstenius (Age: 27 – Striker/Arsenal) 

Appearing in her second World Cup, the Arsenal striker is ready to flip the tournament on its head. Scoring the most goals for the Gunners at all levels during an impressive 2022/23 season, the attacker can change the game in an instant, an asset that will be beneficial in Sweden’s campaign. Although the Swedish have an array of goal scorers, keep an eye out for Blackstenius. 

Group Prediction: First

More Football News:

Group H:

Colombia

If you ever needed an indicator that one team means business this World Cup, then look no further than Colombia and the events that transpired last week. Their friendly against Ireland was abandoned 23 minutes in, due to their over physicality. Irish players reportedly feared for their safety, leading to the early finish. 

Whether it raises concerns or demonstrates passion, the reigning Copa America finalists can be a dark horse in this tournament if they bring the same intensity. Boasting the talents of 2022 Copa America Golden Ball winner Linda Caicedo, as well as role players in Atletico midfielder Leicy Santos and captain Daniela Montoya, Los Cafeteras is a huge chance to win the group and make a deep run.   

Full Squad:

Goalkeepers: Catalina Perez (SE Kindermann-Avaí), Natalia Giraldo (América de Cali), Sandra Sepulveda (Independiente Medellín).

Defenders: Ana Maria Guzman (Deportivo Pereira), Angela Baron (Atlético Nacional), Carolina Arias (Junior FC), Daniela Arias (América de Cali), Daniela Caracas (RCD Espanyol), Jorelyn Carabalí (Atlético Mineiro), Mónica Ramos (Gremio.

Midfielders: Daniela Montoya (Atlético Nacional), Diana Ospina (América de Cali), Lorena Bedoya (Real Brasilia), Manuela Vanegas (Real Sociedad), Marcela Restrepo (Dux Logroño), María Camila Reyes (Independiente Santa Fe)

Forwards: Catalina Usme (América de Cali), Elexa Bahr (América de Cali), Ivonne Chacon (Valencia Féminas C.F.), Lady Andrade (Real Brasilia), Leicy Santos (Atlético de Madrid), Linda Caicedo (Real Madrid), Mayra Ramirez (Levante UD)

Coach: Nelson Abadía 

One to Watch: Linda Caicedo (Age: 18 – Forward/Real Madrid) 

Recent winner of the Copa America Golden Ball, Caicedo could benefit the most from her maiden World Cup. Already a member of a storied club in Real Madrid at just 18 years of age indicates that the forward could be a star for the future. If she can hit the ground running on debut, Colombia could be a serious threat in this tournament.  

Group Prediction: Second

Germany

Germany is clearly the favourite to top Group H, as the world number two looks to win their third World Cup. On the back of their runners-up finish at the 2022 EUROs, the Germans have had an unimpeded run into the major tournament, besides their recent 3-2 loss to Zambia in their friendly a fortnight ago. 

Regardless, Germany has the perfect balance of youth and experience headlined by VfL Wolfsburg teammates Alexandra Popp and Lena Oberdorf. Players who both possess the hunger needed to win a World Cup, they will be instrumental if Germany is to win their first World Cup in 16 years. What separates Die Nationalelf from the other competitors is that 17 of the 22 players selected in their final squad play for either VfL Wolfsburg, Eintracht Frankfurt or Bayern Munich, so the cohesiveness is already present.

Full Squad:

Goalkeepers: Ann-Katrin Berger (Chelsea), Merle Frohms (VfL Wolfsburg), Stina Johannes (Eintracht Frankfurt)

Defenders: Sara Doorsoun (Eintracht Frankfurt), Marina Hegering (VfL Wolfsburg), Kathrin Hendrich (VfL Wolfsburg), Sophia Kleinherne (Eintracht Frankfurt), Sjoeke Nusken (Chelsea), Felicitas Rauch (VfL Wolfsburg)

Midfielders: Sara Dabritz (Lyon), Chantal Hagel (1899 Hoffenheim), Svenja Huth (VfL Wolfsburg), Lena Lattwein (VfL Wolfsburg), Melanie Leupolz (Chelsea), Lina Magull (Bayern Munich), Lena Oberdorf (VfL Wolfsburg)

Forwards: Nicole Anyomi (Eintracht Frankfurt), Jule Brand (VfL Wolfsburg), Klara Buhl (Bayern Munich), Laura Freigang (Eintracht Frankfurt), Alexandra Popp (VfL Wolfsburg), Lea Schuller (Bayern Munich)

Coach: Martina Voss-Tecklenburg

Lena Oberdorf (pictured left) (Picture: VfL Wolfsburg Twitter)

One to Watch: Lena Oberdorf (Age: 21 – Midfielder/VfL Wolfsburg)

Lena Oberdorf has flourished since making her senior debut at 16 years of age. However it wasn’t until the 2022 EUROs where the young midfielder was recognised for her efforts. Winning the Young Player of the Tournament award and being selected in the Team of the Tournament, the 21-year-old was pivotal in the Germans first finals berth since 2013. Germany will need a similar tournament performance from Oberdorf throughout the tournament if they are any chance of taking home their third World Cup trophy.   

Group Prediction: First

Morocco

Morocco is definitely considered as underdogs this World Cup. Playing in their maiden World Cup, the Atlas Lionesses will use the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations as a steppingstone, finishing runners up in that tournament. Draws against Italy and Switzerland earlier in the month will boost their confidence, indicating that they can match it with some of the competition stalemates. However, not scoring a goal since February would be a worrying sign for the side.

Full Squad:

Goalkeepers: Ines Arouaissa (Cannes), Khadija Er-Rmichi (ASFAR), Assia Zouhair (SCCM)

Defenders: Hanane Ait El Haj (ASFAR), Nouhaila Benzina (ASFAR), Siham Boukhami (ASFAR), Ghizlane Chhiri (ASFAR), Nesryne El Chad (Lille), Rkia Mazrouai (Charleroi), Yasmin Mrabet (Levante), Zineb Redouani (ASFAR), Sabah Seghir (Sampdoria)

Midfielders: Ghizlane Chebbak (ASFAR), Najat Badri (ASFAR), Anissa Lahmari (Guingamp), Sarah Kassi (Fleury), Elodie Nakkach (Servette)

Forwards: Salma Amani (Metz), Rosella Ayane (Tottenham Hotspur), Anissa Belkasmi (Orleans), Sofia Bouftini (RS Berkane), Kenza Chapelle (Nantes), Fatima Gharbi (CE Europa), Samya Hassani (Telstar), Ibtissam Jraidi (Al-Ahli), Sakina Diki (Bruges), Imane Saoud (Servette), Fatima Tagnaout (ASFAR)

Coach: Reynald Pedros

One to Watch: Rosella Ayane (Age: 27 – Forward/Tottenham Hotspur)

A prominent member on the scoresheet when Morocco find the back of the net is Tottenham Hotspur forward Rosella Ayane. Formerly an England junior, the 27-year-old has scored nine goals in her 21 international appearances. For the team to have any impact on the tournament, Ayane needs to be in full flight.    

Group Prediction: Fourth

South Korea

Under the guidance of former Leicester City defender Colin Bell, South Korea have improved throughout his tenure, but still face a tough proposition touching down in Australia. Colombia, Germany and Morocco also reached the final of their respective continental competitions, indicating that their Group H opponents are on a similar wavelength when it comes to pre-tournament form. 

Winless in their previous World Cup campaign, the Asian Cup runners-up will be looking to at least score a point and improve on their efforts in France. 

Full Squad:

Goalkeepers: Kim Jung-Mi (Incheon Hyundai SRA), Ji-Soo Ryu (Seoul WFC), Yoon Young-Guel (BK Häcken)

Defenders: Kim Hyeri (Incheon Hyundai SRA), Shim Seo-Yeon (Suwon UDC), Lee Youngju (Madrid CFF), Lim Seonjoo (Incheon Hyundai SRA), Jang Selgi (Incheon Hyundai SRA), Choo Hyo-Joo (Suwon UDC), Hong Hye-ji (Incheon Hyundai SRA)

Midfielders: Kim Yun-Ji (Suwon UDC), Bae Ye-Bin (Uiduk University), Lee Geummin (Brighton), Jeoun Eun-Ha (Suwon UDC), Cho Sohyun (Tottenham), Ji Soyun (Suwon UDC), Chun Ga-Ram (Hwacheon KSPO)

Forwards: Kang Chaerim (Incheon Hyundai SRA), Moon Mira (Suwon UDC), Park Eun-Sun (Seoul WFC), Son Hwayeon (Incheon Hyundai SRA), Choe Yu-Ri (Incheon Hyundai SRA), Phair Casey Yu-Jin (Players Development Academy)

Coach: Colin Bell

One to Watch: Choo Hyo-Joo (Age: 22 – Defender/Suwon)  

South Korea pride themselves on being a versatile team and one player who comes to mind when the word versatile is mentioned is Choo Hyo-Joo. Starting at left back and centre back throughout the Asian Cup, Hyo-Joo is also a known midfielder, who can threaten on the counterattack. 

Group Prediction: Third

About Author