Group D: USA and France coast into quarters
As expected in Group D, the two favourites, the USA and France, secured their qualification for the quarter-finals in straightforward fashion.
While the French showed plenty of potential during their first match with Argentina , they then endured a slight dip in form. As for the Americans, they won all three of their encounters, albeit without ever really showing their full capabilities.
The Congolese, meanwhile, proved that they fully deserved their place at the tournament, while the Argentines made up for a hugely disappointing start to the tournament by chalking up a fine win in their last match.
1. United States, 9 pts
Watching the American team at this tournament so far has been a strange experience. They have won all three games, scored seven goals and taken first place in the group, but there remains nonetheless a feeling of underachievement.
Tim Schulz's girls clearly have a remarkably settled game and irrefutable athletic ability, but they lack a certain sparkle for the moment. The American coach has practised extensive squad rotation, presumably seeking to galvanise this well-oiled, but somewhat uninspiring machine.
"In the United States, we don't have this football culture and we're not fed a constant diet of matches on TV like in Europe," their coach has said. "Consequently, we're still a bit behind in terms of tactical and even technical development, which means I have to count on our mental strength, that will to win we have in our country."
Brought on to great effect against France having already been on target against Congo DR , forward Jessica Rostedt epitomises this American desire. Hyperactive, she has been highly effective in everything she has done. Also noteworthy has been the great consistency of the midfield duo Alexandra Long and Amanda Poach, both equally efficient at ball-winning.
Tobin Heath, a winger-turned-wingback, has also been one of the key driving forces, and the defensive trio of Jordan Angeli, Stephanie Logterman and Nikki Krzysik have all made impressive starts to the tournament. That said, the side as a whole will need to show a little more dynamism and creativity if they are to carve open the Germans in the last eight.
2. France, 6 pts
The mesmerising start made to the competition by Les Bleuettes suggested that they might spring a big surprise. After they put in five goals and a flawless performance against the Argentines with a particularly free-flowing display of attacking football, everything in the garden looked decidedly rosy.
With Louisa Necib and Amandine Henry pulling all the strings, Elodie Thomis and Marie-Laure Dely applying the finishing touches, and Jessica Houara and Laure Boulleau galloping down the flanks, they appeared to have found the perfect blend. However, in their second match of the tournament against the Congolese, they found the going a lot tougher, ekeing out a 1-0 win in which the best two performer were, arguably, the consistent degensive pair of Morgane Courteille and Coralie Ducher.
During their last match against the US, France may have been defeated, but they still matched their opponents for long periods. "For us, this game was good experience of the top level and, in a way, our first match of this kind," was the verdict of coach Stephane Pilard. "It has shown us we've still got a long way to go."
3. Argentina, 3 pts
After a catastrophic start against the French, Jose Carlos Borrello faced a difficult task re-motivating his players. However, despite another one-sided score line (1-4) in their second outing, the Albicelestes put in a good performance against the US, with Mercedes Pereyra netting their first goal of the tournament.
Then, in their last match against the Congolese, their improved form reached its peak with a 4-0 win over DR Congo. Player of the Match Ludmila Manicler bagged a hat-trick and set up the other, while Florencia Quinones and Maria Potassa offered splendid support to the rampant Rosario Central striker.
It will certainly have served as some comfort for Borrello, who has always maintained that they were in Russia first and foremost to learn.
4. Congo DR, 0 pts
When the tournament began, numerous observers were speculating on the size of the drubbings Congo DR might suffer. After their cancelled preparations, difficult training conditions and convoluted travel plans, the omens did not augur well for the African side. Nevertheless, right from the start of their first game against the US, the Congolese proved they possessed both courage and talent.
Resisting almost until the end, Poly Bonghanya's girls showed a great deal of promise. Tresorine Nzuzi forged a number of openings up front, Odile Kuyangisa made a sizeable creative contribution in midfield, Guyssie Kiuvu was dogged in defence and Mamie Buazo assured between the posts.
They demonstrated the same qualities during their second game against the French, during which the African side's combativeness was plain for all to see. "It was a first world championship for us and although we came up against some top teams, we fought well, so I'm really proud of my players," said the Congolese coach after that game.
Needless to say, he wasn't quite so proud after their last match - that 4-0 thumping by Argentina - but Congo, though homeward-bound without a point to their name, rarely looked out of their depth.