While USA and France look to be the logical favourites for Group D, neither Argentina nor DR Congo should not be taken lightly. 

The section's first two games pit the Americans against the Africans and the French against the South Americans.

DR Congo  v  USA
Moscow (Torpedo), 18 August, 16:00 local time

This amounts to a meeting between a giant of women's world football, USA, and a novice in this category, Congo. In view of their experience and lengthy honours list, the US should prevail, but coach Tim Schulz is erring on the side of caution.

"I don't know anything about Congo, apart from the little I've heard via the media," he acknowledged. "However, I'm always a little bit worried by African teams because they are often unpredictable, especially up front. The key will be to keep men behind the ball at all times, perfectly positioned and with players ready to cover. If we do that correctly, we should come out on top."

The Americans have been preparing for five months, clocking up the friendlies (50 since January), and Schulz is delighted with his players' collective and individual development. "The team is excellent in the air and controls the play well," he said. "What's more, we're lucky enough to have good strength in depth."

The CONCACAF representatives have arrived in Russia with a point to prove, having been eliminated at the semi-final stage in 2004, when they were also hot favourites, not to mention holders. However, their coach is reluctant to heap too much pressure on his young charges. He said: "The first aim is to give the girls a taste of a real tournament. We don't have a regular continental championship like the Europeans and there is no club championship, so we've got some catching up to do in terms of experience. And the players are also here to showcase their talent to the coach of the A team, as that has to be their ultimate goal."

In the Congolese camp,  Polycarpe Issotonga  admits to being a little worried by the fact that "we've made a bit of a mess of our preparations". A planned European training camp never took place and the coach is well aware that the US are impressive athletes: "They are a very strong team, whose great strengths are speed of execution and physical power. But we are capable of troubling them with our own style of play."

As he seeks to overturn the established order, Issotonga will rely on a traditional 4-4-2 formation. However, he will primarily be banking on the natural exuberance and desire of his players, a point he has been placing particular emphasis on over recent days. He said: "We shouldn't have any inhibitions. I've told the girls, 'Try to feel that you are at home here. We haven't come here just to lose. Play, express yourselves, as you're here representing your beloved continent and you don't want to let our great Congo down'."

The Americans have been warned. 

France  v  Argentina
Moscow (Torpedo), 18 August, 19:00 local time

European runners-up in 2005 and 2006, the French remain among the contenders for the world title and will therefore start as slight favourites against the Argentines. Les Bleuettes' staff have studied the South Americans' style of play meticulously, but their coach  Stephane Pilard  is reiterating his basic principle: "We'll be concentrating first and foremost on our game. We'll start out with our usual 4-4-2 system, which we may then adapt according to how the game shapes up."

However, Pilard also acknowledges that the fixture list, which sees his side take on the US in their final group game, has smiled upon them. "We know that if we can get a positive result against Argentina, a win against the Congolese will stand us in good stead, as then the last group game against the United States would not be make or break." Having said that, there is no question of France having a superiority complex against the Albicelestes. "They love to play football the right way. Above all, they are very strong in individual duels, and quite aggressive in the best sense of the word."

Among the Argentines, it is pretty much backs to the wall time. In their warm-up games, the South American runners-up suffered two defeats at the hands of the Swiss, including one demoralising 5-1 reverse. "Of course I wasn't happy with the result," admits Carlos Borello. "But the purpose of these friendlies is to identify shortcomings and acquire experience."

Moreover, this harsh football lesson was delivered out the day after the South Americans arrived in Europe, so their below-par performance should be viewed in that context. Borello is fairly optimistic going into the match against France, regarding the two teams as similar in level: "Generally, we find it tough going against very athletic sides, but the French have a similar profile to us, even if they are a bit quicker. I believe it will make for a very interesting game."

All will be revealed at the  Torpedo stadium on 18 August.