Experienced duo in Group D

Excitement aplenty was guaranteed for Group D at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011™ with the inclusion of two genuine forces on the global scene in Brazil and Norway. Nor will they have things all their own way in the battle to reach the knockout stages, with Asian champions Australia and CAF African Women's Championships runners-up Equatorial Guinea completing a highly competitive section.

“We’re going to be fully focused when the football starts,” said Brazil coach Kleiton Lima, who is already eyeing a repeat of the China 2007 decider, which A Seleção lost 2-0 to Germany. “It’d be a dream to reach the final here and meet the host nation. We’ve got every respect for them, but we want to get our own back.”

Norway supremo Eli Landsem, for her part, spoke of the difficulties her side will face when up against four-time FIFA World Player Marta. “She’s the best player in the world and to tell you the truth, I don’t know how we’re going to stop her. We could put a couple of walls up I suppose,” joked Landsem, the Norwegian senior side’s first female head coach. “That said, one player can’t beat us all on her own, it’ll take a whole team.”

The favourites
Though Norway were world champions in 1995 and Olympic gold medallists in 2000, in recent years it is Brazil who boast the better record, after finishing runners-up at China 2007 and taking Olympic silver medals at both Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008. Boasting inspirational No10 Marta and having been handed the favourites’ tag by their group rivals, will A Amarelinha finally be brides rather than bridesmaids come Germany 2011?

The players to watch
Marta (BRA), Cristiane (BRA), Lene Mykjaland (NOR), Isabell Herlovsen (NOR), Lisa De Vanna (AUS), Colette McCallum (AUS), Miriam Paixao Silva (EQG).

The big game
Brazil-Norway: The section favourites will meet on 3 July in Wolfsburg as part of the second round of Group D matches, with the result sure to impact on both sides’ hopes of qualifying for the quarter-finals in first place.

The stat
1.0 – The number of goals per game that Marta has averaged over two FIFA Women’s World Cup final tournaments. Having hit three goals at USA 2003, the Brazilian struck seven times at China 2007 to take the adidas Golden Boot award.

Have your say
How do you see Group D panning out?