It was back in April that the qualifying campaign for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015™ began. Of the 42 participating European sides, only the seven group winners are guaranteed a place at the tournament in Canada.
Nearly eight months on, several teams appear to be pulling away at the top of their respective groups. *FIFA.com *rounds up the latest news from the qualifying stage, with several of the frontrunners strengthening their positions over recent days.
*Germany in control, Spain move clear
*With five wins from five matches, in which they have scored 40 goals and conceded none, Germany continue to dominate proceedings in Group 1. Croatia bore the full brunt of the current European champions' attacking prowess in their final game of the calendar year, Silvia Neid’s team running out 8-0 winners. “We wanted to finish the year on a high – 2013 has been a lot of fun,” said Dzsenifer Maroszan, who scored four times against the Croatians. “It was our way of saying thank you to our fans, who have given us tremendous support throughout the year.”
Like Germany, Group 2 leaders Spain also finished the year with their perfect qualifying record intact, and even managed to extend their lead over second-placed Italy to six points. Ignacio Quereda’s team secured a narrow 1-0 victory against Romania, before overcoming Czech Republic 3-2.
*Netherlands close the gap, Israel in hot pursuit
*Having suffered a 2-1 defeat to Norway in their previous qualifying game, the Netherlands drew level on points with the Norwegians and Belgium at the top of Group 5 with a 7-0 victory over Greece, who have yet to register a single point after four matches. Belgium and Norway’s next qualifying fixtures take place next year.
The Israeli women’s national team remain hot on the heels of Group 3 leaders Switzerland after a 3-1 win over Serbia in only their second match of the current qualifying campaign. The Group’s top two teams face each other on 12 February.
France run riot
France, who finished fourth at the last World Cup and at the 2012 Olympics, continued their recent scoring spree with two resounding victories over Bulgaria: Goals from Eugenie Le Sommer, Elise Bussaglia, Wendie Renard (two), Gaetane Thiney and Marie-Laure Delie (three each) sealed a 10-0 win for *Les Bleues *in Bulgaria, before the same opponents were routed again in Le Mans just five days later.
Bussaglia, Renard (two each), Thiney and Le Sommer (four each) found the net in a 14-0 demolition, with Louisa Necib, Laura Georges and Camille Abily completing the score. Finland, who have to wait until April for their next qualifying match, remain in hot pursuit of the French with three victories from three matches.