Group E: Brazil face stiff test

FIFA Women’s World Cup™ runners-up in 2007 and led by Marta, the player who once reigned supreme in the female game, Brazil are still regarded as serious contenders for the prestigious trophy. Placed in Group E, which contains two newcomers to the tournament, the South Americans would appear to be on a different level from the other teams in their section.

However, Spain and Costa Rica, as well as Korea Republic, making their second appearance on the global stage, are now reaping the benefits of generations that previously excelled at major youth competitions.

The big game *Brazil - Spain, 13 June 2015, Olympic Stadium, Montreal, 16:00 local time* While a match between the fifth most successful team in the history of the event and a side making their debut may seem uneven at first glance, that assessment does not take into account some of Spain’s recent performances. Although individual technical ability is the hallmark of A Canarinha, the Spaniards will likely respond with the same fast, accurate and devastatingly effective collective style that was so successful for the country’s men’s side for such a sustained period.

UEFA European Women’s U-19 champions in 2004 and fresh from a Canada 2015 qualifying campaign that saw them win nine out of ten matches, La Roja are finally enjoying the fruits of the labour put in by their coach, Ignacio Quereda, who has been in charge since 1988, when Marta was just two years old.

The skilful Brazilian has since gone on to become the joint top scorer (with Birgit Prinz) in the history of the tournament with 14 goals, and remains her nation’s biggest goal threat. At the other end of the pitch, Veronica Boquete will pose the greatest danger to the former finalists’ rearguard.

What else to expect Costa Rica, also making their first World Cup appearance, should not feel too out of their element. Not only do they not have too far to travel, but the CONCACAF representatives, coached by Uruguayan Garabet Avedissian, possess a core of talented young players who came into their own in 2014, first at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup on home soil, and then at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, also held in Canada.

The same goes for Korea Republic, whose squad includes many of the players who were crowned U-17 world champions in 2010, as well as more experienced heads such as captain and defensive midfielder Cho So-Hyun and goalkeeper Kim Jung-Mi. As for their coach, Yoon Deok-Yeo, he will have to live up to the confident statement he made after the Final Draw. “Out of the six seeds, I was hoping to get Brazil. That’s why I’m happy with the outcome,” he told in Ottawa. He duly got his wish, and the Koreans will kick off their World Cup campaign against the South Americans on 9 June.