THE TOURNAMENT REPLAYED – “There will be a before and after the Women’s World Cup 2019,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino at the closing press conference of the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™.
The 'during' was certainly eventful, as USA retained the title they won at Canada 2015 and lifted the trophy for a fourth time. Runners-up in only their second appearance in the competition, the Netherlands continue to make history of their own, two years after winning the European title, while Sweden claimed a top-three finish for the fourth time. As for France, they fulfilled their promise to stage the greatest Women’s World Cup of all time.
Led by their two captains, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe, USA cruised through the group stage, which they began with a tournament-record 13-0 defeat of Thailand. When tested by world-class opposition in the shape of Spain, France and England in the knockout rounds, the Americans found a way, scoring early in each match and withstanding everything their opponents had to throw at them. And when it came to the final hurdle, the USWNT lived up to their reputation, beating the Netherlands thanks to stellar performances from Rapinoe and breakthrough star Rose Lavelle.
Oranje make history: While they ended the tournament in tears following their Final defeat, the Dutch will be returning home heroines. Tournament newcomers only four years ago, they are now officially the second best team on the planet.
Tokyo here we come: With France 2019 doubling up as the UEFA qualifying competition for next year’s Women's Olympic Football Tournament, the Dutch also booked a place at Tokyo 2020. They will be joined there by losing semi-finalists Sweden and England. The three European places available at the Olympics have rarely been so hard to claim, with seven of the eight quarter-finalists at France 2019 all hailing from the continent.
Famous firsts: Tournament debutants South Africa, Chile, Scotland and Jamaica all scored their first Women’s World Cup goals, though only La Roja managed to go on and win a match, against Thailand. Spain also earned their maiden world finals victory, while Argentina and Scotland collected first-ever points thanks to their dramatic 3-3 draw.
Individual performers: Mana Iwabuchi (Japan), Caroline Graham Hansen (Norway), Asisat Oshoala (Nigeria), Gabrielle Onguene (Cameroon), Sam Kerr (Australia) and Cristina Girelli (Italy) all excelled on the big stage but were unable to take their teams any further than the Round of 16 or quarter-finals. Picking out individual stars from the four semi-finalists was a tough task, although Lucy Bronze and Ellen White (England), Rose Lavelle and Julie Ertz (USA), Sofia Jakobsson and Caroline Seger (Sweden), and Vivianne Miedema and Jackie Groenen (Netherlands) all played big parts in their teams’ superb campaigns.
French dream unfulfilled: Perhaps the most eagerly awaited match of the tournament, the quarter-final between hosts France and defending champions USA proved to be an engrossing and suspenseful battle that eventually went the way of the world’s top-ranked team. Once their tears of disappointment had dried, however, Les Bleues could take pride from the passion and enthusiasm they had aroused across the country thanks to their fine performances and exemplary spirit.
End of an era?: France 2019 may well prove to be the World Cup swansong for some of the world's finest players. Among the stars perhaps bidding adieu are the Brazilian trio of Marta, Formiga and Cristiane, Canada’s goalscoring legend Christine Sinclair, Norway keeper Ingrid Hjelmseth, and USA idols Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe and Ali Krieger. While the future is in safe hands with the next generation of talents, these star performers are sure to be missed if they do not return to the big stage in 2023.
Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China PR, England, France, Germany, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Korea Republic, Nigeria, Norway, New Zealand, Netherlands, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, USA
Grenoble, Le Havre, Lyon, Montpellier, Nice, Paris, Reims, Rennes, Valenciennes
146 (average of 2.8 per match)
SEE YOU AT THE FIFA WOMEN’S WORLD CUP IN 2023!