Welcome back to a new round of World Cupdate, y’all! Last year I kept you up to speed on the FIFA Men’s World Cup, and now I’ll be focusing on the FIFA Women’s World Cup, which just kicked off in good ol’ France this past Friday! I’ll be filling you in on Mondays and Fridays to get you ready for the week and/or weekend ahead starting RIGHT NOW!
For starters, VAR (the Video Assistant Referee, which allows for precise after-the-fact checks re: handballs, off-side, goal line technology, etc.) continues to be a major topic of discussion as it is both a blessing and a goddamn curse! It’s already caused tons of goals to be given and taken away, and it is FRUSTRATING AF.
In terms of what all has happened so far, France kicked South Korea’s ass in the first official match of the tournament. While this isn’t necessarily surprising (and is great news for the host nation), it’s significant because of the goal differential – with a whopping four goals scored, it puts France at the top of Group A, and also slots it as the highest goal scoring country thus far.
Saturday kicked off with Germany facing off against China, and the Germans really slogged through thanks to a borderline robotically-organized Chinese squad. Germany was able to eek out a goal in the end, but not without considerable difficulty. Though scoreless, props to China for puttin’ up a good fight.
We also saw Spain take on South Africa, and while I initially felt like I’d be in the cheering section for España, my heart was quickly stolen by South Africa! Thembi Kgatlana scored a BEAUTIFUL goal in the 25th minute, and South Africa kept their 1-0 lead for the entire first half. Unfortunately, Spain caught up with two penalties in the second half, and Lucia Garcia put the nail in the coffin with a goal scored in the 89th minute.
Norway went head-to-head with Nigeria in the final match of the day, and the Norwegians absolutely hammered the Nigerian squad with a final result of 3-0.
On Sunday, meanwhile, there was a bright ‘n early (by ET standards) battle between Italy and Australia. I have to admit I thought Australia would easily take the win, but the Italians were HUGELY impressive – tactically sound and highly organized, the team got away with a 2-1 win, the second goal coming in the final minute of overtime. It was HANDS DOWN the best/most exciting match I watched all weekend, and major shout-out to Barbara Bonansea, who scored both Italian goals and looks like she’s gonna be a fun one to watch. (AND shout-out to the goalkeeper, who was SO GOOD! Sam Kerr only got in there one time, and that was on a PK.) Is there still hope for Australia? Sure! But it’ll be a tough road ahead considering…
…the SECOND match from yesterday, in which Jamaica’s underdog squad took on a Marta-less Brazil! Marta sat on the bench due to injury, but the pitch looked just fine without her – Brazil came away with a 3-0 result thanks to a hat trick scored by Cristiane! At 34 years of age, homegirl is the oldest player to pull this off at a Women’s World Cup since Carli Lloyd did it at the last one. (Granted, there’s still time for someone else to take the crown, but good on ya, girl!) I felt bummed for Jamaica, but they should feel proud of themselves since they actually played a pretty solid game against a superpower like Brazil thanks in no small part to the impeccable performance of their 19-year-old goalkeeper Sydney Schneider, who prevented TONS of goals by the Brazilian squad.
And finally, England took on Scotland to stoke that good ol’ historic rivalry, and England came out on top with a 3-0 result. I was personally rooting for Scotland on principal, and because I love Rachel Corsie and Kim Little, but sometimes you just have to reconcile with the fact that England is strong AF. (And yes, I am v. concerned that they might win the whole shebang.)
So where does that leave us? Well, France and Norway are on top for Group A with 3 points each, while Nigeria and South Korea are on the bottom with 0 apiece. Group B, meanwhile, has Spain and Germany in the lead with 3 points each, and China and South Africa are on the bottom with 0. Group C is currently lead by England with 3 points and Scotland with nil at the bottom. Argentina will take on Japan at noon today, so we’ll have a better feel for how that group is shaping up later this afternoon.
Speaking of upcoming matches, the other one that’s happening today is Canada vs Camaroon at 3pm ET! Tomorrow we’ve got New Zealand vs Netherlands at 9am ET, Chile vs Sweden at noon ET and THE BIG ONE, aka USA vs Thailand at 3pm ET. (If you have to miss it because work, don’t worry // obviously anything can happen as a general rule, but I feel fairly confident this one won’t be the most suspenseful to watch.) Wednesday, meanwhile, Nigeria plays South Korea at 9am ET, Germany plays Spain at noon ET and France plays Norway at 3pm ET. Thursday we’ll see Australia vs Brazil at noon ET, and South Africa goes against China at 3pm ET // this should be a super interesting day, especially w/ Australia vs Brazil, so if you need to fake an appointment to get out of work and watch, I’d recommend then. Friday we’ve got Japan vs Scotland at 9am ET, Jamaica vs Italy at noon ET and England vs Argentina at 3pm ET to round out the week.
And now let’s finish things off by going to some of the interesting headlines!
- TL:DR, here’s the NY Times’ big ol’ breakdown of what you need to know at the start of this FIFA WWC.
- Hope Solo isn’t at this Women’s World Cup,but she’ll be damned if y’all forget about her! Here’s a story about how she said USWNT head coach Jill Ellis “cracks under pressure”.
- Echoing what I said earlier about VAR technology, people (myself included) are feeling feelings (mostly negative ones) when it comes to after-the-fact handball callouts.
- Here’s why Jamaica’s squad (the Reggae Girlz) are winning over everybody’s hearts as the underdog!
- This may be the Women’s World Cup, but here’s a story on how Meghan Klingenberg, Tobin Heath, Christen Press and Megan Rapinoe are trying to shift the focus to a more gender fluid space with their new company.
- And finally, this isn’t a “headline” so much as me redirecting you to BYT, but here are 18 openly queer players at the tournament I decided to wrangle up in honor of PRIDE MONTH!
Check back in on Friday for a recap of this week’s matches, as well as what you need to know going into the weekend!