It has been just over a week since the first kick-off in the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Auckland, New Zealand.
The opening game day, in which New Zealand played Norway and Australia played the Republic of Ireland, set the tournament into full swing.
Looking back at the first week, it feels like a new era for the way Women’s football is perceived. Record numbers have been registered for the World Cup left and right. More than 1.5 million tickets had already been sold for the 64 matches. About 117,000 fans watched the games on opening day at Eden Park in Auckland and Stadium Australia in Sydney.
The 75,784 fans in Sydney spectating the host nation’s victory over Ireland had the highest number of attendances at a FIFA Women’s World Cup game in 24 years. FIFA President Gianni Infantino points out the global audience the tournament has reached so far. 130 broadcasters show the games around the world.
The Cup is being played in 10 different venues across Australia and New Zealand. Europeans get to watch the games starting from the early hours of the morning to around noon or early afternoon for the later games.
So far, the group phase has been nerve-wracking in many matches. In just a few days of play, fans were treated to football highlights ranging from great goals to nations debuting in the World Cup.
Eight teams out of the 32 are playing in the tournament for the first time: Haiti, the Republic of Ireland, Morocco, Panama, the Philippines, Portugal, Vietnam, and Zambia.
First Week Highlights
Football giant, Germany played first-timer Morocco, beating them 6 – 0 in a game characterized by Germany’s team spirit and Morocco’s will to fight until the last minute. The team from Germany is among the favourites contenders for the title.
Another nation being held to a high standard is the United States, the current world champion. The team could set a new record by winning the World Cup for the third time in a row.
People also consider European Champion England as a favourite for the title. Olympic Winner of Tokyo 2021, Canada, however, got off to a bit of a rough start in the tournament. The team from North America tied with Nigeria in their first game.
Brazil is also among the nations to watch out for, eager to win the title for the first time. Especially for teammate Marta Vieira da Silva who is most likely playing her sixth and final World Cup. The whole team is working for Marta’s one last chance at World Cup glory. Brazil beat debutant Panama 4 – 0 in their first match on Monday.
Nigeria succeeded over host Australia 3 – 2 on Thursday, placing them at the top of Group B after two games.
Recap Group Phase A – H
Group A & B
Surprisingly, New Zealand won their first game against Norway 1 – 0, which led to an ecstatic state in the host country. In a turn of events the Philippines then beat New Zealand 1 – 0 in their match on Tuesday, giving them their first-ever World Cup victory.
For the last games in the group stage, New Zealand takes on Switzerland. Norway will play the Philippines on Sunday, which will decide who goes on into the Round of 16 out of Group A.
Group B, with second host Australia, was also able to take a 1 – 0 win home in their first game against Ireland. Canada and Nigeria tied in their first match. While Canada was able to beat Ireland in a game struck by own goals, Australia lost their game against Nigeria by 2 – 3.
Two teams out of each group will enter the knockout stage. Factually, Ireland’s loss against Canada means they will not be able to advance to the Round of 16. The other three teams are now fighting among themselves to secure a place in the next round.
Group C, D & E
Group C consists of Spain, Zambia, Japan, and Costa Rica. The respective first matches clearly presented a trend in strong performances, with Spain succeeding 3 – 0 over Costa Rica and Japan beating Zambia with 5 goals. Both nations also clearly won their second matches sending them straight into the next round defeating Zambia and Costa Rica.
In Group D, England beat Haiti 1 – 0, while Denmark won 1 – 0 against China. All four teams will have another go to collect points on Friday, June 28 with England facing Denmark and Haiti playing China.
The United States triumphed over Vietnam in their first match with a 3 – 0 win and the Netherlands won 1 – 0 against Portugal. On Thursday, June 27 all teams in Group E played their second matches. The US and the Netherlands tied 1 – 1, putting them in place one and two in the group, while Portugal beat Vietnam 2 – 0.
Therefore, Vietnam has already missed its chance to enter the Round of 16. Title contenders the US and 2017 European Champions The Netherlands have good chances to advance to the knock-out stage, as long as they do not lose in their upcoming matches.
Group F, G & H
While France and Jamaica tied without goals in their first match on Sunday, Brazil played Panama and won 4 – 0. The teams in Group F have another two games each in the group stage before moving on to the Round of 16, which starts on Saturday, August 5.
Sweden beat South Africa 2 – 1 and Italy succeeded 1 – 0 over Argentina. This put them in the top two spots for now. Group G’s next matches are scheduled for Thursday, June 28, where teams will work towards entering the Round of 16.
As many expected, Germany beat underdog Morocco in their first match, leaving the stadium with a 6 – 0 win. The second match in Group H finished 2 – 0 for Colombia beating their opponent South Korea. Group H’s next games are scheduled for Sunday, June 30.
The group stage goes on until late next week, with the final game on Thursday, August 3.
The first match of the Round of 16 will be played on Saturday, August 5.
The Final of the Women’s World Cup will be played on Sunday, August 20 in Sydney.
You can find the BBC’s schedule for live broadcasts of the tournament here.
Feature Image Credit: National Literacy Trust