Women’s World Cup: Highlights from the Third Round of Matches

The third and last round of the group stage had a few nail-biters: Spain vs Korea Republic, Canada vs Netherlands, Australia vs Sweden. The WWC has given us a little bit of everything in terms of quality and style, however Germany and Japan have – by far – been real standouts. Their respective programs are phenomenal and you can see the results of that on the pitch.

Consistent and substantial funding is truly the primary way to get a nation’s senior women’s team on par with countries who have been at the forefront of the game for decades. Canada’s historically inconsistent showing is about a lack of proper funding and poor leadership on the part of the CSA (Canadian Soccer Association). Right now there is a real push from the CAN WNT team to catch-up with leaders in the sport, although this should have happened a decade ago.

Which is what Ecuador’s WNT coach Vanessa Arauz would like to see in her home country. Arauz is working miracles with her team, a group that had a very slim chance of qualifying for the 2015 WWC not because of a lack in talent, in fact its about poor funding and slim opportunities for girls and women to play in Ecuador. [Read more about Arauz at Vice Sports].

Have you ever wondered how much teams are awarded for participating in the WWC? TSN breaks is down for you: Cash incentive as Canada advances at World Cup. The 2015 WWC winner gets $2 million – the MWC winner, Germany, received $35 million in 2014. Quite the discrepancy huh?

Pictures*** from Ottawa matches played on June 17th are below.
[Match 1: France vs Mexico & Match 2: Korea Republic vs Spain]

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***All pictures © Cristina Murano

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Women’s World Cup: Highlights from the Second Round of Matches

Here’s where things stand at the end of the second round of group matches: WWC Groups & Standings. As you can see across all groups, teams are quite close in points, which means that the third round of group stage matches will a: be the difference between advancing and getting eliminated & b: provide outstanding soccer from some key countries.

Tonight’s Netherlands vs Canada game, for instance, is a really big deal. The Canadian WNT hasn’t clinched a spot in the Round of 16 – if they lose and China wins their game than Canada drops to 3rd place in Group A. At that point, their fate depends on how all other groups shake down as only 4 out of the 6 3rd place teams advance. Make sense?

On my way back from Ottawa on Thursday night, I listened to this incredible podcast by BBC World Service: The Future of Women’s Football. It chronicles the development of women’s soccer throughout the world, the impact of sexism and underfunding on up and coming players, and the dedication and perseverance of women at the elite level who are continuing to push the boundaries.

Pictures*** from Ottawa matches played on June 11th are below.
[Match 1: Germany vs Norway & Match 2: Thailand vs Cote d’Ivoire]

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***All pictures © Cristina Murano

Women’s World Cup: Highlights from the First Round of Matches

On top of volunteering for FIFA in the host city of Ottawa, I also have a Stadium Pass to all of the Ottawa matches + tickets to the Gold Medal game! I have basically handed my life over to the Women’s World Cup (WWC) for the next two months, but as a Canadian who loves soccer, this is once-in-a-lifetime stuff. This is also the first time that the WWC has hosted 24 teams, so fans are seeing 8 tournament newbies, some of which are bound to surprise people.

After the first round of play, there are differences in team chemistry, depth and skill level that have emerged. Germany being ranked No.1 is absolutely on the mark, as is U.S.A. being ranked No.2, and France’s No.3 ranking. These are the teams to watch as we head into the elimination rounds. However, all of the middle teams (and here I am thinking Canada, Sweden, Nigeria, Netherlands, Colombia, and Spain) will undoubtedly cause upsets. Japan and Brazil are my two question-marks as the former has been performing below expectations, and the latter tends to self-destruct during crucial matches…I am hoping they will surprise me!

What really interests me is how the infrastructure and funding for women’s soccer is reflected in the matches between countries. Cote d’Ivoire’s thrashing at the feet of the Germans has a little bit to do with playing the best team in the world, and a lot to do with their lack of preparation for the WWC because of poor funding and their newness to the game at this elite level (to read more, see Globe and Mail). Going into the second round of matches, I am curious if Canada will take control and dominate against New Zealand, if Sweden (coached by Pia Sundhage who is the former head coach of the U.S.A) will cause an upset and beat the U.S.A. like they have in the past, and if Colombia can continue their offensive energy when they take on France. We shall see.

Pictures*** from Ottawa matches played on June 7th are below, enjoy!
[Match 1: Thailand vs Norway & Match 2: Germany vs Cote d’Ivoire]

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***All pictures © Cristina Murano