Group B features two newcomers, and two of the World Cup mainstays.
The #1 ranked German national team is without question one of the favorites entering the 2015 Cup. But is there anyone else that can contend? Will one of the new kids on the block be able to advance? There is still a lot of intrigue with this group.
Lets jump right in. This is your look at Group B.
FIFA Ranking: 1
The #1 ranked team in the world makes its seventh appearance in the tournament, and are seeking their third star.
There really isn’t much to say about Germany that hasn’t already been said. They are the cream of the crop in women’s football today alongside the United States. Athletic, big, physical, and fast. They will run through this group with relative ease.
The list of quality players to watch is too long to list, but we’d be remissed not to at least mention FIFA World Player of the Year Nadine Angerer. Silvia Neid’s squad is tough as nails, and poised to contend for the trophy.
FIFA Ranking: 67
This is the Ivory Coast’s first World Cup. The enter by winning a third-place match against South Africa.
They bring in a young roster of women, and that’s a good thing. Canada will be a place where they can gain true experience on the largest stage to set up a brighter future. The average age on this roster is just over 24-years-old.
Advancing out of the group stage will be difficult. They lack a star player, and are stuck in a group with Germany and Norway. If they can somehow manage a victory against Thailand perhaps they have a chance.
FIFA Ranking: 11
Norway has appeared in every Women’s World Cup to date. They were once the class of the sport capturing the trophy in 1995, but times have changed. The Norweigens are a step behind the likes of Germany and the United States.
With that said, they are not in danger of missing the knockout rounds. They have solid veteran leadership, but it is the youngsters that make Norway exciting.
The star of this team is 19-year-old Ada Hegerberg. She has already tallied 14 career international goals.
Emilie Haavi made her World Cup debut at 18 years of age in 2011, and she shined. She has kind of plateaued a bit since, but remains one of the bright spots of Norway’s future. If she can rise to the occasion again this time around they may be able to upset their way into the latter stages of the tournament.
FIFA Ranking: 29
Thailand is another of the newcomers to the World Cup. They qualified by finishing fifth at the AFC Women’s Asian Cup.
25-year-old Nisa Romyen is their leading scorer. If she is on form they may be able to breakthrough, but if she is not then Thailand may take a beating.
This group does have some international experience at the club level, and that will be crucial to their success in Canada. The Thailand vs. Ivory Coast match will be an underrated match to watch in this World Cup as the winner, if there is one, could advance through.
There is no surprise I have Germany and Norway advancing through.
Germany will collect all nine points, and Norway will walk through with six. This is an easy prediction, and it would be one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history if these two do not finish in the top two slots.
Now for the fun prediction.
I have the Ivory Coast advancing as a third-place finisher.
Call it a hunch, or call it a shot in the dark. Either is fine. I think the Ivory Coast can defeat Thailand to earn three points, and that will be enough to slide into the knockout round. The Ivory Coast vs. Thailand match will be so interesting to watch because of the expanded field. I truly do think a mere three points advances into the knockout rounds.
Three of the four from Group B play on.