We have covered the first two groups of the World Cup, and now we move on to Group C.
This group features the reigning, defending World Cup champions – Japan. The Japanese stunned many with their impressive run toward the title. After finishing second in their group they were matched with Germany in the quarter-finals. After that 1-0 victory they went on to defeat Sweden before the finals against the United States.
Now, they return to defend the title.
Can anyone challenge them in this group? Lets break it down.
FIFA Ranking: 53
Cameroom will make their first trip to the World Cup in Canada. They made the World Cup by being in the African Women’s Championship finals, but were unable to capture the title from Nigeria.
This is a more defensive team than offensive, and they will play to their strengths. Unfortunately, this won’t matter much against the elites such as Japan. They will be so far out of their depth in that matchup they’ll get blown out.
However, they could compete against Ecuador for the ever-important three points. That looms large, and it is the first match of the group.
Cameroon has some talent that has played on international clubs, but they do not have those premiere stars that can lead them to huge upset wins.
FIFA Ranking: 48
Ecuador upset their way into their first World Cup. Did they over-perform, or were they undervalued? We will find out in the group stage.
The Ecuadorians are led by their 26-year-old head coach, Vanesa Arauz. And she will field a young roster with an average age of just shy of 24.
Much like Cameroon, Ecuador will be out of their depth against the likes of Japan and Switzerland. It only leaves the Cameroon match for their opportunity to get points. This isn’t a strong football club, but as with many of the first-timers they can use this experience to continue to develop as the women’s game grows.
FIFA Ranking: 4
Japan should have little issue taking this group. The reigning champs are one of the favorites in this World Cup, but they are definitely not the favorites.
Japan steps up when they get the spotlight. They traveled to Canada last year for a two-match friendly where they beat the host nation twice. They struggled a bit in the Algarve Cup, but do not put too much stock into that showing.
They have competed in every World Cup, and Homare Sawa is back for her sixth Cup. An astonishing accomplishment.
Along with Sawa, featured names like Aya Miyama are back for another run. There is a lot of talent on this roster, but it is their technique that truly shines. They are unselfish, precise, and have excellent gameplans.
FIFA Ranking: 19
Ramona Bachmann and Lara Dickenmann lead the Swiss into Canada. The forwards are Switzerland’s top stars, and have significant experience internationally at the club level. They will help them to advance thanks in part to a favorable group.
This will be Switzerland’s first appearance at the World Cup. That is a little surprising, and one of the reasons the expanded field is a good thing for the sport. To see them break through to earn a spot is great.
The opening match against Japan will tell us a lot about where the Swiss are with their squad. They have the offensive talent to compete, but are they well-rounded enough to last a full-90? Regardless of the outcome in that match, the Swiss are in good position to advance.
The opening games for this group are the most important. Switzerland and Japan should win their remaining games to claim the top two spots. The opening matches will determine who tops the group, and if they can get a third-place team through.
I have Cameroon taking the match against Ecuador, and those three points will see them advance to the knockout rounds. There they will get destroyed by a group winner, but just advancing will be a big win for the nation.
Japan and Switzerland will draw. Eventually, Japan takes the group win by tie-breakers.
Group C sends three through with the champs topping the group.