Group E is a well-rounded group that plays out perfectly to send a third nation through to the knockout rounds.
The group features two top-15 ranked squads, and one more in the top 20. Brazil is clearly the big fish in this pond, but they will have some interesting match-ups throughout group play. It won’t be an easy three games. Everyone in this group has a shot at advancing through.
This is your preview into Group E.
FIFA Ranking: 7
Brazil is back again. They have never failed to qualify.
They are led by one of the greatest players to ever step on the pitch, Marta. And her veteran squad is back again – Cristiane, Formiga, Rosana, Erika, and Fabiana. They are an exciting team to watch play for what they can do offensively, and they have been trying to make the improvements to capture their first-ever Women’s World Cup.
They hold a recent wins over the USWNT and Sweden, and have only lost to Germany thus far in their friendlies leading into the Cup.
They are a contender to win it all, but their odds are not as good as the top two in the world. They have some clear issues defensively. That is an issue against high-powered offenses like that of Germany and the United States.
FIFA Ranking: 37
There are a couple veteran leaders on this team, but all eyes will be on 15-year-old Gloriana Villalobos. Yes, 15.
This will be Costa Rica’s first time at the senior World Cup, but they did host the U-17 World Cup in 2014. Villalobos benefitted from the experience, as did the entire nation of Costa Rica. Do not count them out based on youth and inexperience alone.
This squad has the raw talent to steal a few points away. It is possible they end up in a position to advance. Unlikely, but possible. With an average age of just over 23-years-old, it will be fun to watch the youngsters get experience and continue to grow this sport across the globe.
FIFA Ranking: 18
South Korea has made their return to the World Cup. Their last time was in 2003.
The Koreans can score, but lack the size, strength, and depth to give the elites a stiff test. One of their final tune-ups for the World Cup will come against the United States. That performance will show most where they stand in the hierarchy.
If anyone leaves an opening, this team will find the back of the net. That much is certain. They are not to be taken lightly. In Group E they match-up well with Spain, and should have an advantage over Costa Rica. They will have their opportunities to advance.
FIFA Ranking: 14
Veronica Boquete leads the Spanish national team into Canada. The 2014 FIFA Player of the Year finalist has helped Spain qualify for their first Women’s World Cup. Once again highlighting the need for this year’s expanded field.
Spain’s roster has plenty of club-level experience, but the national team does not have too much experience against great competition. The two notable teams they have payed friendlies against have been Norway and New Zealand. They didn’t get a win in any of the matches.
Even still, the talent is there to perform well. Expect them to get through. That will be their goal.
It should be no surprise I have Brazil taking all nine points available to them. Spain and South Korea can compete in short bursts, but not over 90-minutes. Marta and company will exploit them multiple times.
Unfortunately, Costa Rica will suffer three defeats and find their way back home. It’ll be a learning experience.
That leaves South Korea and Spain. Do I have both advancing? Yes. I think they will draw against one another putting them in a tie. Spain will get the nod on tie-breakers to finish second, but four points will be enough for South Korea to comfortably sit as the best third-place finisher.