Friday 20 September 2019

Lionesses look the pick of the remaining pack as last 16 looms

With the group stages over, Kristofer McCormack ranks the remaining 16 teams at the Women's World Cup

England's Steph Houghton, Karen Bardsley, Millie Bright and Rachel Daly. Photo: Eric Gaillard/Reuters
England's Steph Houghton, Karen Bardsley, Millie Bright and Rachel Daly. Photo: Eric Gaillard/Reuters

Kristofer McCormack

1. England

England emerged from the group of death with relative ease, winning all their matches. Form, depth and a desirable path to the semi-finals make the Lionesses one of the favourites for ultimate glory.

2. United States

The holders breezed past their group and have been rewarded with a tricky match against Spain to precede a likely quarter against France. Should they past those tests, there's no reason America can't retain the title.

3. France

The hosts have the talent to go all the way, but are yet to be properly challenged. Tomorrow's clash against Brazil provides a chance to prove their early credentials.

4. Germany

The Germans have been unbeatable in the group stages recently, but will need to carry that form into the knockouts with bigger tests lying in wait should they beat Nigeria this afternoon.

5. Netherlands

The European champions have showed they have championship pedigree, but need to find consistency if they wish to win the World Cup. Japan will prove a good test for them on Tuesday.

6. Australia

Australia backed up their dark-horse tag in the group stages. Another performance like their win over Brazil will be needed to get past Norway and any side after that beyond the Scandinavians.

7. Italy

Italy were unlucky not to emerge with maximum points from their group and could cause some upsets should they get past a beatable China outfit on Tuesday.

8. Norway

Missing their best player, Norway have shown so far that they are more than the sum of their parts and are still a dangerous prospect in the knockouts.

9. Canada

Canada resemble Sweden in many ways. They faltered in their biggest group game and lack a lethal edge offensively. The form of Christine Sinclair will be vital to their hopes.

10. Sweden

Where Canada possess star forward Sinclair, Sweden have bags of experience and talent of their own to challenge this summer.

11. Brazil

Brazil relied on the magic of Marta to edge it into the knockout rounds and will need her even more so if they plan on winning the World Cup.

12. Japan

Japan's young squad haven't looked like title-winners so far and will need to find form from somewhere if they wish to recapture the world crown which they won in 2011.

13. Spain

It's been a fine debut World Cup for the Spanish, but a knockout match against the current champions puts a massive dent in any upset chances for La Roja.

14. China

China have certainly demonstrated grit in getting to the knockout stages, but are going to need a series of miraculous upsets to mount a challenge.

16. Nigeria

Nigeria are one of the World Cup's worst sides historically and will need to flip the history book to get the better of Germany, let alone win the big prize.

16. Cameroon

Cameroon were extremely lucky to even get out of their group with New Zealand easily the more promising side. They will need some more luck if they want to shock England.

Irish Independent

The Left Wing: Ireland's fullback dilemma, World Cup bonding and the squad standby list

Also in Sport