The draw for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup produced a mixed bag of results for South American sides, with traditional continental power Brazil no doubt pleased with their draw, while Argentina and World Cup debutants Chile will have an uphill battle if they’re to make a run to the knockout rounds.
Let’s take a look at the draw for South America’s three World Cup participants:
Brazil: Group C alongside Australia, Italy, and Jamaica:
The most dominant side in South America will be quite happy with their draw, one that should put them in position to advance to the knockout rounds for a sixth straight tournament.
Australia, one of the tournament favourites, headline the group. Brazil breezed through the group stage in 2015, winning all three matches without conceding a goal, but fell to the Matildas in the Round of 16.
Though Sam Kerr and the Aussies should trouble the Brazilians, it’s the other two teams in the group that give Brazil hope.
Italy are the second weakest European side by FIFA ranking, and will be appearing at their first World Cup since 1999. The Italians will test Brazil, but as far as European teams are concerned, this is about as good as the Brazilians could have hoped for.
Jamaica meanwhile are quite possibly the weakest team in the tournament. Though their overall athleticism could trouble Brazil, meeting Jamaica in the first match of the group stage should give Brazil an advantage over the inexperienced Jamaicans.
Looking ahead, if Brazil manage to win the group they’d face a 3rd place team from either Group A, B or F in the Round of 16.
A 2nd place finish for Brazil would match them with the 2nd place finisher from Group A, most likely Norway, but also very possibly the host country France or a tricky Nigeria side. Win that, and either England or Japan most likely await in the Quarterfinals.
Argentina: Group D alongside England, Scotland and Japan:
Coming out of pot 4, the draw was always going to be unkind for an Argentina side making their first World Cup appearance since 2007. While the teams in Group D will trouble Argentina, it’s the order of the matches that may prove to be the most difficult obstacle for the Argentines.
Argentina open their World Cup against a Japan side that made the last two finals, before facing group headliners England in Le Havre. Argentina’s best chance to win, against World Cup debutants Scotland, doesn’t come until their final group stage match.
With four 3rd place teams advancing to the Round of 16, that Scotland match most likely becomes a must win one for Argentina. If they can scrap out a point against Japan or England, then Argentina could face a win & in situation on the final day.
An advancement for the Argentines after finishing in third would pit them against either the winners of Group B (where Germany is favoured) or a meeting with the winners of Group A (most likely France).
If they can manage to sneak out 2nd place, then the winner of Group E, Canada or the Netherlands in all likelihood, would challenge the Argentines.
Chile: Group F alongside United States, Sweden and Thailand:
Much like the Argentines, pot 4 was always projected to be unkind for Chile, but the Chileans got a bit of a break by pulling Thailand from pot 3. That said, matches against Sweden and the defending champions will be a tall order for the debutants.
Chile need to rely heavily on goalkeeper Christiane Endler if they’re to snatch a result against either Sweden or the United States. Sweden probably represents the best chance of Chile pulling off an upset, but it will be critical for Chile to stay disciplined against the tactical Swedes.
The United States defeated Chile twice by an aggregate of 7-0 in two friendlies earlier in 2018. The task for Chile against the Americans won’t necessarily be to win, but to keep their goal differential down.
With four 3rd place teams getting a spot in the Round of 16, goal differential could be the decisive factor. The difference between a 5-0 loss and a 2-0 loss for Chile could be the difference between advancing and elimination.
Thailand are unquestionably the weakest team from pot 3, and Chile were fortunate to end up in a group with them. Though the Thais pushed Australia to penalties during Asian qualification, they’ve lost their last 6 matches. Any viable path to the knockout round for Chile involves a win over Thailand in the final group stage match.
If Chile do advance as a third place team, they’d face the winner of either Group C or Group D a collection of teams that includes Australia and England, along with a technical Japan side. While a potential matchup with the Aussies looks difficult on paper, Chile did upset Australia in a recent friendly.
If Chile manage to beat out the Swedes and Thailand for a shock second place finish, a difficult matchup against the second place team from Group E would await.