Group C of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup starts on June 9 at 7:00 AM EST when Australia takes on Italy in Valenciennes. Brazil and Jamaica kickoff their tournament on June 9 at 9:30 AM EST in Grenoble. Here is a breakdown of the group’s important players and matchups to watch.
Teams of Group C
Australia: The sixth ranked team in the Women’s World Cup have come into the tournament on a bit of a losing streak. The losing streak began against the United States Women’s National Team in April, then a loss to the Netherlands on June 1. Australia gave up 3 or more goals in both matches. Vice-captain and defender Steph Catley is recently coming back from a calf injury and should not take her long to get back into form. Center backs Alanna Kennedy and Clare Polkinghorne will to be relied on heavily as this will be 19 year old Ellie Carpenter’s first Women’s World Cup. Despite the recent defensive struggles, Australia still have Sam Kerr and are expected to finish atop the group. The Westfield Matildas captain can take over a game at anytime. As long as Kerr along with veteran Lisa de Vanna, Caitlin Foord, Hayley Raso and Emily Gielnik can put the ball in the net, Australia will have no trouble winning the group and moving onto the knockout stage.
Italy: The European team of the group will make their return to the Women’s World Cup since 1999. Italy qualified for the tournament by rolling through their qualifying group with a 7-0-1 record. The only loss coming in the final match when Italy already clinched the World Cup birth. Italy have kept their winning ways going with a runner-up finish at the 2019 Cyprus Cup, losing in the final to North Korea on penalties. Then winning two of three friendlies beating Republic of Ireland, Switzerland and drawing Poland. Be on the lookout for midfielder Barbara Bonansea and forward Cristina Girelli as Italy can take advantage of some questionable defenses in Group C. It is very possible for Italy to make it out of this group in second or qualify as a top four third place finisher.
Brazil: The top South American squad is on a losing streak of their own. The last victory for Brazil came in July during the 2018 Tournament of Nations against Japan. After winning the 2018 Copa América Femenina, Brazil have lost 10 of their last 11 matches, losing nine in row coming into the tournament. While defense has been the weak point of Brazil, the injury bug has reared its way to the Brazilian roster. Erika, Luana and superstar Marta have picked up injuries while defender Fabiana was recently ruled out so defender Poliana was called up as a replacement. With injuries, team depth comes into question about the Brazilian roster. Marta is still a high quality player despite her left thigh injury as she is capable of causing opposing defenses problems. Paired with Marta, Formiga who is appearing in her seventh Women’s World Cup, can still be a force in the midfield. It will be interesting to see if Brazil can finish in the second spot or will Italy knock them to third place finish.
Jamaica: The 'Reggae Girlz' are making their first appearance in the Women’s World Cup. The debutants qualified by winning on penalties against Panama at the 2018 CONCACAF Women’s Championship. Jamaica has gone 3-1-1 in their five friendlies this calendar year beating Chile twice, drawing against South Africa and losing to Scotland. Khadija “Bunny” Shaw will put the world on notice as a dangerous speedy striker. Do not be shocked if Shaw gets on the scoreboard multiple times this tournament. Attacking player like Cheyna Matthews and backline up and comer star Konya Plummer may turn some heads on the world stage. It is a good chance Jamaica do not make it out of the group but look for them to surprise with some magic of their own.
Match to Watch
Australia and Brazil will renew their rivalry on June 13 in Montpellier at 12 PM EST. The two teams have met at least once since 2014 with Australia winning four of the last five matchups. These two squads can not avoid each other on major tournaments and are always physical. Australia knocked out Brazil in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup and Brazil eliminated Australia on penalties in the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Australia defense will play well enough for the offense to put some goals on the scoreboard to win the group. Italy and Brazil will fight for the second spot on the third match day with Italy finishing second, leaving Brazil third and Jamaica fourth. Jamaica is just not experienced enough internationally but will score some goals if opponents are not at the top of their game.