2019 FIFA Women's World Cup: Group F Preview
The United States is hoping to shake off the devastating PK loss they suffered at the 2016 Rio Olympics. | Source: AP Photo

2019 FIFA Women's World Cup: Group F Preview

The United States women's national team searches for their fourth World Cup victory, but they will need to fight through Sweden in the group stage.

Aaron Bellamy

The 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup starts today with the opening match between host country France and Korea Republic. Group F is the final group in the tournament, but it has the highest ranked team in the world in it.

Meet the teams

United States: The USWNT is the reigning world champions after they beat Japan at the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada. Now, the United States are set to embark on their journey to a potential fourth World Cup victory. From top to bottom, the United States is widely regarded to be the best women's soccer team in the world. Any individual player on the squad would be a stand-out all-star on most teams, barring the top few. You've got the creative Tobin Heath, the eternal Becky Sauerbrunn, and the tough and bloodied Julie Ertz just to name a few, but all 23 players are pure class. The only question mark is how the defense will perform against quick-striking teams like France. The United States is more likely than not going to get nine points in the group stage, which would set them on a course to face off against either China PR or Spain in the Round of 16, and then France in the quarterfinals. That's an extremely tough route for the team, but if we're just considering the group stage, it should be a piece of cake. Yes, they're in the group with supposed "rivals" Sweden, but truthfully the Swedes are not to the same caliber as the USA. 

Sweden: Sweden has been on a slow downward trajectory for decades. The Scandinavian countries of Sweden and Norway were two of the best five teams in the world when women's international soccer really started taking shape, but both teams have seen the rest of the world building up strong programs around them. Sweden was far more fortunate in their World Cup draw than Norway, though, and it should be an easy task for them to cruise through the group stage even with the United States. Despite all of the rivalry fanfare between these two teams - Sweden and the United States have been in the same World Cup group five times - the competition has been one-sided. Of the 38 meetings between the United States and Sweden, Sweden has won 7 and the United States has won 20. Sweden has a solid core of very experienced players scattered throughout the team. The player with the highest expectations is probably Stina Blackstenius, but production could come from anywhere on the team. 

Chile: The team from Chile is making their first appearance at the World Cup in 2019, and they were drawn into a relatively favorable group. Realistically, for any team from Pot 4, there isn't much of a chance of beating a top team. Thus, it doesn't really matter to Chile that they were drawn with the United States and Sweden. The big thing for Chile is that they got drawn with Thailand, who is probably the weakest third pot team. If they are able to get a win and keep a decent goal differential, they might just be able to move on to the Round of 16. The biggest player for Chile is goalkeeper Christiane Endler who plays her club soccer for Paris Saint-Germain. Chile has not found success against fellow World Cup teams recently (or ever, really), but they are matched up with a similarly woeful team in Thailand. In late 2018, Chile shocked the world when they beat Australia in Australia, but they haven't won a game against a World Cup team in 2019.

Christiane Endler might be able to save her team to a spot in the knockout round. | Photo: Agencia Uno
Christiane Endler might be able to save her team to a spot in the knockout round. | Photo: Agencia Uno

Thailand: The Thai women's national team is making their second World Cup appearance, but they aren't currently in good form. The team has not won or drawn a match against any World Cup team in the last two years, and it's hard to see them changing that with the group they've been drawn into. There are certainly some quality players on the team and there are teams in the tournament that they would have the ability to beat, but they just didn't get a favorable draw. Even if they do manage to win the game against Chile, it's unlikely that their goal differential would be good enough to earn a spot in the knockout round.

Who is the favorite?

The United States is the prohibitive favorite. While they might have a 5%-10% chance of not winning the group outright, there is no chance that they wouldn't advance to the Round of 16.

Match you should watch

United States vs Sweden. June 20th. That's really the only match that has a major impact on the tournament, although Chile vs Thailand could decide whether one of those teams makes the knockout round.