With the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France just a week away, we take a look at the big names who are set to take centre stage, who’s in with a shot at making history and how our girls will fare when taking on the world’s best.
First things first, which City girls are gearing up for action in France?
- Lydia Williams – Australia
- Steph Catley (vc) – Australia
- Elise Kellond-Knight – Australia
- Tameka Yallop (nee Butt) – Australia
- Rebekah Stott – New Zealand
So, can we win this thing?!
The short answer is yes, we’ll give it a red-hot go. Matildas Head Coach Ante Milicic has selected a squad with a careful blend of youth and experience that, while not being over-confident nor arrogant, is capable of great success.
Speaking of experience, City shot-stopper Lydia Williams will be leading the way. At the age of just 31, the goalkeeper will enter her fourth FIFA Women’s World Cup! At the other end of the spectrum is 16-year-old Mary Fowler, who will be looking to express her attacking flare on the world’s greatest stage if given the opportunity to do so.
31-year-old Williams has been exceptional for both City and the Matildas throughout her career. You can read about her journey to her fourth major tournament here, but suffice to say, we’re in safe hands between the sticks with one of the best goalkeepers at the tournament.
Also leading from the back, will be City captain and Matildas vice-captain Steph Catley. Catley has been a standout name in the W-League, NWSL and Matildas set-up over recent seasons, instrumental in City’s three-peat championship achievement. Her relationship with Williams and former City defender Alanna Kennedy will offer surety at the back and give confidence to those around them.
There will be no lack of experience in defence, with central defender Claire Polkinghorne set for her fourth FIFA Women’s World Cup. Complementing Catley’s dominance on the left, will be youngster Ellie Carpenter in the right fullback position. The 19-year-old will be looking to utilise her attacking run out of defence, as she looks to influence each match at both ends of the field.
In the middle of the park, our very own Elise Kellond-Knight – who has thrived at her previous two World Cups – and Tameka Yallop will be looking to play important roles for the Matildas alongside Emily Van Egmond. Two of the most talented Australian’s, reunited after an impressive first season in City blue – they’ll be crucial in an area of the park where the game is often won and lost. Neither Tameka or KK is shy when in front of goal, both chipping in with eye-catching goals during their maiden W-League season at City.
There’s no doubt that both players will be looking to influence the scoreboard, and if there’s a free-kick around the opposition’s box you better be ready, because both KK and Kennedy are lethal from the dead ball.
Up front, Kyah Simon has missed out after suffering another injury setback. The team will undoubtable miss her experience and sharp-shooter instincts, but there is absolutely no doubt that the team is in very capable of hands. Alongside arguably the world’s best goal scorer, Matildas captain Sam Kerr, is in-form attacker Caitlin Foord. The duo have formed a formidable partnership over the years and will be looking to do the same as they both enter the competition in a rich vein of form.
Who else is a chance?
Reigning World Cup winners and three-time champions, the USA will head in to the tournament as favourites. After taking out the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup with a comfortable 5-2 win over Japan in Canada, many people are predicting that the star-studded US national team are set to do the same.
In saying that, home ground advantage is often crucial in global tournaments and hosts France have every chance to showcase their dominance, especially with stars Amandine Henry, Wendie Renard and Amel Majri. It won’t be easy though, they face a tough Group A, with opponents Norway, South Korea and Nigeria.
Other teams to look out for would be 2011 champions Japan, England and the ever-dangerous Brazil. The Netherlands are the competition’s dark horse, with the ability to take it out.
Furthermore, Germany has come out fighting ahead of the competition, launching its squad list in inspirational fashion – see here – and why not? They too are a potential winner and one of the most decorated teams of all time, with two World Cups and eight European Championships.
The Group Stage will be made up of 24 teams split into six groups of four. Competing in nine different cities, the top two teams in each of the six groups will advance to the knockout stage of the competition, alongside the four best third-placed teams.
The tournament will run between the 7 June and 7 July 2019.
— FIFA Women's World Cup (@FIFAWWC) December 8, 2018
Players to watch
As women’s football continues to grow, there’s no shortage of stars and role models to watch over. The Matildas have a star-studded line up that most of us are familiar with, but who are the players to look out for from across the globe?
Nikita Parris – England
Having burst on the scene at Man City, Parris has enjoyed a stunning campaign this season, recently bagging the Football Writers’ Association’s Women’s Footballer of the Year award after winning both women’s domestic cups this season.
Parris bagged 19 goals in the English Women’s Super League this season, taking her to the all-time leading scorer on 47. Her electric pace and prolific nature in front of goal are sure to have fans glued to the edge of their seats.
Wendie Renard – France
Lyon’s rock-at-the-back, Wendie Ricard is undoubtedly one of the best defenders in women’s football. She’s got pace to burn, strong in the air and in the tackle and knows where the goal is. She also has an uncanny knack for winning – 12 French Division 1 Fémenin titles not to mention a lazy six Champions League titles/
Renard has over 100 caps and has seen and done it all, all except lift the World Cup, that is. Her experience and the talent around her in the French side could change that.
Lindsay Horan – USA
Equally as potent in the midfield or up front, 24-year-old Lindsay Horan will be looking to make her mark in France. The American’s versatility will be invaluable to the favourites.
In 2018, Horan was named the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) most valuable player following a stellar season with Portland Thorns. She finished the season as Portland’s top goal scorer after playing an important role in the team reaching NWSL Championship final. Named on the Ballon d’Or shortlist, Horan’s achievements speak for themselves. There is no doubt that if the US go deep into the tournament next month, their star attacker will be an influential factor.
There is some incredible talent on show this World Cup and the race for the Golden Boot will be as competitive as ever. We’re tipping this to be a tournament of goals, with a record haul all-round. As for the Golden Boot winner, we’re sticking with the Green and Gold, and backing Sam Kerr.
As for the overall winners of the World Cup, there’s no reason why our Matildas can’t go all the way.
Follow us on social media to keep up to date with how our girls are tracking throughout the tournament in France.