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Women’s World Cup 2019: Group D preview

Argentina’s fought hard to get here, but can they get out of group?

Panama v Argentina - Women’s World Cup Qualifier Play Off Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images

There are a lot of stories in this group - of course an old rivalry that goes beyond sports in England and Scotland, but also the determination and fight of Argentina and the question of one-time champion Japan and their transitioning roster.

SCHEDULE

June 9
England vs Scotland, 12 PM ET

June 10
Argentina vs Japan, 12 PM ET

June 14
Japan vs Scotland, 9 AM ET
England vs Argentina, 3 PM ET

June 19
Japan vs England, 3 PM ET
Scotland vs Argentina, 3 PM ET

England

Rank: 3

Recent record: Don’t let that ranking fool you. England are good - on their best days they’re very good indeed - but they’re also capable of brain fart days, like their most recent result losing 0-1 to New Zealand. They took down Denmark and Spain, lost 1-0 to Canada in April, but had a fairly cracking SheBelieves in the United States when they beat both Japan and Brazil and held the US to a 2-2- tie.

Odds of winning: Favorite/In the Running/Dark Horse

One to watch: Nikita Parris could leave this tourno with some nice moments for her highlight reel. She’s a pacey wide forward with a nice touch on the ball and real goalscoring acumen.

Scotland

Rank: 20

Recent record: Scotland just had a banger of a game against Jamaica, narrowly winning 3-2. They recently beat Brazil 1-0 and tied Chile 1-1. They’ve got the talent to beat mediocre teams but could have some trouble breaking down organized defenses.

Odds of winning: Favorite/In the Running/Dark Horse

One to watch: Kim Little is the quiet genius Scotland will be relying on to pull a lot of their strings in the midfield. Here’s a nice example of Little picking up the ball in midfield, organizing everyone around her to get up, then completing her run to finish things off herself in the box.

Argentina

Rank: 37

Recent record: They recently beat Uruguay 3-1 in May but their last game was a friendly against University of Long Beach, which was a 2-1 win. If you think it’s weird a national team is playing against a random D-I team instead of warming up for the World Cup against other national teams, that’s just part of the pattern of Argentina’s women having to fight for support from their federation. They’re making progress, though, and a good showing in France would demonstrate that even a little investment could have a big payoff.

Odds of winning: Favorite/In the Running/Dark Horse

One to watch: Estefania Banini is a savvy attacking midfielder who can drag a lot of attention across the field with her and arrive late in the box to clean up any loose balls, as well as someone who can drift a little wider if necessary. She has a pretty good shot from outside the 18 too.

Japan

Rank: 7

Recent record: It’s been a mixed bag for the Nadeshiko as older players are starting to phase out of the national team. This will be their first World Cup in a long time without queen/midfielder of your dreams Homare Sawa. Japan lost to England at SheBelieves, but has managed ties against top-ranked opponents including the US and Germany. At the same time, Japan took a 3-1 loss to France in April. They’ve got talent and experience, but they haven’t put it all together yet in this transitory period.

Odds of winning: Favorite/In the Running/Dark Horse

One to watch: Young Jun Endo was a standout at the U-20 level. She’s calm under pressure, which combined with her technical skills, makes for some lovely balls dropped into the box as well as nice looks on goal instead of panic-shots over. Her relative inexperience may count against her; it’s very different playing against your peers, then suddenly coming up against someone like Wendie Renard, who has told many a player to sit down and be quiet.


Who have you got topping group? What’s the most exciting game happening here - an old rivalry vs England and Scotland, or a rematch between England and Japan? Will Argentina be able to put on a good show and possibly earn enough points to sneak out of this group?