The 2020 Olympics begin next week, and we begin to take a look at the 3 groups of teams in women’s soccer that will compete for the gold, silver, and bronze medals in Tokyo. Unlike the men’s soccer competition, the Olympics is a FIFA-sanctioned event on the women’s side. FIFA has instituted a new rule for this tournament that will certainly help all teams during this grueling 2-week tournament.
Originally, Olympic rosters were capped at 18 players, with 4 players traveling as alternates and could be added to the roster only as an injury replacement. Recently, that rule was changed, and FIFA confirmed that Olympic soccer rosters for this tournament will be 22 players, with coaches still having a matchday roster of 18. Still, it means all 22 can be available for selection on any given matchday.
Since the football tournament at the Olympics have continguous group names, the three groups in the women’s tournament are Groups E, F, and G. We begin with Group E, which can be a difficult group. Japan, Great Britain, Canada, and Chile will fight to be the teams that advance to the knockout stage. Even 3rd place has a chance of moving on, so each match will be hotly contested. Let’s take a look at the teams in Group E and their chances of being the best in the class.
Wednesday, July 21
Great Britain vs. Chile
Japan vs. Canada
Saturday, July 24
Chile vs. Canada
Japan vs. Great Britain
Tuesday, July 27
Chile vs. Japan
Canada vs. Great Britain
Serving as hosts of the Olympics, Japan is looking to be the team that’s standing and hearing their national anthem played for their home country. They want to show they can beat the best in the world, and they’ve been preparing with matches on their home soil to get ready for this tournament. They have a much younger squad, with the oldest player being 30-year-old Emi Nakajima, and despite some of the inexperience, Japan thinks they have a team that can compete with the best in the world.
FIFA Rank/Elo Rating: 10/12
Recent Record: Japan is undefeated in 2021, only allowing 1 goal in 5 matches while scoring 28. They most recently beat Australia in a tune-up match for the Olympics
Odds of Winning Group: In The Running
One to Watch: Forward Mana Iwabuchi could be one to provide a lot of the scoring for Japan. She’s already scored 6 international goals in 2021 and has 35 in 77 total appearances.
Canada has a core group of players who is going for what could be their last run at a gold medal. They’re always one of the strongest teams in any tournament, but they are ready to let the world know that they think they are the team to beat in Tokyo.
FIFA Rank/Elo Rating: 8/8
Recent Record: Canada has a 3-2-2 record in 2021, with their losses coming to the USWNT and Brazil during the SheBelieves Cup. They most recently drew the Czech Republic and Brazil in friendlies last month.
Odds of Winning: In The Running
One to Watch: It is likely that this will be the last Olympic run for Christine Sinclair. The most prolific scorer in international soccer history will try to carry the Canadians all the way.
For just the second time ever, Great Britain is putting a women’s soccer team in the Olympics. They qualified as a result of England being one of the top 3 European finishers at the 2019 Women’s World Cup. However, this team will not just be the England squad, though the English do make up most of the roster. 1 Welsh (Sophie Ingle) and 2 Scottish players (Kim Little, Caroline Weir) join the 19 English players on the unified team. They’re looking to be the class of this group and of the entire field.
FIFA Rank/Elo Rating: 6/5 (as England)
Recent Record: While a recently scheduled friendly against Zambia was postponed, Great Britain did manage a 3-0 victory over New Zealand earlier this week in preparation for the Olympics.
Odds of Winning: Favorite
Chile is a team that many may think is the one that the other three teams in the group will defeat easily, but Chile is a tough team that can hold their own with anyone. Winning the group would be a shock, but getting out of the group is a strong possibility for them if they can string together a couple of victories or draws against the top teams.
FIFA Rank/Elo Rating: 37/30
Recent Record: Chile qualified for the Olympics by beating Cameroon in a two-legged playoff, but have had some shaky tune ups for the Olympics. They drew Germany most recently.
Odds of Winning: One Can Dream
One to Watch: Goalkeeper Christiane Endler is one of the best in the world, and with her between the posts, Chile is always in every match.
Who will advance from Group E? What matches are most interesting to you? Let us know in the comments.