As we step boldly into Day 30 of Edge of the Crowd's electrifying 70-day countdown to the FIFA Women’s World Cup, anticipation is at a fever pitch.
Now, it's time to dive headlong into the gritty, thrilling details of each group. Prepare to be enchanted by tactful manoeuvres and enchanted by top-tier athletes. Each group promises a dramatic blend of the supreme contenders and the underdogs with nothing to lose.
From group to group, we're dissecting the exciting prospects, finishing with Group G and Group H.
Group G sees two mainstays of the women's world football scene clash in a very impressive group featuring Italy and Sweden. Those two nations are of course joined by the reigning African champions South Africa, who could prove to be a wildcard in what may be the most exciting group in the competition.
Italy head into the Women's World Cup with the most to prove out of the established teams in the group. Two quarter-final appearances are the peak that the Italian women's football team have hit and considering the Italian league is fast becoming one of the highest quality, you'd expect these results to pick up sooner rather than later. Patchy form and a hungry group may mean that this year is not the one that starts the rise of Italian women's football but there's every possibility that they could take the top spot if Sweden is not on its game.
Captivating South American teams always bring an X-factor to these types of tournaments, and perhaps no other team is more captivating than Argentina. La Albiceleste comes into the tournament with some of the best early-year form and will be looking to make their first foray into the knockout stages. Very reliant on its stars, fitness will be the key in the tournament for Argentina but beating the odds and getting points against Italy and/or Sweden could well prove to be too much of an ask.
The strongest team in this group and perhaps in the whole tournament is Sweden. Blågult is one of the top three ranked teams in the world and they have stars upon stars across their line-up. With some of the most talented players in the world, and presumably the top spot in the group, the sky is the limit for this Swedish team featuring elite players entering the prime of their careers. The talent and quality of the side are so impressive that it won't be a question of if they can win the tournament, the question will be if they will.
And last but certainly not least for the group to watch, South Africa. Banyana Banyana has a spirit like no other in their camp coming off their CAF Women's Africa Cup of Nations win. Perhaps one of the weaker teams in the group, South Africa is a dark horse who could end up making the knockout stages if the team steal a result off of Italy. In only the nation's second appearance on the world stage, South Africa is poised to make a big impression, regardless of the result.
PREDICTED GROUP G STANDINGS
South Africa 3pts
Group H has great variety, with a team from a different continent in each of the four spots. This group features Germany, Morocco, Colombia and South Korea. While it is likely that the two-time Champions sees itself in the knockout stages, Columbia will be fiercely battling for the second spot, and there's always a chance of an upset when it comes to the World Cup.
One of the most familiar sides in the Women's World Cup is Germany, who is one of only a handful of teams who have competed in every iteration of the tournament since its inception in 1991. While they have not won since their golden years of the mid-2000s, the German side is still one of exceptional quality and overwhelming firepower. Regardless of the year, Germany is always a contender in each tournament it enters and this World Cup will be no different. DFB-Frauen will be looking for a perfect start by topping Group H.
Women's World Cup debutants Morocco will be looking to make a big impression upon its debut. This impression may however be in the form of resilient performances rather than impressive wins as Morocoo take on the goliath Germany, as well as two quality teams in Colombia and South Korea. Each other team having knockout stage experience makes it a tough ask for Morocco to draw much success from but experience brings consistency and Morocco will be hoping to build that experience starting here.
Colombia has the strength of youth on its side, and also a level of determination having failed to qualify for the 2019 World Cup. With a couple of experienced heads there to guide and lead the extremely talented young players, Colombia will be looking to once again reach the knockout stages with its exciting style. Perhaps a preview of what could be an even stronger team in future World Cups, getting a win against South Korea will be imperative for the team's progression.
And at last, we have South Korea, who presents almost the opposite team composition as its closest rivals in this group, Colombia. The Tigers of Asia boast several very experienced players who have competed all over the world. Perhaps none more decorated than Ji So-Yun. South Korea will be looking to ensure cooler heads prevail and the team in turn finds itself in the knockout stages with a positive result against Colombia. If that fixture is a draw, then it could all come down to goal difference.
PREDICTED GROUP H STANDINGS
South Korea 4pts