2019 Women's World Cup: Group B Preview
The 2019 Women's World Cup kicks off in France on June 7th. It is time to get to know the teams, so be sure to check out the Group A preview.
Let's turn attention to Group B, which consists of Germany, Spain, South Africa, and China. There are two clear favorites to advance out of the group, per the FanDuel Sportsbook.
Which teams, players and matchups should you focus on in Group B?
Germany are the reigning Olympic champions and third-favorite to win the entire competition, but it is a time of transition. Results have been mixed this year, although they have two wins and a draw in their most recent friendlies. They did fall behind to Japan twice before finding a 2-2 result at the beginning of April. Their final test before taking on China on June 8th in their World Cup opener will be against Chile on Thursday.
Germany are under the management of Martina Voss-Tecklenburg, who won 125 caps for Germany and recently coached Switzerland. The new manager also has World Cup experience as a player. She has been in charge for only four friendly matches, so the team is still experimenting with different systems and formations. Voss-Tecklenburg takes over a team with new leaders and one that comes in tied for the fifth-youngest in the competition.
Despite some of the usual suspects being off the roster, there are still a number of players who have become household names. Sara Dabritz has been a mainstay for the German team since 2013 and has been called upon consistently by Voss-Tecklenburg. Dabritz is an offensive-minded midfielder who has scored 10 times in 59 appearances for the national team. She is one of the main reasons that one of the German team's biggest strengths is their passing. Dabritz will likely need to be more of a leader during this tournament as her 59 caps is fifth-most on the roster.
However, it is Alexandra Popp who will likely wear the captain's armband. Popp has scored 45 goals in 95 appearances while playing both left-back and center forward. She has settled in to the forward role and will be a goal threat in every match of the World Cup after scoring 13 goals in 20 appearances in the Bundesliga this season.
Team of Intrigue
There is plenty of momentum to improve the women's game in China, but they are at least one cycle away from being competitive. However, Spain is gaining momentum in just their second World Cup. One will find the hashtag #JugarLucharYGanar (#PlayFightWin) associated with La Roja on any social media channel, and it has become a mantra for the team heading to France. They finished last in the group four years ago but were undefeated in qualifying this time around. Despite a loss and a goalless draw in their last three matches leading into this summer, the team remains upbeat on their chances in France.
One of Spain's best players, Vero Boquete, led a protest after the 2015 World Cup and remains off the World Cup roster. Forward Jennifer Hermoso and midfielders Virginia Torrecilla and Amanda Sampedro will need to provide the spark. Spain has employed a 4-3-3 formation of late, with Torrecilla playing a pivotal role in front of the back line, starting the transition from defense to attack.
Spain won the Algarve Cup in 2017 and followed it up with a win in the Cyprus Cup last year. They will have a chance to impress in the group stage, especially in their second match against Germany. However, there is a chance they face the U.S. in what could be their first women's knockout round game in Spain's World Cup history.
Dzsenifer Marozsan, Germany
Marozsan is a great playmaker in the midfield and just fun to watch overall. At 15, she became the youngest player to ever appear in a Bundesliga match. She has now won the Champions League with superpower Lyon and been named the best player in the French league twice. Marozsan scored the winner in the Olympics in 2016. She overcame a pulmonary embolism in the summer of 2018 and is in her prime coming into the World Cup.
Marozsan has scored 32 goals in 89 appearances for Germany, and the World Cup is the only major trophy missing from her resume. She will be motivated to play in the final that takes place in Lyon, the city she has called home in club play since 2016.
Match in Focus
China vs. Spain -- June 17th
This match should be for the right to advance to get second in the group, with South Africa unlikely to compete on this level. Depending on the outcome of the previous match against Germany, Spain could also be fighting to top the group. This match could be played in front of 25,000 fans at the Stade Oceane and may stand as the most important match in Spain's women's soccer history.
It could also signify China's return to prominence. They made the quarterfinals in 2015 but have not made it past that point since 1999. The bigger story would be China advancing despite having only 1,500 women in the entire player pool. Peng Shimeng, a 19-year-old keeper, will be under pressure trying to help the team overachieve in France.
What Lies Ahead
The Group B winner will take on one of the best third-place teams from either group A, C, or D. Based on FanDuel Sportsbook odds, that would mean a match with South Korea, Norway, Italy, or Scotland. The second-place team will take on the first-place team from Group F, potentially the United States.
The third-place team does have a chance to advance if all the cards fall in their favor. That could set up a match up with England, the Group D favorite ahead of Japan.
Group B begins play on June 8th, the second day of the tournament.