Play time over for the women at France 19
Background photo: Zakarie Faibis, CC-by-SA-4.0
With 24 teams, the women’s World Cup offers a slightly more nuanced dynamic than the men’s when Matchday 3 rolls around. Successful nations want to win their groups emphatically to ensure a favourable draw in the Round of 16. Struggling ones want to post one desperate result that pushes them over the line rather than into the abyss. But there is also a third group stuck in the middle who won’t draw one of the sharks nor a lucky minnow. They’ll be pitted against a side who are more or less their equal. It’s not the worst prospect. Nor is it a group in which you want to find yourself.
France 19 fields six groups of four. The four best third-place countries complete the field. If it wasn’t for scheduling difficulties, the four top group winners could face the third-place teams. Unfortunately, that might force some teams to play with insufficient rest between matches while others hit the jackpot for recovery time. Showing a little foresight for a change, FIFA mapped out a table that assigns third-place teams to the winners from Groups A-D while Group E and F winners face the runners-up from Groups D and B respectively.
Some teams are already through. France, Germany, Italy, England, the Netherlands, Canada, the United States and Sweden all sit on six points. They will appear in the Round of 16 but their final group stage games must still determine whether they can win their groups. Four points guarantee the remaining places since two teams in both Group E and F haven't registered a point. Japan is already there.
Check the lay of the land as each nation prepares for their final game in the group stage.