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  • Writer's pictureTone Rasmussen

The Toughest Test: Group B Preview


Group B has been regarded as one of the toughest groups going into the World Cup. With host nation Australia, newcomer Ireland, and seasoned veterans Canada and Nigeria this one will be hard to escape.


Ireland

The newcomers to the World Cup circus, The Republic of Ireland get the honor to kick off their campaign against one of the host nations, Australia. With the game having been relocated to a bigger arena as the ticket demand was increasingly higher than expected. The Ireland squad consists of many players that have been around for a while and bring a ton of experience and some new fresh faces! They recently played two strong matches against the USA on American soil and showed that even though this is the first time qualifying for the World Cup they are not to be easily brushed over. They have a particularly strong midfield with Denise O´Sullivan and Katie McCabe running the show in midfield and will be key for the Irish to advance from this group. This group of players has shown resilience by qualifying and one should not count them out of the group.




Player to watch:

Katie McCabe

Arsenal's Katie McCabe is one of the most important players for Ireland. Her physicality and ball control will run the offense from the midfield. She's not shy of scoring a couple of bangers and her set-piece foot is deadly in action. An important piece of the puzzle and she is the heart and soul of this Ireland side.


Katie McCabe taking a corner for Ireland in their match against the USWNT | Photo by Elyanna Garcia


Canada

Reigning Olympic champions Canada are looking to advance further at this World Cup than they did in 2019, where they lost to Sweden in the round of 16. They will be missing an important player as veteran Janine Beckie is out with an ACL injury. Ranked at number 6 in the FIFA rankings they will always be a team you have to consider. Canada has depth at every position and players excelling in every major league in Europe and the NWSL. Even though they are the current Olympic champions they are not necessarily mentioned as favorites to win the World Cup. This is not a bad thing and despite the difficulties between the players and the federation they still look strong. Canada might just be the wildcard to win it all. Christine Sinclair is playing in what one would think is her last ever World Cup and there's no doubt she would want to go out in any other way than a memorable one.




Player to watch:

Julia Grosso

The 22-year-old Juventus midfielder scored the winning penalty in the Olympics. Grosso is projected to be the next rising star. The fast-paced midfielder can also play as a left-back, she is very technical and brings the Canadian side tons of creativity on the left flank. A very exciting young player to keep your eyes out for this world cup.


Julia Grosso during World Cup qualifying for Canada | Photo Credit to @juliagrosso7 Instagram



Australia

One would think a Host nation would get luckier in the group draw but Australia's Co-host got the better draw. That is not to take anything away from Australia but, it is a fairly hard group and there will be no easy matches. The Tillies recently handed Lionesses Head Coach Wiegman, her first loss as the England Head Coach. The squad has gone through quite a bit of changes since the last world cup and new players have stepped up. With Sam Kerr in form and a healthy Steph Catley and Ellie Carpenter, the Tillies could very well advance far in the competition. Australia has shown that they can be structured and sophisticated defensively and incredibly dangerous on the break. Opposition defenders constantly have to know where Sam Kerr is at all times which will also open up space for others. Playing on home turf should also give them an extra boost to perform and they have shown earlier that there is a lot of fight and spirit in this team.


Player to watch:

Kyra Cooney-Cross

Kyra Cooney-Cross during the 2019 AFC U-19 Women's Championship semi-final match vs Japan on 6 November 2019


Kyra Cooney-Cross is yet another young midfielder just breaking out on the big stage. Australia could be very dangerous with her passing abilities in the middle for Sam Kerr to run on. Having been around the world stage for a few years now I really believe she is about to have a breakout summer. The Hammarby IF player is very versatile, offensive-minded, and reads the game like a veteran.





Nigeria

The Nigerian Falcons qualified for their ninth straight world cup, one of seven teams to do so. Despite making an appearance at every world cup they have only progressed past the group stages twice. Nigeria is a team with a lot of history as one of the best teams in Africa over several years. Asisat Oshoala has been plagued with some injuries as of lately but seems to be ready for the world cup which will be crucial for the team as well as Atletico Madrid player, Rasheedat Ajibade. Although they are not the team with a target on their back this team knows they can beat any team on a good day.



Player to watch:

Asisat Oshoala

Playing for one of the best teams in the world Oshoala knows how to handle pressure and how it is to play on the big stage, winning the UWCL with Barcelona in 2021. She has been quite the goal machine for Barcelona with the number of goals being almost the same as the number of appearances. Oshoala is an extremely fun player to watch and one of the fastest forwards in the game. She also has that typical forward instinct where they just know where the ball is gonna be and when to be exactly where she needs to be, often described as a nightmare to tired defenders. Obviously, in Barcelona, she has star players all around her to dish up nice pass after nice pass but she has proven to be a notorious goalscorer for her country too.

Asisat Oshoala #8 for Nigeria

Group Schedule


Thu, Jul 20

Australia vs Republic of Ireland

⏰ 6:00 AM

🏟 Stadium Australia

📍 Sydney, AUS

📺 FOX


Thu, Jul 20

Nigeria vs Canada

⏰ 10:30 PM

🏟 Melbourne Rectangular Stadium

📍 Melbourne, AUS

📺 FOX


Wed, Jul 26

Canada vs Republic of Ireland

⏰ 8:00 AM

🏟 Perth Rectangular Stadium

📍 Perth, AUS

📺 FS1


Thu, Jul 27

Australia vs Nigeria

⏰ 6:00 AM

🏟 Lang Park

📍 Brisbane, AUS

📺 FS1


Mon, Jul 31

Republic of Ireland vs Nigeria

⏰ 6:00 AM

🏟 Melbourne Rectangular Stadium

📍 Melbourne, AUS

📺 FOX


Mon, Jul 31

Canada vs Australia

⏰ 6:00 AM

🏟 Lang Park

📍 Brisbane, AUS

📺 FS1




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