Women’s World Cup 2023: Australia and Canada Highlight “Group of Death” a.k.a Group B

World Cup
FILE – The United States players hold the trophy as they celebrate winning the Women’s World Cup final soccer match against The Netherlands at the Stade de Lyon in Decines, outside Lyon, France on July 17, 2019. More prize money than ever will be awarded at this year’s Women’s World Cup, and the players stand to get direct payments from FIFA this time. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco, File)

The Womens World Cup begins one week from today in Australia and New Zealand. The tournament will take place “down under,” and the teams in Group B are looking to rise above in the so-called group of death.

On the first day of the tournament, all four nations from Group B will face off. Co-host Australia takes on Ireland on July 20th, while Nigeria will play Canada.

With this being the most expansive Women’s World Cup group stage, seeing eight groups of four nations, it’s important to look at each team to give a good view of their strengths and weaknesses. We continue to do just that by looking at Group B.

World Cup
FILE – The United States players hold the trophy as they celebrate winning the Women’s World Cup final soccer match against The Netherlands at the Stade de Lyon in Decines, outside Lyon, France on July 17, 2019. More prize money than ever will be awarded at this year’s Women’s World Cup, and the players stand to get direct payments from FIFA this time. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco, File)

Australia: FIFA Ranking #10

Group Stage Games: 7/20 vs Ireland, 7/27 vs Nigeria, 7/31 vs Canada

Australia has been one of the giants in Women’s soccer for a while. Recently that has been because of their all-time scoring leader Sam Kerr (63 goals in 120 matches), and a very deep team around her led by head coach Tony Gustavsson. The Matildas are hoping to make history this time around by making it past a quarterfinal round for the first time ever.

To do that they will have to make it through the group of death that Group B has been labeled. They begin group play against a team on the rise, Ireland, the Matildas should win that match, but they will need to not underestimate their opponent.

In match number two for Australia, they will play the “weakest” team in the group Nigeria. While this should be a game that goes the co-host’s way, Nigeria has been a top African side who are looking to make a statement at this World Cup.

Their final match will be a much-anticipated game between world powers. The Matildas take on Canada in a top-10 showdown. This match could determine who wins the Group of Death. For Australia, they will need to hope to be better than the last three times they played Canada, as they lost all three of those matches.

While Australia didn’t have to qualify for this tournament since they are a co-host, they will still be a force to be reckoned with. They have momentum on their side as they have won their last four matches, and have one final tune-up today against a strong France side. Will we see this Matilda’s side make the deep run that they are searching for at this World Cup?

World Cup
FILE – Australia’s Sam Kerr celebrates after scoring against England during the women’s international friendly soccer match between England and Australia at the Gtech Community Stadium in London, England, Tuesday, April 11, 2023. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)

Canada: FIFA Ranking #7

Group Stage Games: 7/20 vs Nigeria, 7/26 vs Ireland, 7/31 vs Australia

Canada is a powerhouse in women’s Soccer. They are strong but have not been able to ever take the top prize of hoisting the Women’s World Cup trophy. The closest they came was finishing fourth 20 years ago. Now, they are looking to change their fortunes in the group of death.

Canada begins their journey at the 2023 Women’s World Cup by taking on Nigeria. This will be an intriguing matchup as Canada loves to dominate the ball. If they can do that and boss Nigeria around, then we could see a good win for the Canadians to start the tournament. However, Canada lost their only non-friendly meeting against Nigeria back in 2011.

They then will face the challenge of up-and-coming Ireland. The two nations have never played against each other ever. No better place to start what could be an interesting and unorthodox rivalry than in a World Cup. Ireland could be on the ropes at this point if they lose their first match vs Australia, so this match could be a cagy affair.

To finish the group stage Canada get their big showdown with co-host Australia. While Australia will have home field advantage, it is Canada that might have the upper hand. The Canadians have never lost to Australia. In a match that could be for the top of Group B, this one could be an instant classic.

Canada is a very strong team, led by head coach Bev Priestman. Under Priestman Canada has won nine, drawn five, and lost just three games; that’s not too shabby last three years. The main headliner for Canada will continue to be Christine Sinclair. She is the World’s leading goalscorer for men and Women scoring 190 goals in 323 matches for Canada. Can she and the talented Canada side dominate their group and make a run in the knockout rounds?

World Cup
FILE – Canada’s Christine Sinclair (12) and Trinidad and Tobago’s Victoria Swift compete for the ball during a CONCACAF women’s championship soccer match in Monterrey, Mexico, July 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano, File)

Ireland: FIFA Ranking #22

Group Stage Games: 7/20 vs Australia, 7/26 vs Canada, 7/31 vs Nigeria

For the first time ever, Ireland has made the Women’s World Cup! The tournament expansion from 24 to 32 nations has helped many debutants make the Group Stage, and Ireland is a team on the rise that will have something to prove as they go up against the best of the best in the group of death.

Ireland had to qualify for this World Cup through a grueling European qualification stage. They finished second in their group which meant they needed to win a playoff match against their rivals Scotland just to make the tournament, they won that match 1-0 and now have the chance to play in a World Cup!

Ireland starts their first-ever Group Stage against co-host Australia. This will be a tough game for Ireland and they will need to disrupt Australia’s lethal attacking players if they want a chance in this match. While that is a tall task, could the moment of playing in the World Cup raise the level of these Irish players?

If Australia isn’t enough of a test, then Canada will be for Ireland. Having those two back-to-back is really a great litmus test to show just how Ireland stand-up against some of the best teams in the World. Ireland has been training for this ahead of the World Cup with matches against the USA and France. They lost all three but could gain some great experience from them that helps them at this World Cup.

In their final game, Ireland takes on Nigeria. The Group could be out of reach by this point, but if it isn’t Ireland will look to defeat a top African nation in order to make the knockout rounds. Captain Katie McCabe and midfielder Denise O’Sullivan have scored the most for this Irish side, and if they want to make an improbable run to the Round of 16 they will need those players to step up in a big way!

World Cup
FILE – Ireland’s Sinead Farrelly (28) moves the ball past United States defender Crystal Dunn (19) during the second half of an international friendly soccer match in Austin, Texas, Saturday, April 8, 2023. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

Nigeria: FIFA Ranking #20

Group Stage Games: 7/20 vs Canada, 7/27 vs Australia, 7/31 vs Ireland

Nigeria may be one of the underdogs of Group B, but they are actually the only nation in this group to make every single Women’s World Cup! In the last World Cup, they made the knockout rounds, and this time around they will be looking to do the same in a very tough group.

Nigeria is the top-ranked African nation at this World Cup, and it will need to show its strength in its first match vs Canada. Playing a top-10 team in game one could either be a blessing or a curse for this side. Nigeria played Canada twice in friendlies in 2022 losing one, and drawing the other. They did best Canada in the 2011 World Cup group stage, can they do it again this time around?

Match two for Nigeria is not any easier as they take on Australia. These two sides have only met once, back in the 2015 World Cup group stage. Australia got the better of Nigeria in that one winning 2-0. This time around Nigeria will hope to be more organized and stop Australia from dictating the entire match.

In a match-up of teams ranked 20th and 22nd, Nigeria ends their group stage against Ireland. Both nations will be hungry for points, and their pride will be on the line. This should be the most open match for Nigeria as they will likely need a win in this match for any hope of making back-to-back knockout rounds.

Nigeria reportedly is dealing with wage disputes with the FA. There have been rumors of boycotting matches at this Women’s World Cup. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen, and that their FA follows through with what they should be paying their team that is just one of seven nations to make every interaction of the Women’s World Cup. Nigeria’s on-field aspirations will be to make it back to the quarterfinal stage they only have done once back in 1999!

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Mandatory Credit: AP Photo/Francisco Seco, AP Photo/Kin Cheung, AP Photo/Fernando Llano, & AP Photo/Eric Gay