The 2023 Women’s World Cup kicks off in just six days, featuring 32 nations for the first time! Who will take home the glory of becoming champions of the World?
We are moving on to Group D of our preview series, but if you missed the previews of Groups A-C, you can read those here, as well:
England highlights Group D as favorites, but China and Denmark will be nipping at their heels to get out of this group. Haiti rounds out the group in their first-ever trip to the World Cup finals!
China: FIFA Ranking #14
Group Stage Games: 7/22 vs Denmark, 7/28 vs Haiti, 8/1 vs England
China was a prominent power in the Women’s Game back in the beginning days of the Women’s World Cup. They were a strong side in the ’90s finishing in fourth in ’95 and were runners-up in ’99. As the team progressed into the 2000s and 2010’s they failed to make it deep into the knockout rounds. This time around China will be hoping for a resurgence.
They’ll hope to start that resurgence against a strong European side Denmark. With England being the favorite in Group D, this match could all but determine who advances to the knockout rounds. China will look to stick to its guns and stay organized, if they can do that and hit Denmark on a counter, then they may just take all the points from this match.
Their second match is against newcomers Haiti. China’s Organization should be enough to fluster Haiti and draw them out of position. A multi-goal win should be on the cards for China if they execute their game plan in this one.
The final matchup of Group D sees China faceoff against England. This will be the most difficult match for China as they will face a team that is the exact opposite style to them. England will look to dominate, while China wants to sit in and invite pressure to hit on a counter. Who will win out and take Group D?
In case you couldn’t tell, China will look to be compact and hit their opponents on the counterattack. They will depend on their striker Wang Shanshan to be their talisman. She was in the Asian Cup which helped China qualify for this World Cup; scoring five goals and also helping out on defense she is the epitome of a “team over me” player. Will she and China be able to make a run past the quarterfinals?
Denmark: FIFA Ranking #13
Group Stage Games: 7/22 vs China, 7/28 vs England, 8/1 vs Haiti
Denmark has never been a great side at the Women’s World Cup, but they are always rated as a dark horse when they make a tournament. Many thought the same last summer in the European Championships, and they failed to make it out of the group. They haven’t made a World Cup since 2007 and will want to get the taste of their past failures out of their mouth. Could this happen at the World Cup?
The Danes start things off by playing China. This game will be hugely important for Denmark as it will set the tone for their tournament. If their at times lethal attack can fire on all cylinders, then they may just be able to disorganize China and come away with all three points.
Their second game will come against European foes England. England looks to be a team of destiny at this World Cup, but Denmark is in decent form this year winning five and losing two. Can they ride that good form into the tournament and push themselves to a point where they can get the better of England?
Denmark’s final match is against a good Haiti team; however, this should be one that Denmark sees as very winnable. Out of all of their matches in the group stage, this is one suited to Denmark’s strengths. They are a team that is together, and when they sense an opportunity to attack they do so. This should happen early and often vs Haiti.
This Denmark side is a talented one. Their ability to create good attacking chances through Sanne Troelsgaard (55 goals in 176 matches) and captain Pernille Harder (70 goals in 141 matches) is why many think this side could be a dark horse team to go on a run far in the knockouts. Only time will tell if they can actually do it, or if they will crash out of yet another tournament.
England: FIFA Ranking #4
Group Stage Games: 7/22 vs Haiti, 7/28 vs Denmark, 8/1 vs China
England are the team to beat in Group D. It’s not hard to see why. The Lionesses are the fourth-best team in the World and have consistently been getting better year after year. In the last two World Cups, they have finished third and fourth. This time around England is looking to assert their dominance and to win a World Championship.
Their first match is against a team that will be playing their first ever World Cup match Haiti. England is a team that loves to make other teams uncomfortable. They don’t allow opponents to get into the game. In a match playing their first-ever World Cup match, I expect England to do just that and get a win.
England’s second match is against Denmark. History tells us that Denmark will be hard-done in this game as well. England has won the last two meetings against Denmark and only given up a goal once in those two games. If the Lionesses can play their game, in what will be an open game against Denmark then we could see England win yet again.
The final match of England’s group stage is against China. Will England’s hectic style feature much against a team that loves to sit back and stay organized? This could be the hardest game for England as they are not built to let other teams come at them, yet this is what will need to happen if they want to get the best of China.
The Lionesses’ manager Sarina Wiegman has had major success coaching the Netherlands and now England. She won the Euros with the Netherlands, then took them to a World Cup final in 2019. After becoming England’s coach she helped them win the 2022 Euros, can she get this team to the promised land? She’ll need to rely on Rachel Daly who can play as a defender, a midfielder, or as she’s listed on the roster for this World Cup, a forward. The only thing stopping England from getting over the hump and winning a World Championship is themselves can they come together and find a way to win?
Haiti: FIFA Ranking #53
Group Stage Games: 7/22 vs England, 7/28 vs China, 8/1 vs Denmark
Haiti is one of the four debutants at this World Cup. Their journey to this World Cup is a great story. They have been rising up the ranks in Concacaf and got the better of Mexico in qualification to make inter-confederation playoff matches. They beat Senegal 4-0, and then Chile 2-1 after a goal in the 90+8 minute to make it to Australia/New Zealand. Their reward is to play against some very tough competition.
Their first-ever World Cup match is against an England team that is in a weird spot. They are the current Euro champions but are also undergoing a changing of the guard. Will Haiti be able to shock the world and get the better of England? It seems unlikely, but that’s the magic of the beautiful game.
Haiti’s second match will be against China. Another difficult assignment, as they will need to disorganize a team that looks to stay compact and then hit on the counter. If Haiti can find ways to do this, then they may just be able to get points from this match. It will take all they have, but it would be a huge accomplishment even to get a point in this group.
The final group stage match for Haiti is against Denmark. This game will be one that will be one that could see Denmark needing a win to advance to the knockout rounds. Haiti may have nothing to play for. I’d expect this one to be fairly wide open, and back and forth. With those types of matches, anything can happen.
Haiti may be the new kids on the block in this tournament, but they have a bonafide star in Melchie Dumornay. The midfielder is a world-class player, and as she goes so too will Haiti. While there are little to no expectations on this Haiti side to be competitive, Dumornay and the rest of this side will be giving all they have when on the world stage. Stranger things have happened, this team could shock the world if they aren’t taken seriously.
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Mandatory Credit: AP Photo/Francisco Seco, AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade, AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, & AP Photo/Fernando Llano.