Women’s World Cup 2023: Brazil and France heavy favorites in Group F

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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)

We’re just a few days away from the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup Kicking off and with a few more groups to dissect before the globe’s best tournament begins, Group F is one that looks to be a bit one-sided.  With just 1 previous trip to the World Cup between the two hopeful CONCACAF sides, Panama and Jamaica are surely the underdogs in this group, going up against two of the top 10 most favored nations to be crowned World Cup Champions in France and Brazil.  Here’s a look at what we can expect from Group F.

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)

France: FIFA Ranking #5

Group Stage Games: 7/23 vs Jamaica, 7/29 vs Brazil, 8/2 vs Panama

France, while one of the top contenders in the competition. is a team that’s had a decent amount of drama off the pitch leading up to this World Cup. Due to a number of Senior players announcing they would no longer play for the National Team because of how the National Team was being run, France decided to move on from then Manager Corinne Diacre, which seemed to quiet the storm and allowed for the reintegration of the players on the pitch who previously had wanted to step away. 

Now, Herve Renard is leading the way as Manager of France, and feelings around the camp are much more hopeful for France to move forward and have a successful tournament, even with injuries to a few key players.  

It’s undeniable what quality France has, but they’ve struggled to get themselves over the hump, with 4th place being their best finish in 2009 and exiting in the quarterfinals as hosts in 2019.  And on top of that, It’s a big possibility that this could be 33-year-old French Captain Wendie Renard, among other senior players, last go at winning the World Cup. 

Luckily for France, being drawn into a group with Jamaica and Panama means the likelihood of them advancing out of the group stage is pretty high, which means France will be looking to go deep in the tournament once again, hoping to finally get into the Semi-Finals for the first time, and eventually to the World’s biggest stage. 

But of course, France can’t overlook either Jamaica or Panama in the group stage, as both Nations will be hopeful to advance through the group stage for the very first time themselves.  The opening game against Jamaica will prove to be an important piece to how Group F shakes out, and it’s one France should probably win pretty easily.  But If France fails to get anything other than a Win in match 1, it leaves the door wide open for Panama and Jamaica to wedge their way into the 2nd spot in the Group. 

Match 2 against Brazil is going to be a fun one.  2 of the tournament’s most favored teams going at it, with some of the world’s best stars on the pitch.  But again, if France fails to get anything less than a result in Match 1, the importance of Match 2 against Brazil could increase past just an enjoyable match to watch, and one with real weight if both France and Brazil advance in Group F.

Depending on what happens in the first 2 matches around the rest of Group F, match 3 against Panama could be a lot of fun as well.  Who knows what the situation could be like, but maybe Panama is looking to play spoiler against France and keep them from advancing in the group, maybe Panama is looking to claim the 2nd spot themselves, or maybe France is looking for 3 points to secure the top spot in the group and force Brazil to miss out.

Maybe it’s a meaningless match, with both Brazil and France sitting comfortably going into their final match.  It’s hard to tell what match 3 could bring, but hopefully, it’s one with a lot of drama and twists in the story.

World Cup
FILE – France’s Wendie Renard misses to score a penalty during the Women Euro 2022 group D soccer match between France and Belgium, at the New York Stadium, Rotherham, England, Thursday July 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira, File)

Brazil: FIFA Ranking: 8

Group Stage Games: 7/24 vs Panama, 7/29 vs France, 8/2 vs Jamaica 

Brazil is another one of the tournament’s top contenders, looking to finally get over the hump and win their first World Cup, with their best finish being runners-up in 2007.  In addition to their hopes of finally winning Brazil’s first Women’s World Cup, Brazil legend Marta has announced that at the age of 37, this will be her final time playing in the competition.  Because of that, many of Marta’s teammates have spoken up about wanting to win the World Cup to send Marta off with the highest honor, as Messi did with Argentina.  

Brazil, coming off a Copa America Championship under Head Coach Pia Sundhage, feels pretty good about their form coming into the World Cup, having won all 6 of their matches in the competition, and outsourcing their opponents by a score of 20-0.  The 4-4-2 that Brazil normally lines up allows for solid structure in the backline and in the midfield, but will often move forward with positional flexibility in the attack.

In very similar fashion to France, Brazil’s first match against Panama is going to be very important in breezing through this group stage with ease – anything less than a win in that match as expected, and things could get pretty dicey quickly, that’s the beauty of group stage football. 

Once again, the second match between France and Brazil is the marquee matchup in Group F and one that could play a significant role in which two teams advance to the knockout round. 

If either one of those teams heads into match 2 with anything less than 3 points, you can be sure the other will be smelling blood and going straight for the throat, hoping to increase the chances of them being upset by Jamaica or Panama in the group stage. 

Just like France, match 3 against Jamaica could arrive with various different possibilities on which two teams advance through to the knockout stage.  For all involved, except maybe France and Brazil, let’s just hope that either Jamaica or Panama is still alive come match 3.

World Cup
FILE – Brazil forward Marta (10) controls the ball during the second half of a SheBelieves Cup women’s soccer match against Japan, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023, in Orlando, Fla. The United States will be playing for an unprecedented three-peat at the Women’s World Cup this summer. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)

Jamaica: FIFA Ranking: 43

Group Stage Games: 7/23 vs France, 7/29 vs Panama, 8/2 vs Brazil

2023 marks just the second time Jamaica will compete in the FIFA World Cup, with their first trip concluding in a last-place finish in the group stage of the 2019 tournament. This time around, Jamaica are confident they can outdo their previous attempt with World Cup rookies Panama also in their group but are looking to play spoiler to one of the big dogs in the group in either France or Brazil. 

One thing is for certain, Jamaica and their fans should be applauded for even making it to the World Cup, no thanks to CONCACAF, after crowd-funding over $50,000 in order to cover needed expenses for the tournament.  

Coming off a third-place finish in the CONCACAF Championship, right after head coach Lorne Donaldson took charge, Jamaica feels pretty good about themselves coming into this competition. Jamaica’s best player is Khadija Shaw, a young center forward looking to get Jamaica on the score sheet this World Cup around after failing to do so in Jamaica’s first go-about, being the Nation’s leading goal scorer with 55 goals in 38 appearances.

Jamaica’s first match will be against France, and it’s no secret that Jamaica is coming into that one as an underdog.  But that’s what makes the group stage exciting, the prospect of a smaller nation getting a huge result over a bigger, more practiced one, even if that’s just a draw.  If Jamaica can somehow hold France to even a draw, the whole group could be flipped upside down. 

Match 2 sees Jamaica take on Panama, a game that Jamaica will feel confident in and will be vital to them clinching 3rd place.  But again, if Jamaica can get a result in match 1, match 2 against Panama becomes much bigger in deciding which 2 teams top the group, and could potentially have them at the top heading into match 3, pending results elsewhere between Brazil and France. 

Match 3 against Brazil will be another difficult match, one in which Jamaica is just hoping to play spoiler in, at the very least clinch the 3 spot in the group.

Panama: FIFA Ranking: #52

Group Stage Games: 7/24 vs Brazil, 7/29 vs Jamaica, 8/2 vs France

The last team we need to look at in Group F is Panama.  Panama is making its first World Cup appearance, after keeping clean sheets against both Papua New Guinea and Paraguay in the Inter-Confederation Playoffs.  Panama has earned their success and made it to the World Cup by grinding out close wins due to a 5-4-1 defensively sound team managed by Ignacio Quintana.

If Panama is somehow able to find the back of the net on the World’s biggest stage, there’s a good chance 23-year-old Riley Tanner of NWSL’s Washington Spirit has something to do with it.  

Regarding expectations for Panama, it might be one of those “We’re just happy to be here!” moments.  Panama has done a really great job at grinding out tight games in order to make their way to the World Cup, but the competition is just so much tougher at this stage.  It’s going to be really tough for Panama to get anything out of this group, but they really should feel proud of what they’ve already accomplished. 

If one thing is going Panama’s way, it’s the fact that they virtually have zero pressure on them to succeed, and sometimes that’s enough for an opponent to overlook you and for an upset to happen.  I think we’d all love to see Panama play Cinderella in Group F.

Don’t miss out on our other Women’s World Cup previews as well:

Group A | Group B | Group C | Group D | Group E

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Mandatory Credit: AP Photo/Francisco Seco, AP Photo/Rui Vieira, & AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack