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World Cup - Knockout Rounds: Power Rankings
In the most open World Cup of all time, who will be victorious?
Who will be the last one standing?
Japan - If you want to see the beautiful game played in it’s highest form, Japan would be the chosen one. They truly play total team football. All credit to head coach, Futoshi Ikeda, who has consistently been right with his tactics, personnel, and decisions all tournament. Hinata Miyazawa has been absolutely brilliant and looks unstoppable (4 goals and 1 assist). Could the golden boot and ball be next?
England - Lauren James is her. Head coach, Sarina Wiegman, just knows how to win. Losing Keira Walsh is a huge blow and that’s an understatement. If they can continue to enforce their will on the opposition, this World Cup is theirs to lose. There’s an aura and confidence about this team that makes it feel like it’s their time.
France - After their opening game draw against Jamaica, they have awakened from their slumber. This team is as talented as anyone left in the field and are playing better with each game. They are well rested and rotated for the knockout rounds. Can Le Sommer and Diani consistently score in 4 more games?
Sweden - Amanda Ilestedt, Fridolina Rolfö, and Rebecka Blomqvist have combined for 7 goals. They won every group stage game with wins over South Africa, Italy, and Argentina, respectively. Can they knock out pre-tournament favorites USWNT next?
Spain - If you’re going to lose and still advance to the knockout rounds, always lose in the group stage. The loss to Japan will be the much-needed wake up call for time for this team.
Netherlands - Led by Jill Roord and Esmee Brugts, they are flying high after winning the group. In the game against the USWNT, they outplayed them for over an hour. Even with Vivianne Miedema, the Netherlands have used a team approach to find their goals.
Australia - With the entire country behind them, anything is possible for the Matildas. They’ll have to go forth without a healthy Sam Kerr who will likely be on the bench the rest of the way. Mary Fowler, Caitlin Foord, and Hayley Raso must be up to the challenge. Their team is built around Kerr, but Tony Gustavsson (Gustafsson) needs to update it to their new frontline.
Colombia - If you didn’t know who Linda Caicedo was before the World Cup, you sure do now. The Real Madrid star is the next soccer household name. Colombia has one of the brightest futures. The loss against Morocco was a surprise, but they’ll be ready for Jamaica.
USA - For a stacked team, Vlatko Andonovski has made it seem like the complete opposite. The team has looked terrible all tournament and all fingers point to the head coach. Their identity, tactics, and cohesion has made the USWNT unrecognizable. Who are they? We’ll find out against Sweden.
Switzerland - The top defensive teams at the World Cup are Switzerland, Jamaica, and Japan. Their backline refused to give a single goal to Norway, New Zealand, or the Philippines. If they can manage to keep the scores low, they can make a big splash.
Jamaica - The best defensive teams at the World Cup are Jamaica, Switzerland, and Japan. In the group stage, they did not concede a single goal! Can Khadija "Bunny" Shaw and Jamaica find goals in the round of 16? This team’s federation needs to treat the coaches and players properly as they’ve accomplished this in spite of their lack of support and unfair treatment.
Denmark - Winning 2 out of 3 group stage games would usually be good enough, but they have only scored 3 times in that span. They have too much attacking talent in Harder, Vangsgaard, Bruun, Madsen, and Gejl to not be producing more goals.
Nigeria - They made it out of the ‘group of death’ that includes: Australia, Canada, and the Republic of Ireland. Nigeria has been excellent defensively with two shutouts in the group. They have the star power to compete with England which will make for an excellent game.
South Africa - The reigning Africa Women Cup of Nations champion has officially arrived. After qualifying for their first World Cup in 2019, Desiree Ellis and Banyana Banyana have made it through to the round of 16 for the first time in their country’s history. Racing Louisville’s Thembi Kgatlana and Sejong Sportstoto’s Hildah Magaia have led one of the best offenses in the tournament. They’ve scored 4 of South Africa’s 6 goals.
Norway - Coming into the tournament, they were highly-regarded especially with elite players like Ada Hegerberg and Caroline Graham Hansen leading the way. It looked like Norway was on their way out until their 6-0 win over the Philippines. However, concerns remain with head coach Hege Riise’s management of the team.
Morocco - The debutants have made it to the knockout stage of the World Cup. In their first ever appearance, head coach Reynald Pedros and Morocco have the entire country behind them. Both the men’s and women’s programs have been exceptional.