The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand is just days away, and we’re coming at you with previews of every group in the tournament, featuring odds from our friends at bet365. In anticipation of that opening match and each to follow, Canada Sports Betting will continue to spotlight each match day’s fixtures with daily previews!
In this preview, we’ll be focusing on Group F.
While every group at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup will be action-packed and full of surprises, few will see such tight competition for top billing. With France (FIFA World ranking 5) and Brazil (8) squaring off, which nation will nab first is anyone’s guess. Jamaica (43) will look to upset expectations, while Panama (52) should be content with simply being at their first World Cup Finals.
|To Win Group||To Qualify||To Not Qualify|
Group F Team Previews
Les Bleues arrive at the World Cup having made a big change.
The ongoing row between the players and former head coach Corinne Diacre reached a boiling point long ago, but the decision to replace the manager came only in March. In stepped Hervé Renard, trademark-fitted white shirt and all, whose most recent managerial feat was Saudi Arabia’s shock group stage win over Argentina in the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup.
Having not qualified for four of the first five World Cups, France will be making their fifth appearance. A fourth-place finish in 2011, knocked out at the semi-finals stage by the USA, was their highest-ever and heralded their arrival on the world’s stage. But the journey has been halted at the quarter-finals in the last two editions, including a home tournament where they were knocked out by eventual winners USA.
On the club side, France’s D1 Féminine has long been one of the leading lights for the professional game, but international success has been slow to follow.
They reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 last summer, defeating the Netherlands 1-0 in extra time to advance from the quarters, but fell 2-1 to Germany.
France qualified for Australia/New Zealand atop UEFA Group I, winning all 10 matches, outscoring opponents 54-4. Losses away to Germany (2-1) and Sweden (3-0) were signs trouble, followed by a victory over Norway at home. Unbeaten through the 2023 Tournoi de France in February, France would win that tournament on home soil before bringing in Renard.
Wins at home in April over Colombia (5-2) and Canada (2-1) in the first two matches of the new regime, and then away to Republic of Ireland (3-0) at the start of this month followed, but France lost their final warm-up game 1-0 to Australia last Friday.
With the departure of Diacre clearing the air, the aim will be semi-finals at minimum, but with just four matches together did that change come too late?
Player to Watch: Wendie Renard
The 33-year-old centre-back with 144 appearances and 34 goals has long been a stalwart for club and country. The Lyon defender was one of the players who threatened to withhold her participation at the World Cup.
Dominant in both boxes, the captain will be making her fourth appearance at the Women’s World Cup.
Despite the absences of key attackers Delphine Cascarino and Marie-Antoinette Katoto, top goalscorer in qualification with 10 – both out with ACL injuries, a rash of which has robbed the tournament of a number of stars – France will look to all-time leading scorer Eugénie Le Sommer.
With 88 goals in 177 appearances, the 34-year-old will be making her fourth World Cup appearance.
The Seleção head to Australia/New Zealand with something to prove. Despite appearing at every one of the previous eight Women’s World Cups, Brazil have never lifted the trophy. A third-place finish in 1999 and runners-up in 2007 were their best finishes. On the heels of a disappointing Round of 16 exit to France in 2019, falling 2-1 after extra time, Brazil will want more from this edition.
Decorated and well-respected Swedish national Pia Sundhage is the first non-Brazilian coach to ever take the managerial reins for the national team, a domestic talking point for sure. The side qualified for 2023 by winning their 2022 Copa América Femenina semi-final 2-0 over Paraguay. Brazil went on to defeat Colombia 1-0 in the Final, amassing a perfect record of six wins while outscoring the opposition 20-0 to lift their eighth such title – Brazil have won all but one Copa.
Four-straight away wins at the end of 2022 – South Africa twice (3-0 and 6-0), Norway (4-1) and Italy (0-1) – continued that strong run before returning home for a two-game series with Canada where the two would split the results, each winning 2-1.
Brazil had a difficult showing at the SheBelieves Cup in February, defeating Japan 1-0 in the opener, only to fall 2-0 to Canada and 2-1 to the USA. There was further disappointment in the UEFA-CONMEBOL Women’s Finalissima at Wembley Stadium in April, drawing 1-1 with England before losing 4-2 on kicks from the spot. But a 2-1 win away to Germany and a 4-0 win over Chile back home in early July has them off to the World Cup battle tested.
Perhaps that was the point. To be the best, one has to beat the best; in the last calendar year Brazil have tested themselves against four of the top 10 and six of the top 12.
Player to Watch: Debinha
The 31-year-old forward scored the tournament-winning goal in the Copa América, one of her five goals in the competition. She was joint top-scorer for Brazil with midfielder Adriana.
With 58 goals in 134 appearances, Debinha will be tasked with leading the line for Sundhage’s side now that Marta has taken up a less prominent role. In 12 matches this season for NWSL side KC Current, the Brazilian has six goals and one assist. In the six previous seasons with the North Carolina Courage she averaged a goal every three matches.
Marta, 37, will be with the squad and will play in her sixth, and possibly final, World Cup. The legend holds the record for most goals at the Women’s World Cup Finals with 17. Her teammates and the nation would love nothing more than to give her the sendoff that Argentina provided Leo Messi at the Men’s World Cup in December.
A good mix of youth and experience, Brazil are missing that middle group of players in the prime of their careers. And with the focal point of the women’s game increasingly relocating over to Europe, nearly as many squad members are based at home and in North America as across the pond.
The Reggae Girlz will be making their second-straight appearance at the World Cup Finals having lost all three group stage matches in their 2019 debut.
Lorne Donaldson’s side qualified for Australia/New Zealand by finishing runners-up in Group B at the 2022 CONCACAF W Championship last summer, behind the USA. Jamaica would go on to lose 3-0 to Canada in the semi-finals, but finished third, just as they did in 2018, after a 1-0 extra-time victory over Costa Rica.
Results have been rare since. They lost both matches in a friendly series away to South Korea, 1-0 and 2-0, then split a pair of friendlies in Jamaica against Paraguay, winning the first 1-0 and losing the second 2-1.
And the new year was similarly unkind with a trio of losses at the 2023 Cup of Nations in Australia in February, where they were outscored 9-2 with 3-0 losses to Spain and the hosts, as well as a 3-2 defeat against the Czech Republic. But they go into the opening match with a 1-0 warm-up win over Morocco on Sunday.
In 2019, Jamaica were shut out in the opening two matches against Brazil and Italy, but scored their first World Cup goal against Australia in the third. That milestone cracked, they will be looking to go one better, get that first point or even a first win. It will be tough in a group that contains both France and Brazil, but Jamaica will make some noise.
Player to Watch: Khadija “Bunny” Shaw
The 26-year-old Manchester City striker is Jamaica’s all-time record goalscorer with 56 goals in 38 appearances – yes, 56 goals, that is not a typo. She was the 2022 CONCACAF Player of the Year, no small feat given the confederation contains both the USA and Canada.
Lightning quick and dangerous in all facets of the game, Shaw was tied for top scorer with three goals at the 2022 CONCACAF W Championship, but also scored nine more in the four matches Jamaica played to earn their spot at that tournament.
While Shaw is the standout star, Jamaica, much like with the men’s side, has been taking advantage of the diaspora to strengthen the squad. This group includes more than a few USA and England-born players with Jamaican heritage.
Las Canaleras will be making their Finals debut this year.
Led by Mexican coach Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Quintana, Panama took the long road to the World Cup. A third-place finish in Group B at the 2022 CONCACAF W Championship with losses to Costa Rica and Canada was confirmed when they beat Trinidad and Tobago, 1-0, in the final group stage match to clinch a spot in the intercontinental playoffs.
Drawn into Group C, they first beat Papua New Guinea 2-0 in the semi-finals and then Paraguay 1-0 in the final to qualify. Lineth Cedeño scored that historic goal.
They won both friendlies against the Dominican Republic in April at home, lost 2-0 at home to Colombia, but drew 1-1 in the return fixture, and followed that up with a 7-0 defeat of Gibraltar – bright spots in their preparations. Recent heavy defeats – 7-0 to Spain and 5-0 to Japan, both away – will be cause for concern.
But for a squad made up largely of domestic, semi-professional players, this debut will be less about the results and more about showing the nation what is possible.
Player to Watch: Marta Cox
The 26-year-old forward, who plays for Pachuca in the Liga MX Femenil in Mexico, is the top scorer on the squad with nine goals in 19 appearances.
Panama’s squad is largely untested on the international stage. Cox’s 19 caps is the joint-most of any player with half the team having made fewer than 10 appearances.
Group F Winner Odds
|To Win Group||To Qualify||To Not Qualify|
France and Brazil should qualify from this group, but Jamaica could be a fun, and profitable, dark horse pick. If you like Jamaica to upset, why not also take Brazil (+800) to not qualify?
Group F World Cup Winner Odds
It wouldn’t be overly surprising to see either France or Brazil lifting the trophy in August. Both squads have appetizing odds to win the event and are intriguing mid-level wagering options.