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 H.
The final group of the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup is perhaps the most open after the top seed.
European powerhouse Germany (FIFA World ranking 2) are the clear class of Group H, but with Asian side South Korea (17), South America’s Colombia (25) and North Africa upstarts Morocco (72) drawn together, that second spot in the Round of 16 is up for grabs.
|To Win Group
|To Not Qualify
Group H Team Previews
Two-time winners (2003 and 2007), runners-up in 1995, Germany have played in all eight previous Women’s World Cup Finals and have never failed to reach at least the quarter-finals stage.
A quarter-finals exit at home in 2011, a 2015 fourth-place finish in Canada, and a 2019 quarter-finals exit in France, losing 2-1 to Sweden, had many wondering if DFB-Frauen’s time at the top had passed, but that spark was reignited last summer at the 2022 UEFA Women’s Euros where they were runners-up, losing 2-1 to England in extra time of the Final.
Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s side qualified for Australia/New Zealand at the top of UEFA Group H with nine wins and one loss – a 3-2 defeat away to Serbia – outscoring opponents 47-5.
A string of impressive results – beating France 2-1 at home and splitting a two-game series away to the USA with each winning 2-1 – wrapped up 2022, but worryingly Germany have won just two of five matches this year: beating the Netherlands 1-0 and Vietnam 2-1, drawing 0-0 against Sweden, and losing 2-1 to Brazil and 3-2 against Zambia. Both defeats came at home..
Player to Watch: Alexandra Popp
Popp, who will wear the armband for Germany, has 62 goals in 128 appearances for Germany.
The 32-year-old striker plays for VfL Wolfsburg in Germany and was the joint top-scorer at UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 with six goals. She scored in every match of the tournament, but missed the final with injury.
Keep an eye out for midfielder Lena Oberdorf, 21, who was named the Best Young Player at Euro 2022. She is the piece that allows everything else to function.
Interestingly with the women’s professional game growing more internationally, the squad is almost exclusively domestic-based. All but three players play in Germany.
Las Chicas Superpoderosas will be making their third appearance at the Women’s World Cup Finals, returning to the competition after failing to reach the 2019 edition.
In 2015 Colombia reached the Round of 16, losing 2-0 to the USA, who went on to lift the trophy.
Nelson Abadía’s side qualified for Australia/New Zealand by defeating Argentina 1-0 in the semi-finals of the 2022 Copa América Femenina. Colombia, tournament hosts, would test Brazil in the Final, but lost 1-0 to a first half penalty kick. It was their third runner-up finish at the regional championship.
The side has been very busy since, using all available windows. Colombia won six straight to end 2022, beating Costa Rica, Paraguay and Zambia twice each without conceding a goal. They opened the new year at the 2023 Women’s Revelations Cup in Mexico, drawing 1-1 with Costa Rica and Mexico, defeating Nigeria 1-0, and then really challenged themselves in Europe, losing 5-2 to France and 2-1 to Italy.
A 2-0 away win and 1-1 draw at home in a series against Panama sent them off to Australia in high spirits, although perhaps too much so as their final warm-up game against Republic of Ireland was abandoned after 20 minutes with complaints from the opponent that the Colombians were too physical. They’re clearly up for the challenge ahead.
Player to Watch: Linda Caicedo
The 18-year-old forward transferred from the domestic league to Real Madrid in February.
Caicedo won the Golden Ball as best player at the Copa, earned a spot in the Best XI, and scored the World Cup-clinching goal against Argentina.
Having made her professional debut at 14, Caicedo was busy last year playing in the U17s, the U20s, and helped the senior side qualify for the World Cup.
It will not fall entirely on her young shoulders, as Colombia have a nice mix of experienced players and up-and-coming talent. All-time leading scoring Catalina Usme and captain Daniela Montoya, who scored the nation’s first Women’s World Cup goal, are two of a handful of players in the squad who were part of the 2015 tournament. They will make use of that prior experience to turn some heads in Group H.
The Taegeuk Ladies will be making their fourth World Cup Finals appearance this summer.
A Round of 16 exit in 2015, losing 3-0 to France, was their highest finish. Korea lost all three matches in 2019, scoring one goal and conceding eight. In 10 all-time appearances they have one win and one draw.
Englishman Colin Bell’s side qualified for Australia/New Zealand via the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup, where they beat Australia 1-0 in the quarter-finals. South Korea would go on to beat the Philippines 2-0 in the semi-finals before losing the final 3-2 against China.
At the EAFF E-1 Football Champions last summer, the Koreans lost 2-1 to Japan and drew China 1-1, before beating Chinese Taipei 4-0, and then they closed 2022 with a 1-0 win over Jamaica at home, before a two-game series with New Zealand saw South Korea win 1-0 and draw 1-1 with both matches played in Christchurch.
In February, they lost all three matches at the 2023 Arnold Clark Cup – 4-0 vs England, 2-1 vs Belgium and 2-1 vs Italy – but head into the World Cup on the back of three home wins – twice over Zambia in April (5-2 and 5-0) and 2-1 over Haiti.
At a tournament with so many interesting new teams coming onto the stage, South Korea will need to perform to maintain a top-20 ranking.
Player to Watch: Ji So-yun
Their top scorer in qualification, including the goal that beat Australia to secure the Women’s World Cup berth, the 32-year-old midfielder has 67 goals in 145 matches for her nation.
Ji plays for Suwon FC in South Korea after spending nine seasons in England with Chelsea, where she averaged a goal every third match.
That South Korea-to-England pipeline is evident in their experienced midfield where Ji may line up alongside Cho So-hyun of Tottenham Hotspur and Lee Geum-min of Brighton & Hove Albion. And with 13 players coming from two domestic clubs (seven from Incheon Hyundai SRA and six from Suwon) club relationships will carry over to the national team.
The Lionesses of Atlas making their Women’s World Cup debut this summer was all part of the plan.
Coached by Frenchman Reynald Pedros since he was brought in at the end of 2020 as part of a massive effort to develop women’s football by the Royal Moroccan Football Federation – everyone saw what the men were able to achieve in their most recent World Cup.
Morocco qualified for the Finals at the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations with a 2-1 quarter-finals win over Botswana after topping Group A. They defeated Nigeria 5-4 in a shootout in the semi-finals to advance, but lost 2-1 to South Africa in the final.
Results since have been spotty at best, winning two and drawing three of 11 matches. They were beaten 4-0 by Poland and Canada in October, Morocco then drew 2-2 and lost 4-0 to the Republic of Ireland in November.
A pair of wins – 3-0 over Slovakia and 2-0 against Bosnia and Herzegovina – would follow in February, but Morocco then lost 2-0 to the Czech Republic and 1-0 to Romania in April. Scoreless draws away against Italy and Switzerland, however, showed some fortitude before departing for Australia, only to lose the final warm-up match 1-0 to Jamaica in Melbourne last Sunday.
One of the up-and-coming sides of the women’s game, it will be interesting to see whether Morocco can find another gear when the lights shine brightest.
Player to Watch: Ghizlane Chebbak
The 32-year-old forward, who will captain the side, scored three goals in the Africa Cup of Nations, earning Player of the Tournament honours.
A champion multiple times over with her club, AS FAR, Chebbak, the daughter of a former professional men’s player, has 10 Moroccan Women’s Championships, nine Throne Cups, and a CAF Women’s Champions League (2022).
Seven players in the squad play for AS FAR, but recent recruiting efforts have brought in a smattering of European-based players at clubs in France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, England, and Switzerland. That tactic of looking to the diaspora for talent benefitted the men’s program greatly.
Chebbak, goalkeeper (and club mate) Khadija Er-Rmichi, and several others are a vanguard generation which predates the current push to accelerate the women’s game in the country. Much of the rest of the squad is significantly younger and inexperienced at this level.
Group H Winner Odds
|To Win Group
|To Not Qualify
As previously mentioned, this is one of the more interesting groups to wager on. Oddsmakers are giving the slight edge to Colombia to qualify over South Korea out of the group, but nobody would be surprised to see South Korea advance.
Group H World Cup Winner Odds
Germany is the only real threat to win it all in this group.