2015 Women’s World Cup Canada: Group C Preview

June 3, 2015

This next group may be the weakest of all the pods in the 2015 Women’s World Cup, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth watching. Defending world champs Japan are the featured squad here and will try to become the second country (Germany being the other) to win back-to-back Women’s World Cup titles.

Let’s dive right in to the Group C preview.

Remember the Name

Aya Miyama, Japan midfielder

The Japanese team is stacked at midfield and the 30-year old Miyama is the leader of the impressive group. Skillful with the ball at her feet, Miyama is also dangerous when she lets the ball fly, particularly during set plays. Her curling free kick against New Zealand in the 2011 World Cup, the eventual game winner, was one of the prettier goals of the entire tournament.

Japan is very unselfish as a whole, which is why Miyama will be one of the player’s to watch this June and July. Many of the squad’s attacks will begin at her feet thanks to her ability to find the open player on a cross with deadly accuracy. If the Japanese are to repeat as champions, Miyama will need to play just as well as she has in the previous two World Cups.

Group Bully


This one isn’t even close. According to a statistical model developed by FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver, Japan is an essential lock to move on to the knockout stage. There is a 99% chance of the squad moving on, which is like saying that the team will be playing three tune-ups before their actual tournament begins. When you look at the rest of Group C, this makes sense. The three other teams are World Cup newbies, so there will be literally no experience on a stage this caliber for Japan’s competition in group play.

Japan’s chances of moving on actually drop quite significantly after the quarterfinals according to Silver’s model, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that the defending champs will likely look as good as anyone in the tournament through the first three matches.

Group Underdog


La Tricolor isn’t making any excuses, but I’ll go ahead and do it for them. They’re young (15 of the 23 players on the roster are under age 25), inexperienced (Ecuador is making its first Women’s World Cup experience) and face their most evenly matched opponent in the first game, when the excitement and nerves may prevent them from playing their best football. Put simply, Ecuador has a lot of obstacles to overcome if it wants to see the knockout round.

Perhaps the inexperience and youth will be in the team’s favor. It’s been done before and on a similar stage. But that is still the mark of an underdog; I just don’t think they’ll do a whole lot of surprising in the role.

Games to Watch

Japan vs. Switzerland (June 8, 10:00 PM ET – FS1)

Really the only game that Japan may struggle to win. The Swiss haven’t played many matches together lately, however, so sharpness could be a factor.

Switzerland vs. Cameroon (June 16, 5:00 PM ET – FS2)

Cameroon has the best shot of any African nation to advance and this game is likely to play a crucial role in deciding whether or not that happens.

How They’ll Finish (picks in bold move on to the Knockout Stage)

1. Japan – 9 points

2. Switzerland – 4 points

3. Cameroon – 4 points

4. Ecuador – 0 points

– K. Becks

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