For any football fans suffering from withdrawal since the Premier League season ended last month, the wait for more football is nearly over. Tonight the Women’s World Cup kicks off in Canada, with the hosts playing China in the opening match.
The tournament is set to be the largest one yet, reflecting the growth in the women’s game across the world, with 24 teams taking part. Indeed, despite FIFA currently attracting the wrong kind of attention, the tournament is set to be extremely popular. It is expected that there will be one billion TV viewers, and more than 920,000 tickets have been sold.
With all this interest, the next few weeks are going to be pivotal for the popularity of women’s football. Luckily, many teams are in with a chance of winning, which should make for an exciting and competitive tournament. The two main favourites to win, Germany and the USA, are ranked 1st and 2nd in the world and so will obviously be a considerable threat, especially as they have a lot of tournament experience. However, 2011 winners Japan will also be a hard task, as will France. What’s more, with a home crowd behind them, hosts Canada will have a point to prove.
There is also a strong case to be made for England going all the way in the tournament. Under their new manager Mark Sampson, the Three Lions cruised through qualifying, scoring 52 goals and conceding 1. In addition, with many of the players now on professional contracts, they are fitter and stronger than ever before. However, England immediately face a tough opponent, coming up against France in their opening group game. The result and performance in that match will give a good signal as to how the team will fare. Nonetheless, even if that game ends in a defeat for England, they are expected to beat the other two teams in their group, Mexico and Colombia, and so progression is still likely.
Canada vs China kicks off at 11pm tonight, and will hopefully mark the beginning of an entertaining and compelling tournament, one in which England actually have a good chance.
Featured image: Women’s World Cup Logo – en.wikipedia.org