The club world cup is undergoing a shake up currently that will see the competition go from seven teams to twenty four starting from 2021. The competition will run every four years and include eight teams from Europe, six from South America, three each from Africa, Asia and North America and one from Oceania, however Many European heavyweights have threatened to boycott.
Being held in the summer months this would significantly impact the European calendar as it would mean players would have to finish a long gruelling season only to have to play more games in the time they should be resting and recuperating.
The European Club Association (ECA) have written a letter to Uefa saying they are firmly against the idea and confirmed that no ECA clubs would be involved. With the potential lack of European clubs this instantly devalues the competition, as how can you have a Club World Cup without arguably the strongest sides in the world?
To further increase the backlash the first edition will be held in China, a place that has seen a multitude of protests and other issues over the past 12 months and right now is in no position to be hosting a global sporting event.
With all its issues and problems, the basic idea of having an expanded Club World Cup featuring all the best teams across the globe to determine who is the best team on the planet sounds good on paper. But logistically the tournament is always going to struggle as long as the different continents have their own football calendars.
The current tournament is well respected outside of Europe and is seen as a very big deal, it has just simply never interested European fans and has often been seen as a distraction to the domestic and Continental campaigns.
After an already shaky beginning can the expanded Club World Cup survive? and possibly outgrow its previous forms?
The England Women’s Football team are in action at the World Cup in France and are one of the favourites for the tournament being ranked 3rd in the World. They have got maximum points from the two opening group games from a 2-1 win over Scotland and 1-0 success over Argentina. These 2 wins should have been more comfortable with England being guilty of stepping of the gas in second half against Scotland and missing chances against Argentina, including a first half penalty which was saved by the excellent argentine goalkeeper Vanina Correa.
They now head into a group decider against Japan on Wednesday night where a point would be enough to top the group, meanwhile Scotland will have to win and hope to qualify as one of the best 3rd place sides. England will have to improve if they are to go all the way particularly in their conversation of chances and openings, they had numerous opportunities where the final ball or shot was not good enough against Argentina.
So who holds the key for England? I have been impressed with winger Nikita Parris she scored a penalty against Scotland and then missed one against Argentina and has generally looked England’s most creative outlet. Her partnership with Lucy Bronze (world’s best player according to Phil Neville) on England’s right flank has been outlined as England’s major weapon. They showed why against the Scots However the left sided combination of Mead and Greenwood were the source of many England attacks vs Argentina.
Jodie Taylor has a fantastic scoring record at championships having scored five times at Euro 2017 where England reached the semi-finals and once at the 2015 World Cup, where England finished third, she once again showed she has an appetite for the big occasion as it was her who got the winner against Argentina. The goal came following a rare attack from the argentines which left space for England to counter attack and put together a flowing move which led to Taylor’s goal and the 33-year-old, who had not scored since a World Cup qualifier in April 2018 – or in 363 minutes of football – celebrated her 18th England goal with enthusiasm.
Steph Haughton and Jill Scott provide the leadership and toughness whilst Fran Kirby is a big creative talent in the number 10 role. Fran disappointed slightly against Scotland however tuned in a much brighter performance against Argentina.
Manager Phil Neville has caused controversy by adopting a rotation system, even leaving out long term goalkeeper Karen Bardsley in favour of Carly Telford in Argentina match. Neville does have strong squad depth with players of the ilk of Karen Carney, Ellen White and Toni Duggan waiting to make their mark. Carney is the longest-serving player in the squad, having made her debut 14 years ago. She’s played in 32 games at major tournaments – more than any other England player, male or female and is a creative alternative. Duggan has returned to full training after missing victories over Scotland and Argentina but is available to face Japan and is one of England’s biggest talents earing her a move to Barcelona. White started against Scotland in favour of Taylor and showed her scoring touch by doubling the lead.
If England win the group, they take on the best third-placed side from either Group B, E or F (currently China, Cameroon or Chile). A quarter-final in Le Havre would be next in store against the winner of a match between the runners-up of Group A and Group C (currently Norway and Australia). If the Lionesses finish runners-up in the group, they take on the winner of Group E which is likely to be Canada or the Netherlands in Rennes. A quarter-final in Valenciennes would follow against either the winner of Group C (Brazil, Italy or Australia) or the best third-placed team from Groups A (Norway/Nigeria), B (Spain/China) or F (likely Chile).
The other major contenders for the trophy are USA who are ranked 1st in the world and won 13-0 against Thailand, Hosts France and Germany have gained a maximum 9 points from their groups. Brazil have the record scorer at the Women’s World Cup and possibly the greatest women’s players of all time. However lost to Australia and could face elimination if they lose to group leaders Italy and the Netherlands are the European Champions.
With the recent success of England’s Lionesses in the SheBelieves Cup, the future of Women’s football looks bright. On International Women’s Day (8th March 2019) we reflect on how the game has grown and the future of the game on a global scale.
The women’s game has been kicking around for longer than most know, with the first game being played in 1895 before the commencement of the FA ban; preventing women from playing on any football league grounds in 1921. This didn’t stop the popularity increasing, and before long the Women’s Football Association (WFA) of 1969 was formed with 44 newly organised clubs. The prevalence of the game has only increased, with the recent restructuring of the Women’s Soccer League.
The recent changes saw 11 teams including the likes of Manchester City Women, Chelsea Women and Yeovil Town Ladies FC become professional with clear academy pathways and set contracted hours for all players – something that became compulsory to obtain an FA License. Katie Brazier, head of the FA’s women’s leagues and competitions expressed how the “changes will continue the journey to transform key elements of the women’s game” and will “provide an elite performance environment that will produce more and better players, increase the interest and excitement via a more competitive league and attract a greater number of fans” – a crucial component of professional football needed to elevate the women’s game.
Phil Neville, head coach of the England Women’s Team has recently spoken out following the Lionesses 3-0 success over Japan in the SheBelieves Cup. He believes “the future for English women’s football is absolutely amazing” owing to the emphasis on youth pathways and success at recent competitions (2019 SheBelieves Cup; U20s finishing 3rd in the 2018 World Cup). Alongside the new professionalism in the Women’s leagues, Neville now considers there are “8-10 world-class players in the women’s senior team”. With the upcoming World Cup this summer and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics looming, is there any stopping the Lionesses in their bid to become the best team in the world?
Do you think the Lionesses can win the 2019 Women’s World Cup?
The invitational women’s football tournament starts this Wednesday, and will see the English National team pitted against the world’s best.
Phil Neville’s England side travel to the US this February for the 4th edition of the annual cup. This year’s tournament sees England, United States, Japan and Brazil go head-to-head in a round-robin format where points are awarded for the teams in a group stage.
The tournament is a great chance for fans to see some of the world’s best teams face off before the 2019 World Cup in France this summer. All 4 competitors of the tournament are currently placed in the top 10 FIFA rankings, with the US currently leading affairs as the best ranked team in the world.
England will be hoping to win their first SheBelieves title this February, but will face fierce competition from World Cup winners US as they attempt to win the title for a 3rd time.
Japan and Brazil are competing in the cup for the first time, replacing France and Germany who had competed in all of the previous SheBelieves competitions. Japan enter the tournament with the best run of form, having won their past 5 games, and the Asian side will be a primary point of interest for Phil Neville and co. as England are set to face Japan in group D of the World Cup this summer.
Phil Neville’s first game in charge of the team came in last year’s competition, where he oversaw England’s 4-1 triumph over France. But the Lionesses will want to improve upon last years efforts when they kick off the tournament this Wednesday and bring home a trophy and a confidence boost before the World Cup.
England’s first match takes place tomorrow night in Pennsylvania as they take on newcomers, Brazil. This saturday they take on holders, United States before capping off the competition against Japan on the 5th March.
Can the Lionesses impress in America and win the SheBelieves Cup?