Women’s World Cup 2019
After Gareth Southgate’s young England team went so close last summer, attention turns to the Women’s game this year with the 8th FIFA Women’s World Cup in France from Friday 7 June – Sunday 7 July with both England and Scotland qualifying for the tournament.
Manager Phil Neville, the former Manchester United and England defender, is no stranger to international tournaments having made 59 appearances for England over 10 years and featured in 3 European Championships – this, however, is his first world cup tournament of an international career that is now in its 23rd year.
That did not seem faze Neville though as during qualification for this World Cup, the England team were full of confidence riding on the wave of the last 2 tournaments – and it showed! Scoring 29 goals over 8 matches they only conceded 1 goal and finished 5 points clear of 2nd placed Wales.
So much was their dominance they beat nearest rivals Wales 3 – 0 in their penultimate match to seal qualification with a game to spare.
The England team are currently ranked number 3 in the world and are hoping to go at least one better than their 3rd place finish in the last World Cup in 2015.
Things are looking good for England as they followed this up in 2017 with another semi-final appearance, this time in the European Championships.
Making the finals for the first time in their history, Shelley Kerr’s Scotland team did it the hard way. Much like the reputation of the men’s team the Scottish women showed real grit and determination while qualifying, coming from losing a position in 4 of their 7 victories – eventually winning the group by 3 points.
This never say die attitude should help during the final tournament group stages as they face 2 sides ranked considerably higher in England (3rd in the world rankings), and Japan (7th), compared to Scotland’s 20th place ranking.
However, Shelley Kerr inspired her team to score more than 2 goals per game during qualification and with the adrenaline of the World Cup sure to give the team that extra bit of zip who knows how far the team can progress.
This tournament could be a perfect swansong for one of world footballs greatest ever players. At the forefront of the women’s game and lauded as one of the world’s best for over a decade now, Scotland’s attacking midfielder Kim Little will be making her first appearance at a major tournament with Scotland since making her international debut aged 16 – this year we hope she can celebrate her 29th Birthday during the tournament in style.
Her club career has seen her voted Player of the Season in both the USA (2014) and England (2010), BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year (2016) and has won league titles in Scotland, England, USA and Australia. Quite fittingly, she scored vital goals in the final 3 matches during qualification to seal top spot for the Scots at the expense of Switzerland.
Having missed the European Championships in 2017 through injury, Kim Little will no doubt be hoping to be a huge player for Scotland this summer and she knows will probably be her last chance to show the world what she is capable of.
Get Behind the Team
With an initial 3 matches during the group stage, including the mouth-watering tie between England and Scotland there are plenty of opportunities to get behind your team.
Once again, each and every match is available for free on the BBC either online or on TV – for a full run down of the matches and how to watch them see the fixture list displayed on the BBC website.