Women's World Cup 2023 group stage: Shock results
Women's World Cup, football

Women’s World Cup 2023 group stage: Shock results

The Women’s World Cup 2023 group stage signalled a sea change in the sport, with a tournament full of shocks highlighting how perennial powerhouses are no longer on a different level.

Germany joined China in failing to make it out of the group for the first time ever, with Brazil falling at that stage for the first time since 1995 and Olympic champions Canada another notable casualty.

Double World Cup-winning coach Jill Ellis confessed she was blown away by the utter unpredictability of the Australia and New Zealand-based tournament, which saw six top-20 sides bow out at the group stage.

“It’s been a doozy so far,” said Ellis, who guided the USA to back-to-back titles in 2015 and 2019 and now heads the tournament’s technical study group.

“I think we all feel this. Gone are the days of total predictability. Progress sits very clearly at the core, and certainly the competitiveness can be felt with giants in the game getting knocked out, we see debutants advance to the next round, which I think lends itself to this being just one of the most unpredictable and arguably exciting World Cups we’ve seen to date.

“If I’m candid, I really am surprised. I think when you suddenly see a Germany or a Brazil get knocked out of a World Cup in the group stage – I don’t think any of us could have predicted that.

“I’m excited by the development, of course, for sure. But I think I was thinking that one more iteration of the World Cup before we started to see even more parity that we’re starting to see right now.”

Here, we look at the key Women’s World Cup 2023 group stage statistics:

The mighty have fallen

Germany beat Morocco 6-0 in their opening game but lost to an injury-time goal for Colombia before drawing with South Korea.

Their eight goals came from only 11 shots on target, while Alexandra Popp’s joint lead in the Golden Boot standings is set to count for nought.

A failure to win back possession may have cost Germany, with only 169 forced turnovers – fewer than any team other than fellow Group H eliminees South Korea as the two lowest-ranked teams in the group progressed.

Germany’s goal difference of plus five is a record for an eliminated team, with only two teams before this tournament knocked out with a positive goal difference.

Brazil, along with Portugal, also joined that list this year after beating Panama 4-0 in their opener. Defeat to France and a draw with Jamaica put paid to the Selecao’s hopes despite 61 shots – trailing only Spain’s 78 – with 37 of them from inside the penalty area, where they scored all of their five goals.

Canada and China’s failures to progress can be pinpointed to specific moments – Canada missing a penalty and China conceding a last-minute winner against the teams who qualified at their expense, respectively Nigeria and Denmark.

Both struggled to produce effective shots though – Canada on target with only 12 out of 41 attempts, which included 11 headers, while 14 of China’s 23 came from outside the penalty area. They had only eight on target and both of their goals came from Wang Shuang penalties.

China covered by far the most distance of any team – over 362 kilometres, 12km more than nearest challengers Japan – but more at walking pace than any team other than Haiti and Colombia.

They were not the only big teams to struggle, with four-time champions the United States scraping through their group before crashing out to Sweden on penalties at the last-16 stage – though Vlatko Andonovski’s side allowed only nine shots to their opponents, seven fewer than any other team and in contrast to the 59 they attempted at the other end.

Stand-out performers

Japan scored 11 goals without reply in winning their three Group C games, including a 4-0 rout of fellow qualifiers Spain.

The two teams led the way for shots on target – Japan with 28 and Spain 29, with the Netherlands (23) and Brazil the only other teams to reach 20. La Roja racked up 46 total attempts in their opening win over Costa Rica alone.

The Dutch, in a tough Group E containing the USA and Portugal, and Sweden each scored nine and conceded one, with England just a goal behind after their rout of China as they and Sweden joined Japan with 100 per cent records.

Switzerland and Jamaica were the only other teams not to concede, the latter impressively holding both France and Brazil to goalless draws and joining South Africa, Nigeria and Morocco as surprise qualifiers.

The Lionesses also possessed one of the stand-out players as Lauren James scored the winner against Denmark then had two goals and three assists against China.

She joined Japan’s Mina Tanaka and South Africa’s Thembi Kgatlana as the only players with multiple goals and assists and was one off the Golden Boot lead of four goals, shared by Tanaka’s team-mate Hinata Miyazawa and the eliminated Popp.

There were hat-tricks for Brazil’s Ary Borges and France’s Kadidiatou Diani, both against Panama, and Norway’s Sophie Roman Haug against the Philippines.

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