Three FIFA windows have given the 24 Women's World Cup finalists plenty of chances to see how they shape up for France '19, which begins in two months.
Fourteen teams played during all
three windows. With Cameroon's trip to China for a four-team tournament, all 24 finalists played in at least window. Thailand and Argentina only played full internationals at tournaments during the
late February-early March break, but Argentina used the April break to tour Utah and Nevada for a series of games against college teams.
The international results give us an opportunity
to rank all 24 teams. They are based only on 2019 results and take into account the strength of the opposition.
(In parentheses is the overall record -- won-lost-tied -- and record
against World Cup finalists.)
1. Germany (2-0-1, 2-0-1) 1-0 at France (friendly) 2-1 at Sweden (friendly) 2-2
vs. Japan (friendly)
Since Steffi Jones was fired in March 2018, Germany hasn't lost, a span of 11 games. It would have beaten Japan on Tuesday but for a pair of howlers by keeper
Almuth Schult. Head coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg, who took charge in January, gave 17-year-old midfielder Sophie Oberdorf her first start in the game played in Paderborn.
2. France (4-1-0, 2-1-0) 3-1 vs. USA (friendly) 0-1 vs. Germany (friendly) 6-0 vs. Uruguay (friendly) 3-1 vs.
Japan (friendly) 4-0 vs. Denmark (friendly)
The French media have jumped on Women's World Cup bandwagon, and they were raving about 22-year-old Delphine Cascarino, who was
sensational with two goals in Monday's 4-0 win over Denmark.
3. USA (4-1-2, 3-1-2) 1-3 at France (friendly) 1-0 at
Spain (friendly) 2-2 vs. Japan (SheBelieves Cup) 2-2 vs. England (SheBelieves Cup) 1-0 vs. Brazil (SheBelieves Cup) 5-3 vs. Australia (friendly) 6-0 vs. Belgium
The big concern remains on the defensive side. The USA has given up 10 goals in seven games -- as many goals as it allowed in all of 2018 (20 games).
4. Canada (4-0-2, 4-0-1) 1-0 vs. Norway (friendly) 0-0 vs. Iceland (Algarve Cup) 1-0 vs. Scotland (Algarve Cup) 0-0 vs.
Sweden (Algarve Cup) 1-0 at England (friendly) 2-1 vs. Nigeria (friendly)
Christine Sinclair now has 180 goals, just five shy of Abby Wambach's world record. She
didn't score against Nigeria, but set up Janine Beckie for the tying goal early in the second half and had a shot cleared off the line late in the game.
5. England (3-1-1, 3-1-1) 2-1 vs. Brazil (SheBelieves Cup) 2-2 at USA (SheBelieves Cup) 3-0 vs. Japan (SheBelieves Cup) 0-1 vs. Canada
(friendly) 2-1 vs. Spain (friendly)
The Lionesses won the SheBelieves Cup for the first time in four appearances in March. They beat Spain, 2-1, in Swindon and could have won by
more but for head coach Phil Neville's planned substitutions in the second half designed to test his backline.
6. Japan (1-2-2,
1-2-2) 2-2 at USA (SheBelieves Cup) 3-1 vs. Brazil (SheBelieves Cup) 0-3 vs. England (SheBelieves Cup) 1-3 at France (friendly) 2-2 at Germany (friendly)
Japan's upset bid in Paderborn was ruined when goalkeeper Chika Hirao gifted Germany's Svenja Huth the tying goal after she failed to hold on to a cross.
7. Australia (3-1-0,
3-1-0) 2-0 vs. New Zealand (FFA Cup of Nations) 4-1 vs. South Korea (FFA Cup of Nations) 3-0 vs. Argentina (FFA Cup of Nations) 3-5 at USA (friendly)
New coach Ante Milicic couldn't criticize the effort of the Matildas in their 5-3 loss to the USA. He kept them together in camp after the game for training. The goal: "We're going to work ever
so hard so we have the opportunity and the right to meet this USA team again deep in the tournament in France."
8. Norway (4-2-0,
2-2-0) 3-1 vs. Scotland (friendly) 0-1 vs. Canada (friendly) 2-1 vs. Denmark (Algarve Cup) 3-1 vs. China (Algarve Cup) 3-0 vs. Poland (Algarve Cup)
0-1 vs. New Zealand (friendly)
Norway swept its three games to win the Algarve Cup for a fifth time but 21 years after its last tournament triumph in 1998. Caroline Graham Hansen,
who missed the 2015 World Cup with a knee injury, was the Algarve Cup MVP.
9. Spain (3-3-1, 2-2-0) 1-1 vs. Belgium (friendly) 0-1 vs. USA (friendly) 2-0 vs. Netherlands (Algarve Cup) 0-3 vs. Poland (Algarve Cup) 2-0 vs. Switzerland (Algarve Cup) 2-1 vs. Brazil (friendly) 1-2 at England (friendly)
Aitana Bonmati, who played for Spain's 2018
Under-20 World Cup runner-up team, had the lone goal in the 2-1 loss to England after goals from Alexia Putellas and Virginia Torrecilla gave La Roja a comeback win against Brazil. 10. Italy (6-0-2, 2-0-0) 2-1 vs. Chile (friendly) 2-0 vs. Wales (friendly) 5-0 vs. Mexico (Cyprus Cup) 3-0
vs. Hungary (Cyprus Cup) 4-1 vs. Thailand (Cyprus Cup) 3-3 vs. North Korea (Cyprus Cup) 1-1 at Poland (friendly) 2-1 vs. Ireland (friendly)
Italian men's national
team coach Roberto Mancini was on hand in Reggio Emilia to watch Le Azzurre rally to beat Ireland, 2-1, and remain unbeaten in 2019 thanks to goals by Barbara Bonansea and Daniela
11. Sweden (2-2-2, 0-1-2) 0-0 at South Africa (friendly) 4-1 vs. Switzerland (Algarve Cup) 1-2
at Portugal (Algarve Cup) 0-0 vs. Canada (Algarve Cup) 1-2 vs. Germany (friendly) 2-0 at Austria (friendly)
The Sweden-Germany game set a Swedish women's attendance
record as 25,882 turned out at Stockholm's Friends Arena for the game. The Swedes were unlucky not to earn a draw, having two shots cleared off the line after captain Caroline Seger drew them
to within one goal on a penalty kick in the 72nd minute.
12. Netherlands (3-2-1, 2-1-1) 2-1 at South Africa (friendly) 0-2 vs. Spain (Algarve Cup) 0-1 vs. Poland (Algarve Cup) 1-1 vs. China (Algarve Cup) 2-0 vs. Mexico (friendly) 7-0 vs. Chile (friendly)
The Oranje, the reigning
European champion, struggled at the Algarve Cup, beating China in a shootout to avoid last place, but it rolled over Mexico and Chile. Against Chile, Arsenal's Danielle van de Donk needed only
28 minutes to complete her hat trick and she finished with four goals.
13. China (4-2-1, 3-1-1) 1-0 vs. South Korea (Four
Nations Tournament) 3-0 vs. Nigeria (Four Nations Tournament) 1-3 vs. Norway (Algarve Cup) 0-1 vs. Denmark (Algarve Cup) 1-1 vs. Netherlands (Algarve Cup) 4-1 vs. Russia
(Wuhan International Tournament) 1-0 vs. Cameroon (Wuhan International Tournament)
The Chinese results have been a mixed bag. They swept all four games in a pair of four-team
tournaments they hosted, but they finished last in the 12-team Algarve Cup in March. Coach Jia Xiuquan’s experimenting was blamed for the poor showing in Portugal.
14. South Korea (3-3-1, 2-2-0) 0-1 at China (Four Nations Tournament) 3-0 vs. Romania (Four Nations Tournament) 5-0 vs.
Argentina (FFA Cup of Nations) 1-4 at Australia (FFA Cup of Nations) 2-0 vs. New Zealand (FFA Cup of Nations) 2-3 vs. Iceland (friendly) 1-1 vs. Iceland (friendly)
Chelsea star Ji So-yun salvaged a draw for South Korea in its second meeting with Iceland in Chunchoen on Tuesday, but the Koreans were let down by poor finishing in both games against
15. New Zealand (2-2-0, 2-2-0) 0-2 at Australia (FFA Cup of Nations) 2-0 vs. Argentina (FFA Cup of
Nations) 0-2 vs. South Korea (FFA Cup of Nations) 1-0 vs. Norway (friendly)
Rosie White's goal in the third minute -- her 24th goal in 99 matches -- earned the Football
Ferns their first victory over Norway since 1981. Coach Tom Sermanni termed the win "a phenomenal team performance." A meeting four days earlier with Norway in Marbella -- a 1-0 loss -- was a
16. Scotland (3-3-1, 1-2-1) 1-3 vs. Norway (friendly) 1-2 vs. Iceland (friendly) 0-1 vs. Canada
(Algarve Cup) 4-1 vs. Iceland (Algarve Cup) 1-0 vs. Denmark (Algarve Cup) 1-1 vs. Chile (friendly) 1-0 vs. Brazil (friendly)
Kim Little teamed up with
Lizzie Arnot to score a fantastic goal on a counterattack and give the Scots the victory over Brazil, extending their unbeaten streak to four games.
17. Jamaica (2-0-1,
2-0-1) 1-0 vs. Chile (friendly) 3-2 vs. Chile (friendly) 1-1 at South Africa (friendly)
After sweeping Chile at home in a pair of friendlies in March, the
Reggae Girlz traveled to Durban, South Africa, where they tied the host Banyana Banyana on Sunday thanks to Bunny Shaw's second-half goal. Before heading to Europe, the Girlz will get a
farewell game on May 19 against Panama whom they beat in the Concacaf third-place game on penalty kicks to clinch their first trip to the World Cup.
18. South Africa (0-4-3, 0-1-2) 1-2 vs. Netherlands (friendly) 0-0 vs. Sweden (friendly) 2-2 vs. Finland (Cyprus Cup) 1-4 vs. North Korea (Cyprus
Cup) 1-2 vs. Czech Republic (Cyprus Cup) 0-3 vs. Finland (Cyprus Cup) 1-1 vs. Jamaica (friendly)
South Africa had a chance to win its first game of the year against
Jamaica on Sunday but Leandra Smeda's penalty kick hit the crossbar. Interest in the Banyana Banyana is growing. They drew 16,000 fans in Cape Town in January for a friendly against the
Netherlands. One estimate put Sunday's crowd at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban at 30,000.
19. Brazil (0-5-0, 0-5-0)
1-2 vs. England (SheBelieves Cup) 1-3 vs. Japan (SheBelieves Cup) 0-1 at USA (SheBelieves Cup) 1-2 at Spain (friendly) 0-1 vs. Scotland (friendly)
schedule has been brutal -- the toughest any finalist has had except its three opponents at the SheBelieves Cup -- but its losing streak is now at nine games, dating back to its 4-1 loss to the USA at
the 2018 Tournament of Nations. All nine losses have come on the road against World Cup finalists -- the USA and England twice and Canada, France, Japan, Spain and Scotland once.
20. Nigeria (3-4-0, 1-2-0) 4-1 vs. Romania (Four Nations Tournament) 0-3 at China (Four Nations Tournament) 1-4 vs. Austria
(Cyprus Cup) 4-3 vs. Slovakia (Cyprus Cup) 0-1 vs. Belgium (Cyprus Cup) 3-0 vs. Thailand (Cyprus Cup) 1-2 vs. Canada (friendly)
Nigeria, which has qualified for
all eight editions of the World Cup, has often struggled at the finals because of lack of preparation. That won't be the case this time. Former Sweden coach Thomas Dennerby has already taken
the Super Falcons on trips to China, Cyprus and Spain for camps.
(0-4-1, 0-4-1) 1-2 at Italy (friendly) 0-1 at Jamaica (friendly) 2-3 at Jamaica (friendly) 1-1 vs. Scotland (friendly) 0-7 at Netherlands (friendly)
Since clinching its first trip to the Women's World Cup by finishing second at the Copa America Femenina that it hosted, Chile has traveled the world, playing warmup matches in the United States,
Australia, Italy, Jamaica and Spain. Its 1-1 tie with Scotland was its best result since a 3-2 win over Australia in November.
Thailand (1-3-0, 0-2-0) 4-0 vs. Austria (Cyprus Cup) 1-2 vs. Mexico (Cyprus Cup) 1-4 vs. Italy (Cyprus Cup) 0-3 vs. Nigeria (Cyprus Cup)
shortly before the Cyprus Cup, former Houston Dash coach Vera Pauw was named technical adviser to Thailand head coach Nuengruthai Srathongvian.
23. Cameroon (1-1-0, 0-1-0) 2-1 vs. Croatia (Wuhan International Tournament) 0-1 at China (Wuhan International Tournament)
than never, the Indomitable Lionesses played their first warmup games when they traveled to China for two friendlies. Alain Djeumfa was only appointed head coach in late January. Before last
week's trip to China, Cameroon had gathered for a three-week camp in Yaounde.
24. Argentina (0-3-0) 0-5 vs. South Korea
(FFA Cup of Nations) 0-2 vs. New Zealand (FFA Cup of Nations) 0-3 at Australia (FFA Cup of Nations)
Argentina just wrapped up its four-game swing through Utah and Nevada,
where it split with a trio of Division I teams -- BYU (1-1), Utah Valley (3-1) and UNLV (0-1) -- before picking up a 6-0 win over the College of Southern Nevada, a JC program.