2023 World Cup Preview: Group F Guide
David Fitzgerald/Getty. Pictured: Eugenie Le Sommer.
The 2023 Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand is set to get underway, and our soccer experts are here to provide you with a full preview.
Read on for analysis of Group F in the tournament, featuring Brazil, France, Jamaica and Panama.
Brazil legend Marta is likely playing in her sixth and final World Cup, and the 37-year-old may go down as the greatest women's player in history. She's scored 115 goals in 174 career appearances for the Brazilian National Team and now she's tasked with bridging the gap between generations. Brazil had no issue rolling through South America and beating all of the inferior teams in that confederation en route to yet another Copa America title.
As a result of the changing generations, Brazil don't have a ton of peak age players. They have a bunch of talented youngsters about to break into their peak ages and a few players post-peak. The biggest strength of Brazil during qualifying was their set piece efficiency going forward and their pressing and ball recoveries when playing without the ball.
Marta has 17 career World Cup goals — the most ever — and is the last of the legendary trio of Formiga and Cristiane from elite generations past. She's probably not going to start every match but her super-sub presence and veteran leadership is still of value to this young and up-and-coming core of Brazilian attackers.
Brazil are in the top eight in the Elo ratings. That's six spots behind France, the favored team to win this group. Their form coming into this World Cup has been up and down overall, with losses to Canada and USA in the SheBelieves Cup surrounded by wins against Japan and Germany. They had no issues wining the Copa America in 2022 and in 2021 they lost on penalties to Canada in the quarterfinals of the Olympics.
Brazil are a step below the top contenders in overall talent level, but are capable of playing with any team in the world on their best day. They'll be a real test for France at the top of this group.
Not only did France wow the internet with Orange's pre-tournament viral advertisement, but Les Bleues have a new manager to lead them down under. Hervé Renard coached Saudi Arabia in Qatar to one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history, beating eventual champion Argentina 2-1 in the first match of their World Cup. Renard showed astute tactical flexibility from match to match, even though Saudi Arabia failed to qualify from the group.
Many French players asked the French soccer federation to fire Corinne Diacre and the federation found one of the most respected international managers in the world to replace her. Renard has a ton of talent at his disposal and is bringing striker Eugenie Le Sommer back into the fold. Le Sommer is one of the best all-around forwards, even at age 34. Her link-up play and goal scoring output remains elite for club and she'll be the focal point of the French side in Australia.
Orange’s ad for the French national team ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup is genius!🔥🔥pic.twitter.com/5Aiep3hNSf
— Steve Ruigu Njuguna (@Joashnjuguna) July 16, 2023
Renard has led Zambia and Ivory Coast to success in the AFCON on the men's side and helped set the foundation for Morocco's semifinal run when he managed them at the 2018 World Cup. There were questions about how he'd transition to the women's game, but three wins in four friendlies (including wins against Canada by one and Colombia/Ireland by three goals) have France playing at their best.
The talent has never been a question for France. In 2019, France outplayed the United States most of the match in a 2-1 defeat. France had a dominant 2022 Euros — including a 1-0 thrashing of the Netherlands — before losing a coin flip to Germany in the semifinal. With Diacre's tumultuous tenure over in March, Renard has had enough time to get his team on the right page.
Center back Wendie Renard (no relation) is one of the most trusted defenders at the entire tournament, and she should stabilize France in their possession-first system. There's no glaring weakness for Les Bleues entering this tournament.
Jamaica's World Cup campaign didn't go well in 2019, but they're not the worst team in their group on paper in 2023. Bunny Shaw is one of the most prolific attackers in the entire tournament after she finished with 20 goals and seven assists in the Women's Super League with Manchester City last season. Shaw is an excellent do-everything attacker as she also contributes in build-up, but Jamaica have to avoid isolating her in their very defensive set-up.
They haven't been able to get her on the ball enough against top competition in the past.
Jamaica have had some really poor results when facing World Cup level competition. Shaw has scored a ton of goals against vastly inferior island nations in her career, but they lost 5-0 to Italy, 4-1 to Australia and 4-0 to the United States within the last year. Last summer they lost 5-0 to Italy, 4-1 to Australia, 3-0 to Canada and 4-0 to the United States.
They lost to South Korea and split two contests with Paraguay in pre-World Cup friendlies. The World Cup in 2019 ended with three defeats and a -11 goal differential, but Jamaica did produce 1.0 xG in contests with Australia and Brazil.
Shaw will give them a chance to score goals against anyone, but the defensive talent is really lacking to remain competitive in matches with Brazil and France. Jamaica will be favored to win their first ever World Cup match when facing off against Panama, however.
Panama have the longest odds of any team to win the entire tournament. They are one of the eight newcomers to the World Cup after qualifying via the intercontinental playoffs. They beat Papua New Guinea and Paraguay to advance to Australia and likely wouldn't have qualified in the previous 24-team format.
They have one of the youngest average ages in the entire field at just 24.6 years old, and while they've had some good wins against weaker competition, they haven't fared well against fellow World Cup opponents. Spain beat them 7-0 and Japan beat them 5-0 in recent friendlies. It's a very defensive set up that is likely to feature a lot of long balls, but you can expect Panama to be under constant pressure to defend their penalty area and block a lot of shots.
Even though Panama's goalkeeper Yenith Bailey is a real strength of the team and she's a plus-shot stopper, she's likely to be under constant pressure the entire group stage, especially against Brazil and France. They typically set up in a 5-4-1 low block and try to clog the middle of the penalty area with defenders, but that leaves them susceptible in wide areas to constant crossing into the penalty area.
Most of their squad plays domestically in Central America and will see a huge step up in competition. Any result or point at all would be a success for Panama in this World Cup.
Group C Schedule
|July 23||6 a.m. ET||France vs. Jamaica|
|July 24||7 a.m. ET||Brazil vs. Panama|
|July 29||6 a.m. ET||France vs. Brazil|
|July 29||8:30 a.m. ET||Panama vs. Jamaica|
|Aug. 2||6 a.m. ET||Panama vs. France|
|Aug. 2||6 a.m. ET||Jamaica vs. Brazil|