Eleven Chelsea Women representatives across six different countries competed in the Women’s World Cup in France this summer, with the vast majority of them heading back to Chelsea ahead of our season-opener against Spurs at Stamford Bridge…
The eighth edition of the Women’s World Cup took place between 7 June and 7 July with 24 countries competing across eight beautiful French cities. The tournament was a huge success that reached new heights with regards to stadium attendance numbers and TV viewing figures, not to mention the inspiring effect it has had on millions of people around the world. England’s semi-final clash against the USA was watched by 11.7 million UK viewers, making it the most-watched British television broadcast of the year. TV records have also been broken across the globe, including in France, the United States, Germany and China.
Six of our Blues helped their nations reach the semi-finals of the tournament, and two others progressed to the quarter-final. Below is a round-up of how all our players got on with their respective countries…
The free allocation of tickets for Chelsea Women v Tottenham Women on Sunday 8 September has sold out, but there is now a waiting list to be notified if more tickets become available.
England were dubbed as one of the favourites before the tournament began, but they stumbled at the penultimate hurdle when they lost 2-1 to the USA which denied them a place in a final of a major tournament for the third consecutive time. They finished in fourth place as they were defeated 2-1 by Sweden in the third-place play-off match. However, the Lionesses’ fourth-placed finish has ensured that Great Britain will have a women’s football team at the 2020 Olympics.
The Lionesses had four Blues players; Karen Carney, Fran Kirby, Millie Bright and Carly Telford. Carney, who announced her retirement from football on Friday, featured as a substitute in the final stages of all the group stage games and the third-place play-off match against Sweden.
Kirby took on the playmaker role and operated behind the front three. She played in six out of the seven matches and scored one goal throughout the tournament, in the match for third place. Bright played in five out of seven games but the centre-back, who took part in her first World Cup, was suspended for the third-place play-off as she received two yellow cards and was sent off in the semi-final against the USA. Goalkeeper Telford made her first ever World Cup finals start in their 1-0 win over Argentina and then played in between the sticks against the US and Sweden.
England topped Group D after winning three out of three games. Their first match was against neighbours Scotland when they narrowly won 2-1. Although Argentina put up a fight in their second game, England ran away with the points and guaranteed a knockout spot with one match remaining. The Lionesses’ final group match was against Japan, and a 2-0 victory resulted in topping Group D with maximum points.
Their next test was against Cameroon in the Round of 16 match, and despite a highly dramatic game that heavily involved VAR, England came out on top with a 3-0 victory. The Lionesses progressed to the semi-final after an emphatic 3-0 win against Norway; however England’s hopes of reaching the World Cup final came crashing down when the USA clinched a 2-1 victory in front of 53,512 spectators. After the hurt and disappointment from their semi-final loss, the Lionesses had five days to dust themselves off and prepare for their third-place play-off game against Sweden.
Scotland and Erin Cuthbert entered the tournament as debutantes and were unlucky not to progress out of the group stages after suffering two 2-1 defeats to England and Japan, as well as drawing 3-3 with Argentina. The Scots were leading by three goals against the Argentinians, with Cuthbert being one of the goal scorers, and this meant that they were on course to advance to the last-16 as one of the best third-place teams. However, a sudden lapse of concentration resulted in Argentina pulling three goals back in the last 15 minutes of the match to eliminate Scotland.
Sweden took home the bronze medal for the third time in their World Cup history after beating the Lionesses 2-1 in match 51. This also qualified them for a place at the Olympic along with England and the Netherlands, who make up the three European teams at the games.
Blues defenders Magdalena Eriksson and Jonna Andersson were part of Sweden’s World Cup squad, and so was Hedvig Lindahl, who departed from us before the tournament. Eriksson played in six out of seven matches, Andersson featured in two and Lindahl played in between the sticks for every game.
The Scandinavians finished as runners-up in Group F behind the four-time winners and 2019 champions, the USA. Their opening match was against Chile, and they were held for 83 minutes before finding a breakthrough and finishing as eventual 2-0 winners. Sweden’s second game ended in a comfortable 5-1 victory over Thailand, and that saw them seal a place in the final 16. Next up was the USA, a team they have faced off against in the group stages of each of the last four finals. The Americans picked up their first competitive win over Sweden for 12 years after an early goal and an own-goal scored by our Andersson.
The Swedes’ Round of 16 match was against Canada and Sweden progressed to the quarter-final after they edged past the North Americans and Lindahl pulled off a brilliant penalty save to secure a 1-0 victory. After 24 years without a win against Germany, Sweden booked a semi-final ticket when they came from behind to beat the two-time champions 2-1. Like England, Sweden were so close to reaching the World Cup final but failed at the last step. It took extra-time for their semi-final clash against the Netherlands to be decided, and the Dutch ended up as winners when they unlocked Sweden’s stern defence in the first half of extra-time. The Scandinavians were adamant they were not going home empty-handed, and two early goals, plus resolute defending was enough to keep a hungry Lionesses team at bay to take away the bronze.
Chelsea’s Maren Mjelde and Maria Thorisdottir played as the centre-back pairing for the Scandinavian side in all five of their World Cup matches and overall were a great defensive partnership. Guro Reiten, Chelsea’s newest attacking midfielder, featured in all matches too.
The Norwegians came second in Group A behind hosts France with two wins and one loss. In their opening game, they came away with three points after a commanding 3-0 victory over Nigeria. They then faced France and lost 2-1, but managed to secure their second win of the tournament when they beat South Korea by two goals to one. Norway’s Round of 16 match ended all square after 90 minutes which resulted in extra-time and penalties. Captain Mjelde stepped up to take a spot-kick, contributing to her team’s 4-1 triumph on penalties. However, Norway exited the competition at the quarter-final stage when England proved too strong for them.
Ali Riley’s New Zealand were confident they would register their first ever Women’s World Cup win this year after strong warm-up friendlies, including 1-0 wins over England and Norway. However, Riley and the Football Ferns were left frustrated after failing to get the victory despite coming close in all three group stage matches.
Their opening Group E match ended in a 1-0 defeat to this year’s finalists the Netherlands, and the Ferns then fell short to Canada who netted two goals with no reply. Going into the final game against Cameroon, there was a lot at stake as a win would have meant it was possible for them to progress to the Round of 16. However, it was not to be as the Africans secured the winner in the 95th minute and the game finished 2-1.
South Korea and Ji So-Yun had a tough time when they faced the tournament hosts France in the curtain opener in Paris, and two goals for Les Bleues either side of the break resulted in a heavy defeat for the Asians. Their second match-up in Group A was against a physical Nigeria, and despite creating some good chances, the Super Falcons came away with a 2-0 win which was helped by a South Korean own-goal.
In Ji’s final game, she went up against her Norwegian team-mates who confirmed South Korea’s exit from the tournament after scoring two penalties early in each half, despite the Asian side scoring a consolation goal late on in the encounter.
Chelsea Women’s first Barclays Women’s Super League fixture of the 2019/20 season has been announced, and the Blues are set to play newly-promoted Tottenham Hotspur Women on Sunday 8 September at Stamford Bridge.
The free allocation to watch of our players who starred in the Women’s World Cup in action in this London derby is sold out but a waiting list is open.