World's Best Women's XI
With the women’s international calendar set-up, there is a three-year long “dark” period between major worldwide international competitions after an Olympic year. The summers of 2011 and 2012 were filled with excitement for women’s football fans with the Women’s World Cup and Olympic football tournament in back-to-back years, but now there is the long wait until the 2015 World Cup.
With over 18 months to go until the next major tournament, here is the World’s Best XI.
Goalkeeper: Hope Solo
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2013 Ballon d’Or finalist and German goalkeeper Nadine Angerer can make a heck of a case for the honors here, having saved two penalties in the 2013 Euro final, but American Hope Solo is still the best keeper in the world.
Simply, Solo can do things in the net that no other female keeper in the world can. She is excellent off her line, excellent on balls served into her area and is an excellent shot-stopper. There isn’t a better or more well-rounded goalie out there.
Solo won both the Golden Glove and Bronze Ball at the 2011 World Cup as the best keeper and third-best player in the tournament, respectively, and helped lead the United States women’s national team to Olympic gold in 2012.
Defender: Wendie Renard
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French defender Wendie Renard has won five Division 1 championships in France with Lyon, won back-to-back Champions League titles in 2011 and 2012 (scoring the game-winning goal in 2011) and made the 2013 European Championship All-Tournament Team.
Defender: Christie Rampone
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Christie Rampone is nearing the end of her career, but she is still one of the best around. She has played in four World Cups; helping the U.S. to four straight top-three finishes and has helped the U.S. to Olympic gold medals in 2004, 2008 and 2012. She also captains the USWNT—the No. 1 team in the world.
Defender: Nilla Fischer
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Swede Nilla Fischer, a converted midfielder, helped Sweden to the semifinals of the 2013 European Championship this summer and scored three goals in the tournament to win the Silver Boot. She was also named to the All-Tournament Team and is a finalist for the 2013 Ballon d’Or.
Midfielder: Carli Lloyd
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American Carli Lloyd is a two-time Olympic gold medal winner and scored the game-winning goals in both the 2008 and 2012 Olympic finals. The versatile two-way midfielder currently has 162 caps for the USWNT.
Midfielder: Homare Sawa
Although Japanese footballing legend Homare Sawa retired from international football after the 2012 Olympics, she is still one of the best players in world football. She was the 2011 FIFA World Player of the Year and won both the Golden Boot and Golden Ball at the 2011 World Cup. In the 2011 final, she scored in the 117th minute to send the game into penalties—which Japan won.
In 2012, she led Japan to the silver medal at the Olympic games.
Midfielder: Dzsenifer Marozsan
Probably the least well-known player on this list, German midfielder Dzsenifer Marozsan is phenom who is quickly making a name for herself in the women’s game. She emerged in last fall’s U-20 World Cup where she won the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player and quickly worked her way into the full German squad.
Last October, she scored two goals against the USWNT in a 2-2 draw in America and this past summer helped Germany to the European Championship. She made the All-Tournament Team and scored the winning goal against Sweden in the semifinals to put Germany in the championship game.
Midfielder: Louisa Necib
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French playmaker Louisa Necib has five Division 1 titles with Lyon and won back-to-back Champions League titles in 2011 and 2012. In the 2013 European Championships, she won the Bronze Ball and was named to the All-Tournament Team.
Midfielder: Megan Rapinoe
American midfielder Megan Rapinoe often gets overlooked because she is overshadowed by two of her own teammates in Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach. However, Rapinoe is every bit as good as Morgan and Wambach, and some might argue, even better.
Rapinoe has the ability to bring her game to another level, a level few, if any, players in the world can match. Her thunderstrike against Canada in the 2012 Olympic semifinals helped the U.S. work its way back from behind and fans of the USWNT are well aware of her ability to produce jaw-dropping goals on a regular basis.
Rapinoe also assisted on Wambach’s iconic goal against Brazil in the 2011 World Cup quarterfinals with a perfect 50-yard cross-field pass directly to Wambach’s head in the 122nd minute.
Forward: Alex Morgan
Although Alex Morgan is still a relative newbie on the international soccer scene, having only really emerged at the 2011 World Cup, she has been a game-changer for the USWNT ever since.
Morgan was a finalist for FIFA’s World Player of the Year in 2012 and is again in 2013. She scored both goals against Germany in the U.S.’ 2-0 win in the Algarve Cup final this past spring and won the National Women’s Soccer League’s inaugural championship this past season with the Portland Thorns.
Forward: Christine Sinclair
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Not putting Abby Wambach on this list is akin to blasphemy, as she is one of the most accomplished strikers in the history of the game, but Canadian striker Christine Sinclair deserves it more.
Sinclair’s 145 goals in 198 games (0.73 goals per game average) is more impressive than Wambach’s 162 goals in 210 games (0.77 goals per game average) when one considers the massive gap in talent surrounding each player on her respective national team.
While Wambach has world class midfielders and strike partners, Canada has struggled over the years just to remain respectability in the women’s game. Last summer in London, Sinclair nearly led Canada to a massive upset over the U.S. in the Olympic semifinals when she scored a hat-trick only to see her side lose 4-3.
Sinclair has won three professional titles in America and is on the short list for 2013 FIFA Player of the Year.