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Women's World Cup 2015: Day 4 Takeaways

Michael Cummings@MikeCummings37World Football Lead WriterJune 10, 2015

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The first round of group-stage matches are finished after eight more teams played their opening matches on Tuesday at the 2015 Women's World Cup.

Group favorites France (Group F) and Brazil (Group E) won as expected, but it wasn't immediately clear how much we really learned about either team. The two other matches both ended in draws, with Spain and Costa Rica sharing the spoils in Group E and Colombia and Mexico settling for a point apiece in Group F.

Here's a look at the key takeaways from Day 4 at the Women's World Cup.

MONTREAL, QC - JUNE 09:  Marta #10 of Brazil celebrates a goal on a penalty kick with teammates in the second half during the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup Group E match against Korea Republic at Olympic Stadium on June 9, 2015 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
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Brazil wins, but will the Selecao be tested? 

Marta became the leading scorer in Women's World Cup history as Brazil opened their tournament with a 2-0 victory over South Korea. The two-goal margin suggests an easy win, but the South Americans had to work for the win with South Korea defending resolutely.

Brazil took control early, delighting the sparse crowd in Montreal with flicks and flair. Defender Fabiana struck the crossbar with a thundering effort from 30 yards in the third minute, but the Selecao had to wait until the 33rd minute to take the lead.

The opener came from an error by South Korea defender Kim Do-yeon, whose back pass had too little weight on it and stranded goalkeeper Kim Jung-mi. Formiga raced in and poked the ball into her net to become the oldest scorer in Women's World Cup history at 37 years old.

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Brazil doubled their lead early in the second half. Formiga won a penalty in the 52nd minute after being tripped by Cho So-hyun. Marta converted the spot-kick a minute later to record her 15th World Cup goal—the most all-time.

MONTREAL, QC - JUNE 09:  Members from Brazil and Korea Republic battle for position in the first half during the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup Group E match at Olympic Stadium on June 9, 2015 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty I
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Further chances followed at both ends, but Marta's strike turned out to be the last of the game. And so Brazil, as expected, took control of Group E, which also includes newcomers Spain and Costa Rica. Vadao's side will be pleased overall with the result, and the key now will be replicating it with professional performances in the final two group games, which on paper should not trouble the Selecao.

As the tournament progresses, however, the relative ease of Group E could come back to hurt Brazil. South Korea, which had high hopes after holding the United States to a scoreless draw in its final warm-up match, was the Selecao's only opponent with previous World Cup experience. When the group stage ends, it's entirely possible that no one will have truly tested Brazil.

MONCTON, NB - JUNE 09:  Wendie Renard #2 of France and the rest of her teammates salute the fans after the match against England during the FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 Group F match at Moncton Stadium on June 9, 2015 in Moncton, Canada.  (Photo by Elsa/Ge
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Is France really one of the favorites?

France entered the tournament as one of the favorites following a string of good results. Les Bleues notched wins over Germany, the United States, Japan and Canada in friendlies, but the World Cup represented a completely different challenge.

So is France for real? The answer is still probably yes, but we didn't see Les Bleues play their best football against England. The Three Lionesses set out to frustrate France, and for most of the match, the defensive strategy limited the chances of the world's third-ranked side.

In fact, France's only goal, Eugenie Le Sommer's rifled finish from the edge of the box in the 29th minute, came directly after a giveaway by England in the defensive third. Apart from that, Les Bleues struggled to break their opponents down.

Grant Wahl @GrantWahl

Ruthless strike from Le Sommer for France. Could give GER's Sasic a run for Golden Boot.

Philippe Bergeroo has constructed a team that plays technical, attractive soccer, but we didn't really see that against England. Especially in the second half, France's buildup play was too slow to break down their European rivals. 

Then again, England almost completely failed to trouble France's defense. So the win was more comfortable than the 1-0 scoreline might suggest.

"We’re very satisfied with the win, which was achieved in difficult weather conditions," Bergeroo told FIFA.com. "England closed the game down, but never really threatened us that much."

Bergeroo added: "I asked my players to keep the ball on the ground as much as possible to combat the wind. We controlled the match in the second half. Looking forward, this victory now puts us in a good position."

MONCTON, NB - JUNE 09:  Louisa Necib #14 of France knocks the ball away from Alex Scott #2 of England during the FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 Group F match at Moncton Stadium on June 9, 2015 in Moncton, Canada.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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England offered almost nothing in attack

Against Group F favorite France, England set out almost exclusively to defend. After being eliminated by Les Bleues in the 2011 World Cup and Euro 2013, it was probably a sensible strategy, especially since England will be expected to pick up points against Colombia and Mexico.

The plan worked well for almost 30 minutes, as Fara Williams did a fine job marking Le Sommer, and Alex Scott stuck close to playmaker Louisa Necib. Sitting deep, the Three Lionesses patiently awaited their chance to counter.

But then France went ahead in the 29th minute, and England had no real Plan B. With France offering little threat in the second half, Mark Sampson's side had a real chance to nick a point if only they could have scored a goal.

Unfortunately for England, that never really looked like it would happen. 

MONTREAL, QC - JUNE 09:  Raquel Rodriguez Cedeno #11 of Costa Rica celebrates her goal with teammates during the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup Group E match against Spain at Olympic Stadium on June 9, 2015 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Minas Panagi
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Little to separate Spain, Costa Rica

Spain and Costa Rica played to a 1-1 draw in the Group E opener, a match that represented the World Cup debut for both sides.

The Europeans went ahead in the 13th minute as a short corner found Vicky Losada along the edge of the box. The Arsenal midfielder controlled and turned with one superb touch before firing into the bottom corner for the opener.

But the lead lasted all of a minute as Costa Rica stormed down the pitch and equalised. Full-back Lixy Rodriguez worked to the byline on the left before cutting back to an unmarked Raquel Rodriguez, who slotted in from close range.

Spain created two good chances early in the second half. In the 50th minute, Jennifer Hermoso fired wide following nice work by Vero Boquete. Twelve minutes later, Sonia Bermudez narrowly missed the target with a sliced effort, another chance setup by Vero.

La Roja won't be fully pleased with the result, but the draw keeps Ignacio Quereda's side in contention for a qualifying spot behind presumed group winner Brazil. The same can be said for Costa Rica, who will be hoping for another positive result against South Korea in their next match.

MONCTON, NB - JUNE 09:  Daniela Montoya #6 of Colombia celebrates her goal with teammates in the second half against Mexico during the FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 Group F match at Moncton Stadium on June 9, 2015 in Moncton, Canada.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty I
Elsa/Getty Images

Montoya golazo denies Mexico

In another World Cup debut, Colombia secured a 1-1 draw with Mexico thanks to Daniela Montoya's late golazo, a shot that ricocheted in off the underside of the crossbar. Mexico had dominated possession but missed a string of chances and had a late winner chalked off.

MONTREAL, QC - JUNE 09:  Veronica Boquete #9 of Spain tries to move the ball past Shirley Cruz #10 of Costa Rica during the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup Group E match at Olympic Stadium on June 9, 2015 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Minas Panagiota
Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

El Tri took the lead in the first half through Veronica Perez, whose cross shot fooled Colombia goalkeeper Stefany Castano and crossed the line, as confirmed by goal-line technology. Mexico then had Charlyn Corral's would-be late winner ruled out for a questionable foul called in the buildup.

Neither side will be completely happy with the draw. That's because after the opening game, Group F only becomes more difficult. Up next for Mexico is Saturday's game against England, who are ranked No. 6 in the world. Colombia faces third-ranked France the same day.

MONCTON, NB - JUNE 09:  Veronica Perez #17 of Mexico celebrates with Alina Garciamendez #4 and Renae Cuellar #19 after she scored in the first half against Colombia during the FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 Group F match at Moncton Stadium on June 9, 2015 in
Elsa/Getty Images

The weather in Moncton could actually be an advantage

During the game between France and England, the conditions in Moncton were far from ideal. Overcast skies, heavy wind and intermittent rain made passing difficult for the two teams.

But the temperature at kick-off, 68 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Fox's U.S. coverage, was comparatively comfortable after the scorching heat other teams have faced in sunnier locales at this tournament.

Though the conditions were poor on the day, the teams in Group F might actually have an advantage playing in cooler temperatures. Recovery will certainly be easier than after playing in on-pitch temperatures of above 100 degrees. As the tournament progresses, that could become a factor.

Follow @MiguelCominguez.

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