Power Moments: What We Learned from the 1st Set of Women's World Cup Matches

Richard LavertyContributor IJune 12, 2019

REIMS, FRANCE - JUNE 11: Alex Morgan #13 of USA celebrates her fifth goal with Megan Rapinoe #15, Mallory Pugh #2 and Carli Lloyd #10 of USA during the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France group F match between USA and Thailand at Stade Auguste Delaune on June 11, 2019 in Reims, France. (Photo by Catherine Steenkeste/Getty Images)
Catherine Steenkeste/Getty Images

USA's ruthless 13-0 victory over Thailand put a bow on the first round of group games at the FIFA Women's World Cup.

Now that we have seen all 24 teams in action, it is time to consider what we've learned.

                         

1. USA are in no mood to do anything but lay down a marker

There are caveats all over USA's opening-round hammering of Thailand, which broke a 12-year record for the biggest victory in the tournament. The 13 goals were split between seven players, with Alex Morgan scoring five, just one fewer than the joint-Golden Boot winners four years ago (Carli Lloyd and Celia Sasic).

There's been plenty of talk in the hours after the game about whether the U.S. should have shown some mercy well before the game hit double figures, but champions want to win and are here to win.

With much of the pre-tournament focus being on hosts France, the reigning champions have reminded everyone they're here to win again.

                   

2. Despite Morgan's 5-goal haul, midfield may be the key to the USA's run

Jill Ellis had to reshuffle her pack slightly against Thailand, with centre-back Becky Sauerbrunn absent through injury in a move described as "precautionary" by US Soccer.

The switch meant Julie Ertz moved back into her old defensive position, allowing Sam Mewis to line up in midfield alongside Rose Lavelle and Lindsey Horan.

Rose Lavelle impressed vs. Thailand
Rose Lavelle impressed vs. ThailandTF-Images/Getty Images

While the USA will endure tougher tests on the road to the final in Lyon on July 7, the midfield trio looked strong, shifting the ball quickly to the attackers and chipping in with five of the 13 goals between them.

Lavelle, in particular, looked comfortable linking midfield and attack, while Mewis capped her World Cup debut with two goals.

                        

3. France's confidence-boosting opener will help them break the shackles

France, in the women's and men's games, have struggled to break free from the "chokers" tag that has sometimes followed the nation around.

With the men's team having conquered the world 12 months ago, there's extra pressure on a women's side that has all the star quality and winning experience at club level to win the tournament.

France's teams always fare well on home soil, and Corinne Diacre's side didn't look daunted as they blew away South Korea 4-0 in front of over 45,000 fans in Paris.

Their world-class spine of Wendie Renard, Amandine Henry and Eugenie Le Sommer all found the net in a result that will have settled any lingering nerves and should set them up for the rest of the tournament.

                

4. Defences will win the tournament

Many great managers and coaches have often said defences go a long way toward winning major competitions, and based on the evidence we've seen so far, some of the top nations seem to be lacking in such a key area.

Germany gave up several good chances against China, while none of England, Netherlands, Japan or Australia looked settled at the back.

USA and France will have tougher tests, but it seems as though dark horses Canada are best positioned to frustrate opponents. They don't score many but have conceded just once in nine games in 2019, a record that could position them for a long run in the World Cup.

                    

5. Brazil might be better without Marta

GRENOBLE, FRANCE - JUNE 09: Marta of Brazil looks on during the warm up prior to the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France group C match between Brazil and Jamaica at Stade des Alpes on June 09, 2019 in Grenoble, France. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

Brazil were one of the unknown quantities coming into the tournament. They hadn't won a game in 12 months, and with star player Marta out injured for their opener, some were expecting a potential upset against an exciting young Jamaica side.

But head coach Vadao's team put in an accomplished performance at both ends of the field and had the ageless Cristiane to thank for a sublime hat-trick that handed them a crucial early advantage in the group, which also features Italy and Australia.

With North Carolina Courage's Debinha also part of the attack and Atletico Madrid's Ludmila as backup, Brazil looked livelier when not constantly looking to get the ball to Marta.

The Orlando Pride superstar will likely come back in for their next match against Australia, but any dip in the team's performance will leave people wondering if Brazil might be better set up to play without their most celebrated player.

           

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