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Women's World Cup Group F predictions: Jamaica could give Brazil the Bleues
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Simon Barlow
Herve Renard has a job on his hands to reunite the France squad in wake of Corinne Diacre's reign
Herve Renard has a job on his hands to reunite the France squad in wake of Corinne Diacre's reign

There are genuine concerns that France, quarter-finalists for the last three editions of the Women's World Cup, may not make it as far as that in Australia and New Zealand after a year of upheaval and disruption.

Les Bleues have been pitted against South American champions Brazil, a talented but inexperienced Jamaica and World Cup debutantes Panama in Group F.

Their path to the quarter-finals should be straight forward if they finish on top, but a major obstacle will be put in their way if they slip up and finish second with Euro 2022 runners-up Germany likely to be lying in wait.

Renard must repair faults in divided French squad

France's preparations for the tournament have been far from smooth with former coach Corinne Diacre sacked back in March because of what the French Football Federation described as “a very significant divide” with the players that had “reached the point of no return”.

Key players like Eugenie Le Sommer and Wendie Renard have since been recalled by new boss Herve Renard, a two-time Africa Cup of Nations winner who helped mastermind Saudi Arabia's sensational win over Argentina in the Men's World Cup last year.

Renard understands tournament football better than most, but he has yet to get the best out of a team that were beaten 1-0 by the Matildas in a warm-up a few days after landing in Australia.

The sight of first-choice left-back Selma Bacha leaving the pitch in tears after spraining her ankle in that game, having already lost both Delphine Cascarino and Marie-Antoinette Katoto to injury, will further disrupt the group favourites' chances of getting off on the right foot.

Marta may not save unbalanced Brazil

Brazil have been priced at 6/4 with LiveScore Bet to win Group A, but they will have to earn at least a draw from the key middle fixture against the French in order to finish above a team that has consistently got the better of them.

As Canarinhas were beaten 2-1 after extra-time by the 2019 tournament hosts at the last-16 stage four years ago in what became the end of the line at this level for two of their three great talismanic stars — Cristiane and Formiga.

This will be Marta's last shot at World Cup glory, but the six-time FIFA World Player for the Year is one of several veterans in an unbalanced squad that includes too many players at the start and end of their international careers and too few at the peak of their powers.

The 2007 semi-finalists have flatlined on the biggest stage of late, failing to make it to the last eight in the last two editions, but respected coach Pia Sundhage has enough experience at her disposal to ensure Brazil are not embarrassed by either of Group F's lower-ranked teams.

Shaw can shine for Reggae Girlz

Khadija Shaw's excellent season for Manchester City shows Jamaica have a genuine goal threat
Khadija Shaw's excellent season for Manchester City shows Jamaica have a genuine goal threat

Jamaica return for a second crack at the Women's World Cup and should find things a little easier than they did four years ago when they lost 3-0 to Brazil, 5-0 to Italy and 4-1 to Australia in the group stage.

The Reggae Girlz have a genuine star in their ranks now with Manchester City striker Khadija 'Bunny' Shaw, who scored 31 goals across all competitions last term, capable of finding the back of the net against any opponent as long as she receives the requisite service.

That may still be an issue against the two top 10-ranked teams in Group F, but Shaw could have a field day in the game with minnows Panama to make an each-way bet on her at Livescore's 150/1 to finish as the tournament's top scorer an appealing play.

Panama can barge into the limelight

Panama qualified via a play-off, beating Paraguay to progress to their first finals.

They play a 5-4-1 formation, which suits their counter-attacking style, and are not without talent.

Midfielder Marta Cox plays her club football at a high level in Mexico while forward Deysire Salazar could emerge as a star of the future, but much will depend on goalkeeper Yenith Bailey, who is likely to be very busy.

La Marea Roja lost 7-0 to Spain last month and 5-0 to Japan in their most recent friendly game to underline the scale of their task Down Under.

Group F best bet - France to win Group F

It should be between France and Brazil for the group's top spot with the crucial clash between the nations in Brisbane likely to be decisive.

Despite their injury and cohesion problems, Renard's team have a couple of advantages going into the game with an extra 24 hours rest and a distance of under half of their rivals' mileage to get there and that could make all the difference.

Group F long shots - Jamaica to qualify

The Reggae Girlz could pounce to grab second place if Brazil have an off-day in the group's final fixture.

The respective confidence levels could contrast for that clash if Sundhage's side have just lost to France while Jamaica enjoy a morale-boosting win over Panama.


Jamaica WFranceBrazil WPanama WWomen's World Cup
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