The first round of group stage action has been completed in the 2019 Women’s World Cup and while there were some blowouts, there were also surprises. The host nation France kicked off the tournament with a bang, scoring four goals past South Korea. Italy shocked dark horse competitors Australia with a late goal, securing a 2-1 win. Germany scraped by China with a 1-0 win in what was a very dull match until the end. Spain, Norway and Brazil handled their opponents easily with comfortable wins and the Dutch in the dying seconds sneaked by with a 1-0 win over New Zealand with substitute Jill Roord putting away a header. The most lopsided match of the first round came with the U.S. women beating Thailand by 13 goals ...

After watching the first round, some would say the Americans would be the team to beat. Yet facing an opponent like Thailand says nothing new about the defending World Cup champions. France looks the toughest to beat right now with the offense clicking on all cylinders and the defense looking stronger than ever. Without the world’s best woman player, Norway will need to find a way for younger players to step up yet still look like a very good team after thrashing Nigeria. My dark horse team for the tournament is the Dutch. Yes, they scraped by late in the game to secure a win, but despite the missed chances against New Zealand they will not make the same mistakes against Cameroon and Canada.