Ireland will be hoping to cause an upset as they make their World Cup debut this summer.
The European nation aren’t just making their World Cup debut this summer, but also their major tournament debut, though they have been placed in a tough group alongside Australia, Canada and Nigeria. Can the Girls in Green pull off an upset?
Latest Ireland odds to win the Women’s World Cup
|Ireland to win the Women’s World Cup||100/1|
|Ireland to reach the semi-finals||33/1|
|Ireland to win Group B||16/1|
|Amber Barrett to win Golden Boot||150/1|
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Ireland 2023 Women’s World Cup build-up
Ireland’s only win from their last five games building up to next week’s tournament came at home to Zambia at the end of June. That said, two of those came against World Cup favourites USA. The most disruptive element of their preparations came on Friday when, six days before their opener versus hosts Australia, a behind-closed-doors friendly with Colombia was called off after 20 minutes when it became “overly physical.”
Colombia were reportedly shown two yellow cards within 20 minutes and a heavy tackle on key midfielder Denise O’Sullivan saw Ireland’s coaching staff request the game by abandoned. O’Sullivan was subsequently taken to hospital to undergo a scan on her shin, though she has since returned to training, shedding the protective boot after just a matter of days.
ATENCIÓN ? ? ?
Esta fue la jugada que motivó el retiro de Irlanda y los reclamos… Es falta, sí, pero una acción de juego NORMAL. Ahí no hay nada tan grave como para el problema que armaron las europeas…
— Juan Felipe Cadavid (@JFCadavid) July 16, 2023
A statement from the Irish FA read: “The behind-closed-doors game between the Ireland Women’s National Team and Colombia on Friday evening was ended after 20 minutes of play.
“The game, which was held in Meakin Park, Brisbane, became overly physical and it was decided, following consultation with the match officials, to end the game.
“The Ireland team then underwent a full training session to continue preparations for their opening game in FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023, against Australia in Sydney on 20 July.”
Their Colombian counterparts said:
“The Colombian Football Federation reports that the friendly match that was to take place as part of today’s training between the Colombian Women’s National Team and Ireland, was suspended because the Irish National Team, rival in the practice of this Friday, preferred not to continue playing when 23 minutes of the first half had already elapsed.
“Although all the processes and training of our national teams are framed in the rules of the game, healthy competition and fair play, among others, we respect the decision of our rival team.”
Ireland’s route to the Women’s World Cup Final
Group Stage fixtures
|Australia vs Ireland||Stadium Australia||20 July, 11am BST|
|Canada vs Ireland||Perth Rectangular Stadium||26 July, 1pm BST|
|Ireland vs Nigeria||Lang Park||31 July, 11am BST|
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Who could Ireland meet in the knockout rounds?
If Ireland upset the odds to not only qualify for the last 16 but actually win Group B, they’ll face the runners-up of Group D — one of Denmark, China or Haiti if England stick to the script and top the table. Bypass that and it’s a quarter-final clash against the winners of Group F or Group H’s runners-up, likely to be France or Brazil.
The semi finals open up the possibility of England or Germany, with the final boss of women’s football USA awaiting in the showpiece.
|Route as Group B winners||Potential Opponent|
|Round of 16||Denmark|
If Ireland manage to qualify as runners-up, they would face the winners of Group D — which everyone expects to be England unless something dramatic happens, a massive match for the first knockout round. Should the Girls in Green beat their bitter rivals, the winners of Group H or Group F’s runners-up up await, which could be Germany, France or Brazil.
In the semi-final, it’d likely be the winner of Group B or Group F, bringing in the likes of Australia, France or Brazil (depending on who comes out on top), with USA awaiting in the final.
|Route as Group B runners-up||Potential Opponent|
|Round of 16||England|
Confirmed Ireland Women’s World Cup squad
|Aine O’Gorman||Defender||34||Shamrock Rovers|
|Chloe Mustaki||Defender||27||Bristol City|
|Heather Payne||Defender||23||Florida State Seminoles|
|Izzy Atkinson||Defender||21||West Ham|
|Denise O’Sullivan||Midfielder||29||North Carolina Courage|
|Ruesha Littlejohn||Midfielder||32||Aston Villa|
|Lily Agg||Midfielder||29||London City Lionesses|
|Sinead Farrelly||Midfielder||33||NJ/NY Gotham|
|Amber Barrett||Forward||27||Turbine Potsdam|
|Kyra Carusa||Forward||27||London City Lionesses|
|Abbie Larkin||Forward||18||Shamrock Rovers|
|Marissa Sheva||Forward||26||Washington Spirit|
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Ireland players to watch at this year’s Women’s World Cup
Ireland World Cup Golden Boot contender – Katie McCabe
Ireland don’t really have an out-and-out goalscorer right now, but they do have a couple of midfielders who can get amongst the goals, one of whom is Katie McCabe. While McCabe is more often seen in a defensive role for Arsenal, mostly at left-back, she is actually more at home further up the pitch whether in midfield or on the wing. For Ireland, McCabe mostly plays on the left wing and in qualifying for the World Cup the Arsenal utility woman scored seven times, more than any other Irish player. She’ll be looking to have a similar impact at the actual tournament this summer.
Ireland player to watch – Denise O’Sullivan
Midfielder O’Sullivan is Ireland’s highest-scoring active player. Sitting second in the Irish rankings overall (albeit long way off Olivia O’Toole), O’Sullivan has 19 goals in just over 100 caps for Ireland, one of four players in the expected World Cup squad to have hit a century. Like McCabe, O’Sullivan plays her club football in a slightly deeper role as one of North Carolina Courage’s holding midfielders, but she got six goals in qualifying for the World Cup from pushing slightly further forward.
Vera Pauw will have all her fingers crossed that O’Sullivan is fit to feature in the World Cup opener.
Ireland emerging player to look out for – Abbie Larkin
It was not guaranteed that Abbie Larkin will be at the World Cup, but the 18-year-old has been named in Ireland’s final squad and is an interesting prospect. When it comes to the forwards, Ireland aren’t exactly blessed in the goals department, so why not take someone who scored in World Cup qualifying (during the 9-0 win over Georgia last year)? Larkin is part of the Shamrock Rovers side currently fighting for the league title in Ireland, having joined at the start of the season.
Ireland tactical analysis & formation at the World Cup
Vera Pauw has settled on a 5-4-1 with Ireland which allows them to be defensively strong first and build on that, with a lot of responsibility on their wingers and midfield to get involved in the attack. Here, the likes of Katie McCabe and Heather Payne will look to get forward a lot to support the lone striker, with Kyra Carusa leading the line against France. However, Pauw isn’t against playing one of her other defensive options as part of the midfield four, including full-back Aine O’Gorman. In midfield, Denise O’Sullivan has had a variety of partners recently, ranging from Lily Agg to Ruesha Littlejohn, so Pauw does have options.
In the centre of defence, Aoife Mannion didn’t recover from her injury, with Megan Connolly dropping to play alongside Louis Quinn and Niamh Fahey as part of the back three, though Dianne Caldwell is another option.
Where are Ireland in the FIFA world rankings?
Ireland are currently 22nd in the FIFA world rankings, their highest-ever placement, jumping up in March 2023.
Who is the Ireland manager?
Vera Pauw is the current Ireland manager, replacing Colin Bell in 2019, just the second non-Irish person to take charge of the Girls in Green.
Who is the current Ireland captain?
Arsenal midfielder Katie McCabe is Ireland captain, first donning the armband in 2017 as a 21-year-old — making her the youngest-ever captain of Ireland.
How many times have Ireland won the World Cup?
Ireland have never won the World Cup.
How many times have Ireland competed in the World Cup?
This will be Ireland’s first ever appearance at a World Cup, and also their major tournament debut, having also failed to qualify for the European Championships thus far.
Who has scored Ireland’s most goals in World Cup tournaments?
Yet to feature at a World Cup, Ireland are still awaiting their first goalscorer at the tournament.