The eighth FIFA Women’s World Cup was a resounding success on and off the pitch.
It goes down in history for a multitude of reasons, with the standard of football displayed, largely across the 52 matches, setting a new benchmark going forward.
In the end the United States, the game’s most dominant force, brushed aside emerging power and European champions the Netherlands in the final, with their 2-0 victory perhaps flattering them.
But, looking back across these championships there were some notable performers, and we have taken a look at the statistics to highlight their superiority.
Goals, goals, goals
The most important art form in football is goalscoring. This summer’s WWC saw no fewer than 146 goals (2.81 per match) scored by 83 different players. However if we break these strikes down just 16 came from outside the box with Italian midfielder Aurora Galli (2) being the most prolific.
As far as goals from open play (excluding own goals) went it was the Ellen White show. Incredibly all of her six goals for England came via this means. It wasn’t enough to win the Golden Boot outright as White’s tally was matched by Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe who in open play scored five and two goals respectively.
Creativity is the beautiful game’s lifeblood. And we saw plenty of that in France, whose own national team boasted Amel Majri, the player who created the most chances including assists (21). But, naturally, it was the eventual champions who dominated in open play with Samantha Mewis assisting the most goals (4) and Rapinoe creating the most chances (14).
Regarding set plays, that was Sherida Spitse’s domain, with the Dutch deep-lying midfielder creating the most goals (4). Half of those came in Oranje’s quarter-final win over Italy when she put on a second half masterclass. Spitse and Mewis would both share the ‘assist queen’ moniker for the tournament, with the duo proving to be effective in their respective disciplines.
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Take the ball, pass the ball
For some purists it boils down to what a team/player can down with the ball, particularly if they’re able to establish a passing game. As many pursue this style of play it comes as no surprise to see the Dutch, whose current footballing lineage traces back to Rinus Michels, who popularised the concept of ball circulation, dominate this field.
The aforementioned Spitse made the most successful passes in the opposition half (193) whilst their marauding right-back Desiree van Lunteren did so in the final third (90). England, who have adopted this style under Phil Neville, can lay claim to the player who made the most overall successful passes in captain Stephanie Houghton (388).
Defence wins championships…
The above statement would have been accurate here if Germany, who conceded the least amount of goals (2), had gone all the way. Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s side were perfect until they crossed paths with a fiery Sweden side who came from a goal down to win their quarter-final tie 2-1.
On the other side of the spectrum was Thailand who shipped in the most goals (20), but midfielder Natthakarn Chinwong at least produced the most clearances (39), which goes to show how overworked they were.
Elsewhere, there’s a three-way tie when it comes to tackles won (17) and interceptions made (18). Van Lunteren features in both. She’s joined by Crystal Dunn and Hanna Glas concerning the former whilst Lucy Bronze and Caroline Seger stand alongside her in the latter.
However, there’s a clear winner in terms of successful blocks, as Elena Linari made no fewer than 10. Of course, when it comes to defending, goalkeepers are a prized commodity.
The ‘keeper of these championships was undoubtedly Sari van Veenendaal, who kept the Netherlands’ final defeat to a respectable scoreline, across the competition she produced 17 saves from inside the penalty area, claiming the Golden Glove in the process.
Everyone loves an ingenuitive footballer. Norwegian forward Caroline Graham Hansen, who lit up France 2019, can be classified as one. Her mesmerising dribbling bamboozled opponents and captivated audiences; unlike some proponents, it was effective more often than not, as she successfully completed 22 take-ons. Graham Hansen’s dreams of becoming world champion was ended by England whose midfield mainstay Jill Scott won the most duels (70) of anyone at the tournament.
The Lionesses were denied a consecutive bronze medal by Sweden, as their third-place playoff saw Blagult ‘keeper Hedvig Lindahl shine – across the championship she produced the most recoveries (81). As you can now work out, there’s a theme, the Swedes fell to Oranje in the semi-finals and their star centre-forward, Vivianne Miedema, who didn’t have the greatest tournament by her standards, nonetheless made the most touches in the opposition box (51), unfortunately, at times, she kept in possession of the ball far longer than needed.