Before the start of the Women’s World Cup, it was one of the most crucial questions that needed to be answered. Could England, despite losing four of the 11 starters from the team that won the European Championship last summer – the only trophy, men’s or women’s, that the country that developed the sport has won in the previous more than half a century – overcome those absences and compete for soccer’s most prestigious award? England was the country that developed the sport.
If the result of Saturday’s game against Haiti, in which the United States prevailed 1-0, is any indicator, the answer is probably not yes. The Lionesses were victorious over a tournament newcomer that was playing in its very first World Cup game thanks to a penalty kick that was scored by Georgia Stanway in the first half of the match. The match was played in Brisbane, which is located in Australia, and it was quite entertaining all the way through. The outcome of the contest was entirely predictable. On the other hand, the manner in which the victory was accomplished was not particularly impressive at all.
Even if Fran Kirby, Beth Mead, and Leah Williamson were unable to play due to injury or retirement, the team that was rated fourth in FIFA was anticipated to have a significant advantage over the Haitian side that was placed 53rd in the rankings. It was predicted that England would face more challenging competition later in the first round, during their matches against Denmark and China, and then again during the knockout round of the game. At this point in the competition, it was anticipated that the group stage would primarily serve as a formality.