World cup successful coach Jill Ellis blown away by ‘unpredictable’ World Cup

Double World Cup-winning coach Jill Ellis confesses even she is blown away by the utter unpredictability of the 2023 event, which has already seen six top-20 sides bow out on the group stage.

The most stunning of these upsets got here on Thursday night time, when world quantity two Germany have been dumped from Group H after by no means failing to succeed in the quarter-finals in eight earlier tournaments.

Counter to the disillusioned faces of the two-time champions have been these of group rivals and debutants Morocco who, in a viral clip, huddled round a telephone on the pitch earlier than erupting in elation after studying their world quantity 72 facet had made it to the knockouts.

“It’s been a doozy so far,” stated Ellis, who guided the USA to back-to-back titles in 2015 and 2019 and now heads the event’s technical research group.

“I think we all feel this. Gone are the days of total predictability. Progress sits very clearly at the core, and certainly the competitiveness can be felt [with] giants in the game getting knocked out, we see debutants advance to the next round, which I think lends itself to this being just one of the most unpredictable and arguably exciting World Cups we’ve seen to date.

“If I’m candid, I really am surprised. I think when you suddenly see a Germany or a Brazil get knocked out of a World Cup in group stage.

“I don’t think any of us could have predicted that. I’m excited by the development, of course, for sure. But I think I was thinking that one more iteration of the World Cup before we started to see even more parity that we’re starting to see right now.”

Olympic champions Canada (seventh) and Brazil (eighth) have been the opposite two top-10 sides to be despatched packing after the group stage, becoming a member of China (14th), Italy (sixteenth) and South Korea (seventeenth) amongst among the world’s top-ranked groups eradicated.

For the primary time, three African nations – Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa – all superior to the knockouts, whereas Jamaica made historical past by reaching the last-16 for the primary time, regardless of an ongoing dispute with their federation over pay, sources and circumstances that resulted in gamers airing their grievances in an open letter on social media earlier than the World Cup.

Nigeria and South Africa are amongst different qualifying nations who have been concerned in pre-tournament disputes with their respective federations – a gaggle that additionally contains England, who’ve vowed to totally concentrate on successful a primary World Cup earlier than resuming discussions with the Football Association over bonus funds and industrial buildings.

Each nation competing at this World Cup additionally obtained US $960,000 (£753,830) to completely cowl preparation prices.

While some sides appear to be defying the percentages, Ellis and her knowledgeable panel have pointed general to a transparent correlation between funding and resourcing and efficiency.

The Royal Moroccan Football Federation, for instance, has considerably invested in ladies’ and ladies’s soccer since a system overhaul in 2009, and 6 years in the past created a ladies’s soccer academy the place gamers have entry to the identical amenities as the lads’s nationwide group.

Ellis stated: “I was blown away by the facility. It’s one of the nicest I’ve ever seen, and it just kind of made me realise that yes, there are federations that are taking this very seriously.”

FIFA’s knowledge after the group stage additionally mirror an more and more aggressive pool. The proportion of objectives scored within the first half of matches has elevated by 9 per cent for the reason that 2019 event, whereas the proportion scored within the first half by groups who didn’t advance elevated by 18 per cent, from 5 per cent in 2019 to 23 per cent in 2023.

We can arguably say that there aren’t gaps

Jill Ellis

At the identical time, Ellis’ group additionally noticed an increase within the high quality of goalkeeping, which noticed the common save share improve from 70 per cent 4 years in the past in France to 77 per cent in 2023, whereas the proportion of matches ending in a draw has elevated from eight per cent to 21 per cent.

Add in additional gamers signing with golf equipment in more and more well-resourced leagues and nationwide groups growing clearer tactical identities formed to their particular person strengths and weaknesses, and this turns into maybe essentially the most open Women’s World Cup but.

Ellis added: “We hear this constant comment about gaps and where are the gaps. We can arguably say that there aren’t gaps. That on any given day, a team can come out here and be competitive against another team.

“And so it’s going to be incredibly exciting to see how this plays out.”

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