It’s been a bumper two weeks of football. Star players have lived up to the hype and some new faces have announced themselves to the world. But who were the best performers in the group stage of the tournament? Florence Lloyd-Hughes lays down her best XI.
There is one standout goalkeeper whose name was on everyone’s lips at the end of last week. Christiane Endler’s performance in Chile’s defeat to the USA was heroic, despite her conceding three goals. Endler’s highlights reel went viral and she received plaudits from footballers around the world.
The Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper was touted as one of the stoppers to watch in France, and she’s certainly lived up to her box-office billing.
Unfortunately, we won’t see Endler again as Chile didn’t make it through as one of the best third-placed teams. But, it will be exciting to watch her in Division 1 Feminine and UEFA Women’s Champions League next season.
Crystal Dunn only played in two of the US’ group games but she still made her mark in the team’s victories over Thailand and Sweden.
Chelsea manager Emma Hayes praised former Blue Dunn during her BBC 5Live commentary and highlighted Dunn’s versatility. However, in this XI she’ll be played at left back because there’s few who can pull off what Dunn can.
After her starring role in France’s opening thrashing of South Korea, Renard was thrust into the spotlight. Her brace made headlines at home and expectations rose as a result. Renard came crashing back down to reality in France’s second game when she scored an own goal but helped the hosts hold eventually on to the win.
In her team’s final group game, she nearly threw away her shot at redemption when her penalty struck the post. She now infamously got the chance to retake the spot-kick after VAR revealed that Nigeria’s goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie had stepped off her line.
Renard finished and regained her hero status. Her height, presence and defensive leadership make her an essential centre-back for any team.
It would be a shame if this XI didn’t include at least one England player, so why not select arguably the best right-back in the world, Lucy Bronze.
In England’s opening match against Scotland, Bronze’s link-up play with Nikita Parris was scintillating. Her relentless work rate makes her an invaluable asset for any team.
She bullies oncoming attackers and even engages in some much needed ‘shithousery’ to run the clock down when needed. She’s one of a kind.
Like Dunn, Rapinoe only featured in two group games, but it’s her vibes as well as her talents which make her an essential member of this XI.
Rapinoe scored one goal and had three assists from those two games. Her fun and flamboyant personality flows through the team and creates positive energy both on and off the pitch.
Don’t let that smile fool you though, Rapinoe is ruthless in attack. Her passes split defenders like a knife cuts through butter on a cool morning in Paris.
The Lyon midfielder and French captain kicked off the tournament in style with a fantastic strike late in the home team’s opening-night win.
Henry is a rock in the centre of midfield and provides a reassuring, sturdy presence but also some attacking potency.
Manchester United fans must be getting excited because new signing Jackie Groenen is playing well in France.
The 24-year-old has consistently performed in all three of Holland’s games and it’s her defensive ability which is shining.
The former Frankfurt player has been tracking back like she has some sort in-built GPS system and helped the Dutch secure three wins. She has covered a total of 29.8km across the three group games and is a much-needed worker bee for this team.
This Best XI wouldn’t be complete without a little help from technology. VAR has been the main talking point of this World Cup and has played a part in plenty of games. Whether it’s ordering a penalty retake or letting a goal stand that is probably offside, VAR is there to help. Without VAR we’d probably have less to talk about.
The Arsenal forward is up to her usual tricks in France as she secured Holland’s scoring record in just the second game of the tournament and is still only 22.
Miedema strikes fear into the hearts of all defenders and I’m scared of the firepower we’ll be seeing at Euro 2021 and World Cup 2023. For now, she’ll lead the line and continue to bang them in from all angles.
This front three will be anchored by Miss ‘suck on that one’ herself, Sam Kerr. Despite making her World Cup debut in 2011 at just 17-years-old, Kerr scored her first World Cup goal in Australia’s opening defeat to Italy.
She inspired the team to a comeback victory against Brazil and then seriously silenced the critics with her four goals versus Jamaica.
Kerr is finally getting a chance to flip on the global stage.
Morgan is tied with Kerr for the Golden Boot with both players having a ridiculous five goals after three games.
Morgan only featured in two fixtures, with all five of her goals coming against Thailand. She failed to put a goal past Sweden, but it would be rude not to include this American hero.
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