The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup has been a joy to watch so far and continues to inspire young girls around the planet that they can one day make it on the big stage. Much of the attention has unfortunately surrounded VAR and all of its faults, but many players have also taken centre stage and entered into the limelight at this summer’s tournament in France. Here are the best eleven players of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Group Stages and a complete 23-player squad, highlighting the best of the best as this tournament enters into the Round of 16.
Goalkeeper: Shimeng PengEmbed from Getty Images
Matches: 3 Clean Sheets: 2 Saves: 13 Goals Conceded: 1 AVG Rating: 8.5
Chinese goalkeeper Shimeng Peng had a massive role to play in her nation’s third place finish in Group B. The Chinese outfit never looked convincing going forward, but defensively were always solid and have Peng to credit for that in large part. The 21-year old keeper had a fantastic match against Spain in particular and her 9 saves to earn China a 0-0 draw earned her the player of the match award. Peng also helped to keep the scoring low against Germany, with just a 1-0 scoreline, and later helped secure a 1-0 win for her nation against South Africa. 1 goal conceded from just 3 matches is pretty impressive in its own right, but adding on 13 saves to that makes Shimeng Peng’s contributions to China’s group stage matches all the more important.
Right Back: Lucy BronzeEmbed from Getty Images
Matches: 3 Passes: 161 Tackles: 10 Chances Created: 6 AVG Rating: 8.5
Lucy Bronze has been seriously impressive to start this tournament and has come up with the goods for England in both attack and defense to equal extents. She’s played every single minute of England’s campaign so far, truly highlighting her importance to Phil Neville’s team as the England manager really favours rotation and has Arsenal’s Leah Williamson as back-up on the bench. In that time she’s completed all ten of the tackles she’s attempted, completed 161 passes and created 6 chances. Her influence at both ends of the pitch has been fantastic for England so far to start this tournament and it’s clear for all to see why she is regarded in the best in the world at her position.
Centre Back: Wendie RenardEmbed from Getty Images
Matches: 3 Goals: 3 Tackle Success: 100% Passes: 89% AVG Rating: 8.5
Hardly any player had a more eventful Group Stage than Wendie Renard. The beast at the back for France scored two goals in her nation’s opening match against South Korea, then scored at the wrong end to give Norway a route back into the match, and finally converted a penalty against Nigeria to give France a deserved lead. Apart from her brief slip up against Norway and the odd moment against South Korea, Wendie Renard has been nearly unbeatable at the back. She’s completed 100% of the tackles she’s attempted, nearly 90% of the passes she’s attempted, and unsurprisingly has been unbeatable in the air. Beyond that for a central defender to score 3 goals already at this stage in the tournament is truly spectacular. Wendie Renard is on pace right now to be one of the tournament’s very best players and given her reputation with Olympique Lyonnais, we wouldn’t expect anything less.
Centre Back: Dominque BloodworthEmbed from Getty Images
Matches: 3 Goals: 1 Passes: 176 Clearances: 14 AVG Rating: 8.5
For someone who’s recently made a move from England’s top side in Arsenal over to one of the world’s best in VFL Wolfsburg, Dominique Bloodworth does not seem to be playing with a single distraction on her mind. The Dutch defender has arguably been the standout of Sarina Wiegman’s side so far, contributing massively in the first three matches of this tournament. In the opening game against New Zealand, it was her calming presence and ability on the ball that stood out and helped Holland claim a narrow 1-0 win. Then in the very next game, she scored a goal to help the Dutch claim an even greater 3-1 win. Finally, she didn’t have a struggle at all handling Canada’s dangerous front three, while also completing more passes than any other player on the field. Bloodworth is a key component to Sarina Wiegman’s side and could be on her way to leading the Dutch to more tournament glory, following their Euro 2017 win.
Left Back: Amel MajriEmbed from Getty Images
Matches: 3 Assists: 2 Chances Created: 9 Interceptions: 7 Rating: 9.0
Despite being a left-back, it’s unsurprising that Amel Majri wears the number ten jersey. She is so creative and dangerous for France down that left-hand side and her partnership with Lyon teammate Eugenie Le Sommer is unquestionably unrivaled at this summer’s World Cup. In her 3 matches so far, she’s assisted goals, created 9 chances and had a hand in defense too with 7 interceptions. Brilliant on the ball and capable of whipping in an amazing corner kick, Amel Majri is a serious threat for France at this tournament and looks to be almost untouchable at the top of the left-back charts so far.
Centre Midfield: Amandine HenryEmbed from Getty Images
Matches: 3 Goals: 1 Assists: 1 Tackles: 7 Interceptions: 7 AVG Rating: 9.0
Amandine Henry’s influence for France in the opening group stage matches of this tournament have been second to none. The illustrious Lyon midfielder has played every single minute of action so far, helping France to three wins from three matches. If that wasn’t enough, Henry put in a player of the game performance in each of her three matches and completely dominated the midfield area of each game. Up against some fierce competition, Henry still managed to rise above the rest and make everyone else around her look like school children. Integral to France’s build-up play, Henry had a major influence in both defense and attack and was a key cog in driving the French forward with 1 goal and 1 assist. Indications of her form early on this tournament all point to why she is truly one of the best in the world not just in her position, but beyond.
Centre Midfield: Samantha MewisEmbed from Getty Images
Matches: 2 Goals: 2 Assists: 3 Tackle Success: 100% AVG Rating: 9.5
Sam Mewis is the only player to make just 2 appearances and still make our starting lineup of this Team of the Group Stages. That demonstrates her importance to the United States so far in and of itself. Many thought that Mewis would have to settle for a spot as one of the first substitutes in Jill Ellis’ side, but that has hardly been the case and she’s been more important to this American team than anyone else. Although the competition hasn’t exactly been fierce, Mewis hasn’t put a foot wrong in either of her two appearances so far. When you add on 2 goals and 3 assists as a central midfielder in those two matches, it’s evident that she’s been a real force to be reckoned with. Comfortable playing as a ‘6’ or ‘8’, Sam Mewis will only grow in importance as this tournament goes on, which would be quite the accomplishment given how stacked her nation’s midfield lineup is.
Centre Midfield: Sara DabritzEmbed from Getty Images
Matches: 3 Goals: 2 Shots: 7 Tackles: 5 Dribbles: 7 AVG Rating: 8.5
Sara Dabritz already has a reputation as one of the best in the world at her position, and this tournament so far is only helping to further that reputation. The Bayern Munich midfielder has scored 2 goals for her nation in their 3 matches so far, including the game winning goal against Spain. She hasn’t been able to get on the ball quite as much as Germany might have liked, but in a Germany team that was slightly underwhelming in their first two matches, Sara Dabritz was anything but and came up with a couple of massive displays to help her team top Group B.
Right Wing: Barbara BonanseaEmbed from Getty Images
Matches: 3 Goals: 2 Shots: 5 Dribbles: 100% Tackles: 3 AVG Rating: 9.0
Although actually a left-winger, we simply could not leave Barbara Bonansea out of the best eleven of the 2019 Women’s World Cup Group Stage. Always on the move and always making a difference for Italy, Bonansea’s role in helping her nation qualify for the Round of 16 as group winners was insurmountable. The Juventus winger was far and away Italy’s best player in their opening match against Australia, scoring 2 goals along with another that was ruled out to offside and still to do this day is not totally a convincing offside call. Beyond that, she was again crucial to Italy in their 5-0 thumping of Jamaica, winning the penalty for Girelli’s opening goal and causing havoc for Jamaica’s defense all game long. Finally in the penultimate group stage game against Brazil, she was far and away Italy’s most dangerous attacking weapon and had their best chances to score. Barbara Bonansea might not only be one of the best players from the first three matches in this tournament, but the very best of all. Her role for Italy is absolutely integral and they now head into the Round of 16 with more favourable odds than most were willing to give them credit for heading in.
Striker: Sam KerrEmbed from Getty Images
Matches: 3 Goals: 5 Chances Created: 3 Tackles: 3 AVG Rating: 9.0
Relatively quiet in the first two matches in comparison to her hugely high standards, Sam Kerr came alive in the final match against Jamaica to score four goals and lead Australia to a second place finish over Brazil. Without Sam Kerr where would Australia be right now? Perhaps they would be similar to New Zealand with a very good squad but without a natural goal-scorer. She’s integral to their success and four goals in one World Cup match is seriously impressive, regardless of the circumstances. And it’s not like she was bad in the other two matches either. She won herself a penalty against Italy and then converted it and had a vital role to play in Australia’s 3-2 win over Brazil despite not scoring. One of the best centre forwards in the world and one of the best at this tournament too as Australia head into the Round of 16 under her leadership.
Left Wing: Eugenie Le SommerEmbed from Getty Images
Matches: 3 Goals: 2 Assists: 1 Tackle Success: 100% AVG Rating: 9.0
Out of all the shining stars at the FIFA Women’s World Cup, Eugenie Le Sommer might be the brightest of all. She has looked absolutely unstoppable at this tournament so far and her importance to France was so immense that Corinne Diacre did not even want to risk her from the start against Nigeria. Ultimately, they couldn’t win without her and she came on into the match and completely changed the complexion. France went on to win 1-0, topping Group A with three wins from three. Her influence in the other two matches was even more immense and her stellar performance against South Korea followed by her game winning goal against Norway will undoubtedly live long in the memory of French football fans. If any one is going to stop France at this year’s Women’s World Cup, one thing is clear. They are going to have to stop Eugenie Le Sommer first.
Substitute 1: Giulia GwinnEmbed from Getty Images
Matches: 3 Goals: 1 Assists: 1 Tackles: 6 Clearances: 5 AVG Rating: 8.5
Giulia Gwinn might just be on her way to establishing herself as one of the best midfielders and fullbacks in Europe right now, and she still plays for SC Freiburg. The versatile 19-year old has played every single minute of action for Germany so far, and came up with a crucial goal against China in the opening match to help her nation top Group B. She played as a left winger in the first game, a right winger in the second match and then she was reverted to right back in the third. Her influence in Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s side is clearly massive and with this new fullback role she is really developing her game in a number of different areas and becoming a complete footballer.
Substitute 2: Caroline Graham HansenEmbed from Getty Images
Matches: 3 Goals: 1 Assists: 1 Successful Dribbles: 15 AVG Rating: 8.5
Caroline Graham Hansen has been Norway’s key player at this tournament so far as they cruised into the Round of 16 with 6 points. The VFL Wolfsburg winger put on a show against both Nigeria and South Korea and her 15 successful dribbles in the tournament so far is unmatched. An assist in the first match and a goal in the third is only part of the story to how influential she has been to Norway’s success up until this point and the Norwegians will be desperately hoping she’s back fit in time for their Round of 16 match against Australia.
Substitute 3: Janine BeckieEmbed from Getty Images
Matches: 3 Assists: 1 Chances Created: 12 Interceptions: 5 Rating: 8.5
As highlighted prior to the tournament, Janine Beckie might not score a ton of goals at this summer’s World Cup. But what she does for Canada is create chance after chance for all of those around her and she has been her nation’s best player so far in France. Her influence extends to so many areas of the game and she’s been crucial for Canada in both attack and defense so far. Her pass to set up Nichelle Prince on the run for Jessie Fleming’s goal against New Zealand was sublime and her corner kick cross onto the head of Kadeisha Buchanan against Cameroon was even better. Janine Beckie is a key player for Canada and will continue to be instrumental in their quest for gold at this tournament.
Formation: 4-3-3: Peng (GK), Bronze (RB). Renard (CB), Bloodworth (CB), Majri (LB), Henry (CM), Mewis (CM), Dabritz (CM), Bonansea (RW), Kerr (CF), Le Sommer (LW)
Substitutes: Gwinn (RB), Graham (RW), Beckie (LW)
4-3-3’s have been dominating this summer’s tournament in France so far and it is only fitting that this team also sets up in a 4-3-3 to allow for all of the very best players in the world right now to be accommodated.
Rest of Squad: Vanina Correra (GK), Alex Greenwood (LB), Manuela Giugliano (DM), Kosovare Asllani (CM), Nikita Parris (RW), Lieke Martens (LW), Vivianne Miedema (CF), Alex Morgan (CF), Ellen White (CF)
So there it is! The 23 best players of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup so far as we enter into the Round of 16. Thanks for reading and be sure to check out more Women’s World Cup articles before leaving. See you soon!