- USA seal cup win on home soil
- An anniversary tournament with two champions
- Spain triumph in Cyprus
In recent years, March has become an extremely significant month for women’s football. Many of the world’s best sides battle it out against one another at this time of year and, as was the case in 2017, the month saw a trio of different tournaments staged.
Three of the world’s five top-ranked teams competed at the SheBelieves Cup in the USA, while the Algarve Cup and the Cyprus Cup provided some thrilling action in Europe. This year's editions also served an am important barometer for qualification for the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™.
The European sides are already well into their campaigns for a place in France next summer. Now, though, the key for those sides hoping to participate is to get their performance levels up and go into the next round of qualifiers in the right shape. FIFA.com looks back over the last few weeks in the women’s game.
Hosts celebrate, Germany struggle
Following victory in 2016, USA lifted the SheBelieves Cup for a second time. England, Germany and France were the other participants in the four-team tournament, which culminated in the Stars and Stripes triumphing thanks to a 1-0 win over the Three Lionesses. The game was settled in unfortunate circumstances by a Karen Bardsley own goal but it was a landmark occasion nonetheless for two-time FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year Carli Lloyd, who captained the side on her 250th international appearance. In their previous two matches at the event, the Americans had drawn with France 1-1 and beaten Germany 1-0.
The Germans, meanwhile, had a rather less successful time of things. Steffi Jones’ charges suffered a comprehensive 3-0 loss to France and ended the tournament in last place without a win to their name, a 1-0 defeat to USA and a 2-2 draw with England completing their results. The reverse against Les Bleues was Germany’s heaviest defeat in almost eight years.
Final standings: USA (7 points), England, France (both 4), Germany (1)
A landmark occasion with two champions
The anniversary edition of the prestigious Algarve Cup [this year was the 25th staging of the tournament] ended with an historic result: for the first time in the tournament’s history, two teams were crowned champions. On account of an unplayable pitch due to persistent rainfall, the final between the Netherlands and Sweden was cancelled. The tournament organisers therefore decided to declare both finalists as winners. “It’s regrettable that we couldn’t get the final played,” said Oranje coach Sarina Wiegman after the decision to call off the match. “But the organisers made a logical decision with regards to the safety of the players.”
In reaching the final, Wiegman’s reigning European champions impressed in Group C and topped the standings after two wins (6-2 against Japan and 3-2 against Denmark) and a draw (0-0 against Iceland). In Group B, the Swedes put in an equally strong display across their three matches, beating Canada (3-1) and Russia (3-0), and drawing 1-1 with Korea Repbublic.
Meanwhile, China PR had to settle for 11th place, while Iceland matched their performance from 2017 in finishing ninth. Canada, champions in 2016, finished fifth after a 2-0 victory against Japan, while Portugal took third following their 2-1 win over Australia.
Spain edge Italy in Cyprus
In the final of the eighth edition of the Cyprus Cup, Spain and Italy met in a clash between two European heavyweights. And after an engrossing 90 minutes, it was the Spanish who were left celebrating. Amanda Sampedro and Patri Guijarro scored the goals in a 2-0 win that gave La Furia Roja their second international trophy following last year's victory at the Algarve Cup.
Jorge Vida’s side had already signalled their intent with three impressive results in the group stage. A 2-0 success over Austria, a goalless draw with Belgium and a 2-0 win against Czech Republic saw them top the group and book their place in the final. They now appear in very good shape for their two qualifiers for France 2019 against Finland and Austria in April.
The Austrians ended up in seventh in the Cyprus Cup, while Korea DPR repeated their third-placed finish in 2017 by beating Switzerland 2-1.