Germany are huge favourites to start their Women’s World Cup campaign with a win over debutants Morocco in Group H, with their meeting kicking off at 9.30am at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium on Monday. We preview the game and pick out a couple of betting options…
The Germans, who were runners-up to England in last summer’s European Championships, are one of the strongest teams in the tournament and are expected to comfortably win their group, which also contains Colombia and South Korea.
They are looking to preserve their proud 100% record of always qualifying for the World Cup knockout stages.
Anything other than an opening victory for Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s side would be a major shock, as Germany, who are ranked second in the world, take on the 72nd-ranked nation.
Germany defender Carolin Simon suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in the warm-up defeat to Zambia earlier this month and was subsequently ruled out of the tournament.
Captain Alex Popp, who has 62 goals for her country, is set to start up front, while Lea Schuller could join her in the frontline. Svenja Huth and Klara Buhl are expected to be deployed out wide for Germany, with Lina Magull operating centrally in behind.
Ghizlane Chebbak will skipper Morocco in their first-ever Women’s World Cup game and Elodie Nakkach should join her in central midfield.
Tottenham forward Rosella Ayane, who has hit seven goals in 15 appearances for her country, is one of Morocco’s best-known players and she will try to provide the threat up front for the African nation.
Correct score – Germany 2-0
Germany are expected to go far in the competition and they will have watched on as their assumed rivals for overall glory in Australia and New Zealand – England and USA – opened with victories.
They will obviously want to get off to a good start as well and taking on a Morocco side who have failed to win any of their last five games without scoring a goal is a very agreeable first group encounter.
However, Germany only edged past Vietnam in a friendly towards the end of June, winning 2-1, before suffering a shock 3-2 defeat to Zambia last time out, so this could end up being more of a hard-fought win rather than a walk in the park.
Morocco appear to be one of the weakest teams in the World Cup and a lack of goals recently is clearly a big problem going into a major tournament.
Even though their recent form is poor, they have at least remained competitive across their last five games as they have drawn 0-0 with both Italy and Switzerland, lost 1-0 to Romania and Jamaica while they went down 2-0 to Czech Republic.
Alex Popp to be first goalscorer
Popp will be determined to make sure Germany begin with a victory in their first group game and will want to lead by example by getting on the scoresheet first.
The Wolfsburg forward has 87 league goals for her club from 177 games and can usually be relied upon when Germany need her.
She played every minute of the group stage in the last World Cup in 2019, when she scored against South Africa and also netted the opener against Nigeria in the round of 16.
Last summer Popp scored both of Germany’s goals in their semi-final win against France in Euro 2022 and she ended up joint top-scorer alongside England’s Beth Mead with six in total in the tournament.