Let’s deal with the format issues first. There are 12 teams in the women’s competition, divided into three groups of four. Of these groups, the first two automatically advance to the quarter-finals, as well as the two best teams classified third. These groups are counterintuitively known as Groups E, F, and G (Groups A, B, C, and D are full of male teams and play in a different competition). The British group is the first of these, which besides Chile includes Japan and Canada. The GB squad only meets every four years and therefore doesn’t have a world ranking, but England’s is six years old and in theory it has been bolstered by a small transfusion of additional talent. Chile have 37, Japan 10 and Canada 8. In other words, if they want to progress, this is a game Great Britain will want to win.
Besides Chile, they also have to fight against heat (around 30 ° C according to forecasts) and intense humidity. But they seem confident. “I think we have to go for gold,” said Caroline Weir, one of two Scottish and only three non-England players from the 22-person squad. “Of course, we know there are challenges ahead. It will be a tough tournament. And there are all the things we’re going to have to struggle with. But the team has talent. We have to dig for gold and see what happens.
The other groups, with the Fifa rankings in brackets, are:
Group F: China (15), Brazil (7), Zambia (104), Netherlands (4)
Group G: Sweden (5), United States (1), Australia (9), New Zealand (22)
Less than an hour after the kick-off of this China-Brazil and Sweden-US match will also have started, and after that it’s all gone. Well, after the opening ceremony on Friday, it’s really gone. It’s just a bit before the start, really. Anyway, and above all, welcome! Let’s do this Olympic thing!