Women's World Cup Team of the Group Stage: Kerr and Renard shine as Morgan misses out

Lucy Bronze | Sam Kerr | Wendie Renard
Getty / Goal
As we enter the competition's knockout rounds, Goal picks out the best XI of players from the opening stage of the tournament in France

  1. GK | Vanina Correa

    GK | Vanina Correa

    Amidst the ‘smaller goals’ debate and criticism of goalkeeping in women’s football, Vanina Correa has put in three outstanding performances for Argentina, saving 11 of the 15 shots she’s faced.

    After keeping a clean sheet against Japan, the 2011 champions and 2015 runners-up, she couldn’t keep England at bay, but certainly did her best – her save to deny Nikita Parris from the spot the pick of six stops in a 1-0 defeat. 

    Scotland goalkeeper Lee Alexander summed up Correa’s displays, saying: “You look at performances like [Correa’s vs England] and you can't want to drop the goal height.”

  2. RB | Lucy Bronze

    RB | Lucy Bronze

    Doubts were raised over Lucy Bronze’s defensive competency going into this tournament, since her switch to attack-minded Lyon, but the right-back has been as sturdy as ever for England in the group stages – with a 100 per cent success rate from her 10 tackles.

    There were no doubts about her world-class ability going forward though, and she has shown why, linking up brilliantly with Nikita Parris down the right.

    Her ability to whip in a teasing cross has been evident throughout the group games and, combined with her tireless surges forward, has helped her create six chances from defence.

  3. CB | Wendie Renard

    CB | Wendie Renard

    Few players have dominated the headlines of this World Cup so far like France’s Wendie Renard.

    After netting her first two goals in the competition to help France win their opening game against South Korea, she scored an own goal against Norway and then converted a penalty against Nigeria – albeit, on her second attempt, having hit the post before VAR controversially ordered a retake.

    But that goal from the spot showed her great character, emphatically winning the game for France after her initial miss, and she has been solid as ever defensively, winning 100% of her tackles (two) and aerial duels (nine). 

  4. CB | Dominique Bloodworth

    CB | Dominique Bloodworth

    Having had yet another solid season at Arsenal, winning the FA Women’s Super League and reaching the WSL Cup final before sealing a move to Wolfsburg, Dominique Bloodworth has carried that form into the World Cup.

    A model of consistency and reliable as ever, the 24 year old showed her class as the Netherlands won all three group games – even finding the net against Cameroon.

    Winning three of her five tackles and two of her three headers, she’s not been tested much defensively, but has had the answers to any questions posed in Group E.

  5. LB | Giulia Gwinn

    LB | Giulia Gwinn

    Giulia Gwinn was Germany’s unlikely hero in their opening fixture against China, scoring the only goal of the game with a powerful strike to make it a World Cup debut to remember.

    Since then, she’s been rotated around the team – playing at left-wing, left-back and right-back in just three games.

    Being a natural winger, the 19 year old’s attacking instincts have made her a danger going forward from any position - with one goal, one assist and four chances created - but she has been an asset in defence too, winning six of her nine tackles in a trio of tenacious displays.

  6. CM | Amandine Henry

    CM | Amandine Henry

    Arguably the best midfielder in the world, Amandine Henry has been outstanding for France so far, and she’s barely got out of second gear.

    Her high-pressing against South Korea caught the eye, as did her goal and assist, while her performance against Norway was even more impressive given the talent in the Scandinavians’ engine room. Against Nigeria, the 29-year-old won the ball back an incredible 12 times.

    Henry has won seven of her 10 tackles, 12 of 15 headers and created eight chances, but insists she is still not at her best yet; an exciting thought as France move into the knockout rounds.

  7. CM | Manuela Giugliano

    CM | Manuela Giugliano

    No one has more assists at this summer’s tournament than Manuela Giugliano, whose pinpoint set pieces have helped Italy shock Group C and progress to the last 16.

    But the 21-year-old’s displays in holding midfield have been key to her side only conceding twice in the process too, with seven tackles and 22 recoveries to her name after three games.

    Giugliano has been a surprise to many for her displays, but not those who she plays with. Last summer, team-mate Eleonora Goldoni explained to Calcio Mercato that the youngster’s “imagination and originality” is what is most impressive, declaring: “It’s a little Pirlo!”

  8. CM | Sam Mewis
    Alex Grimm

    CM | Sam Mewis

    Sam Mewis was benched for the USA's clash with Chile, despite two goals and two assists in the 13-0 thrashing of Thailand, but her fresh legs were crucial as she starred in the victory over Sweden that assured top spot in Group F.

    She created five chances in the holders’ first real test of the tournament and flicked on Megan Rapinoe’s corner to Lindsey Horan for the opening goal, putting her joint-top of the assists charts so far.

    Positive and creative going forward, but combative and determined when her side have been on the back foot, Mewis has emerged as one of the team’s best players moving into the knockout stages.

  9. RW | Janine Beckie

    RW | Janine Beckie

    No player created more chances in the group stages than Janine Beckie, despite Canada having one of the toughest groups at the tournament.

    The 24-year-old was a constant threat for full-backs and provided a wonderful assist from a floated corner delivery for Kadeisha Buchanan’s crucial header in the 1-0 win over Cameroon.

    Beckie’s productivity in the final third and desire to drive at defenders will be key for Canada as they move into the knockout rounds too, with success in a tricky Sweden test likely to pave the way for a quarter-final against Germany.

  10. ST | Sam Kerr

    ST | Sam Kerr

    The group stages were a rollercoaster ride for Australia, with them eventually pulling through in second after Sam Kerr’s incredible four-goal haul against Jamaica.

    The striker scored the Matildas’ first goal of the tournament, and her first ever in a World Cup, in the opening 2-1 defeat to Italy, and put in a terrific display in the comeback win over Brazil as well.

    Speaking after his side’s 4-1 loss to the Aussies, Jamaica coach Hue Menzies said of Kerr: "The kid is just resilient, she’s a goal scorer, she plays for her badge and her country. I love her attitude, particularly in the box, you can’t teach that."

  11. LW | Barbara Bonansea
    Getty Images

    LW | Barbara Bonansea

    Italy shocked the sport by kicking their tournament off with a 2-1 win over Australia - but the scoreline flattered the Matildas, with Barbara Bonansea unlucky not to leave with a hat-trick, rather than a brace, after she was ruled inches offside after slotting home on nine minutes.

    Against Jamaica, her high-pressing and great driving with the ball was evident again, winning a penalty for her side’s first goal in their 5-0 rout.

    No one has won possession back in the final third more often than the 28-year-old, who has also won three of her six tackles and three of her five headers – proving an asset in all areas.