Group E in the Tokyo 2020 football event consists of host nation Japan, two-time bronze medalists Canada, Team GB and Olympic debutants Chile. The group will kick off on Wednesday 21 July, with both opening matches held back-to-back at the Sapporo Dome.
Team GB vs Chile: Weds 21st July (16:30) - Sapporo Dome
Japan vs Canada: Weds 21st July (19:30) - Sapporo Dome
In an unconventional move, groups in the women's tournament are labeled in succession with their counterparts in the men's tournament. The 16 men's teams are placed in groups A through D, with the 12 women's teams taking E, F and G.
We take a look at the four teams in Group E.
Japan (FIFA World Rank: 10th)
The host nation head into the tournament on a run of good form and a largely uninterrupted preparation period. Nadeshiko Japan’s dominant performance on Wednesday evening earned them a convincing 1-0 victory over podium rivals Australia.
In June, Japan also made light work of Ukraine and Mexico, recording 8-0 and 5-1 wins, respectively.
Coach Asako Takakura’s commitment to young players is starting to pay dividends. Hopefuls such as Moeka Minami, Hina Sugita and Jun Endo are now playing fundamental roles in Japan’s possession-based style of play. All three were included in the 2019 World Cup squad and are now returning as fully-fledged members of a settled team.
Japan set out to control games by dominating possession in their opponent’s half. Under Takakura, they have mastered a fluid passing game that enables them to maintain possession and create chances even when space is constricted.
AC Milan playmaker Yui Hasegawa plays a crucial role in this system, with her shrewd passing skills and competence and reliability with possession. Arsenal forward Mana Iwabuchi is likely to be the prime source of goals and will be the focal point of Nadeshiko’s well-worked attacking maneuvers.
Canada (FIFA World Rank: 8th)
The 2012 and 2016 back-to-back bronze medalists are sure to be aiming for gold this time around. 12 members of the Rio 2016 squad have again made the final cut as coach Bev Priestman appears to have gone with a squad largely made up of tournament veterans.
The team is also peppered with young hopefuls who have shown promising signs as of late. Skipper Christine Sinclair will be making her fourth and final Olympic appearance at Tokyo 2020 in what is sure to be an emotional curtain call.
Priestman led Les Rouges out at the 2021 edition of the She Believes Cup in her first tournament as head coach. Canada's overall performance was underwhelming, with two losses to Brazil and the United States and just a single 1-0 win against outsiders Argentina.
However, Canada have achieved a degree of consistency from their Tokyo 2020 preparation matches. They recorded a notable win over England and held World Cup runners-up Holland to an enthralling 3-3 draw earlier this week. With many of the faults highlighted at the She Believes event now seemingly addressed, the Canadians head into the Games riding a wave of momentum.
Captain Sinclair is likely to be the key attacking focal point, with Houston Dash's Nichelle Prince providing additional threats in front of goal. Canada's wealth of experience is likely to give them an edge over some of the tournament's fresher sides.
Chile (FIFA World Rank: 37th)
La Roja are making their maiden appearance at an Olympic Women’s Football tournament. With a FIFA world ranking of 37, Chile are surely the underdogs of Group E. Only 104th ranked Zambia in Group F rank lower than them at Tokyo 2020.
Chile made history at France 2019 when they earned their first World Cup win over Thailand. They are now looking to break more records by making an impact at Tokyo 2020. They will have something of a mountain to climb if they are aiming to come away with any sort of tangible reward.
Their Olympic preparations have been steady, with a 0-0 away draw with Germany in June. The South Americans secured their ticket to Tokyo 2020 with a 2-1 aggregate win over Cameroon in April this year. As a side that largely flies under the radar in women's world football, the Chileans seem to be entering something of a golden era considering their past achievements.
Le Havre AC midfielder Francisca Lara, Rayo Vallecano’s Yanara Aedo and Colo Colo forward Maria Urrutia are some of the noteworthy members that have made the trip to Japan.
Team GB (FIFA World Rank: NA)
Team GB are registering an Olympic women's football team for just the second time at Tokyo 2020. Unlike other major international competitions, the home nations of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are collectively represented by Team GB. This time around, the 18 member roster consists of 14 English nationals, 3 Scottish nationals and 1 Welsh national. Northern Ireland are not represented in the Tokyo 2020 side.
Preparations for the Games have been somewhat hindered and Team GB find themselves at something of a disadvantage due to the uninterrupted schedule of home nation Japan and gold medal favorites the United States. Their Olympic send-off match scheduled for July 1 was called off due to COVID-19 restrictions being imposed on visiting opponents, Zambia.
Coach Hege Riise, who won gold as a player with Norway at Sydney 2000, is facing the additional dilemma of assembling a side that would not play together in any other setting.
Riise was appointed interim England boss earlier this year and has had little time to implement her preferred style of play. Although Team GB boasts some of the most notable talents in the tournament, how they might fit together in a formidable footballing system is yet to be determined.
Team GB’s strength is their depth in attack. Manchester City striker Ellen White scored five goals at the 2019 World Cup and is a consistent performer at major tournaments. She is likely to be the starting forward alongside Arsenal’s Nikita Parris or club teammate Lauren Hemp.
Chelsea’s Fran Kirby is also included in the squad but is likely to bolster the midfield instead of playing the forward role she would normally assume at club level. Experienced defenders such as Steph Houghton will hold the backline in a side that is likely to take a conservative approach on their road to the podium.
Paul Merson predicts Man City vs Liverpool and other Premier League GW 29 fixtures! Click here