Oranje women kick off World Cup with first match against New Zealand

High level of stress during sport events can be fatal (Dutch football supporters) Photo by Дмитрий Неймырок/Dmitriy Neymyrok/Dmitrij Nejmyrok/Wikimedia Commons

The Oranje women are kicking off their World Cup journey with their first match against New Zealand in Le Havre on Tuesday afternoon. The Dutch national women's team had their last training session, with the full selection, on Monday and are excited to get started.

The Dutch team is participating in the World Cup as the European champions. With that comes a lot of high expectations, especially from the Dutch public, coach Sarina Wiegman said to NOS. She prefers to temper expectations herself, with a quite modest objective. "End as high as possible", Wiegman said to the broadcaster. "We mainly want to show that we can play good football. But we are obliged to our supporters to get through the group phase."

Star player Lieke Martens is also trying to remain level-headed about Oranje's chances. "Since the European Championships, many players have continued to develop and we have progressed as a team. But the others do not stand still either", she said to the broadcaster. According to Martens, there are many strong contenders in this tournament. "We are not a favorite, but we have a lot of quality. It will be an interesting tournament, I think."

All 23 Oranje women seemed to be fit and ready during their last training session in the pouring rain in Stade Jules Ladoumegue on Monday, according to NU.nl. The only player who will definitely not play in Tuesday's match is Anouk Dekker. The central defender is suspended for a match due to a red card in the play-offs against Switzerland, according to the newspaper. Kika van Es is the only other doubtful case. The 27-year-old left back broke a bone in her hand during a match against Australia and therefore missed part of the group training last week. Van Es trained with a brace around her left forearm, with which she can also play matches. 

The chances in the Women's World Cup are difficult to estimate, according to NOS. Women's football is developing extremely fast worldwide, which means that relationships can quickly change. The knowledge about women's teams is generally also lower than about their male counterparts. 

NOS football commentator Frank Wielaard is cautiously optimistic about Oranje's chances. "I estimate the odds as I did for the European Championship", he said. "At the time, I didn't think we would be champions and we know how that ended." According to Wielaard, Oranje is among the best six teams in the tournament. "Together with America, Germany, France, Australia and Japan. And behind them are England and Spain." He believes that "the world title is possible", with hard work and a bit of luck.

Gracenote, a company that provides sports statistics to the media, calculated the odds for this World Cup based on past matches. According to the agency, France has the best chance of winning the World Cup at 22 percent, followed by America at 14 percent and Germany at 12 percent. The Netherlands is in eighth place with 4 percent. Website Oddschecker, which keeps track of the odds offered by different betting offices, also says that France has the best chance of winning the World Cup, followed by America and England. The Netherlands is fifth on that list.

Oranje's match against New Zealand kicks off at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday at the Stade Oceane in Le Havre. The stadium has a capacity of 25 thousand. An estimated 15 thousand spectators, including at least 5,100 Dutch, are expected to attend, according to NU.nl.

Oranje's other opponents in Group E are Cameroon on June 15th in Valenciennes and Canada on June 20th in Reims. The numbers one and two and the four best numbers three of the six groups will qualify for the knockout phase. Four years ago, the eighth final was where it ended for Oranje.