Three tournaments to get excited about in 2018
The development of women’s soccer continues apace and the way the game is growing continues to excite and amaze everyone involved. 2018 does not have a senior World Cup or European Championship to really get the pulses racing but still looks set to continue women’s soccer on a path to the top of people’s minds. There are both club and International games to look forward to and get excited about this year.
One of the most exciting themes of this year is the number of international youth tournaments where we will get the opportunity to see young players come through and impress on what is, for them, likely the biggest stage they will have played on up until that point. It is the chance to watch a player and then say, I saw them first, as they light up a senior World Cup or secure a lucrative move to one of the big sides. The strides women’s soccer has taken has led to all the FIFA and regional tournaments being superb and well run meaning 2018 will be a fantastic year.
Another sign of the huge steps taken by everyone involved in women’s soccer is the fact that it is now a legitimate and big part of bookmakers offerings. A few years ago, if you wanted to try your luck with betting on soccer matches involving women you would have been plum out of luck with little focus and few markets involving the women’s game. However now it is becoming as popular as the men’s variety with the vast majority of bookmakers offering great odds and interesting bets for people who want to put their women’s football knowledge to good use and bet on women’s soccer.
2018 will be chocked full of great games but there are three tournaments in particular that look set to get people out of their seats and buzzing about the strength and quality of women’s soccer. They take place on three different continents illustrating just how far and wide the spread of women’s soccer has been and how much it has grown.
CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Championships:
Featured sporting powerhouses in the United States and Canada as well as offered us the chance to see developing nations like Costa Rica and Mexico, the CONCACAF U-20 Championships began on the 18th January and showcased the best talent in North and Central American soccer as the teams converge on Trinidad and Tobago. Of course the United States were favourites but it was Mexico who came out on top and the tournament is as much about talent spotting and development as it is about who wins. It is the chance to see who is going to be the next Carli Lloyd or Christine Sinclair and helps smaller nations to develop and get better against top competition.
It was particularly interesting to see the progress of Sophia Smith, the 17 year old who has already been called up to the full senior US squad and who knows where the back of the net is. The attacking star was excited to show what she can do.
The Women’s Champions League:
UEFA and arguably club soccers premier competition continues apace in 2018 with the knockout stages beginning with the Quarter finals which have thrown up some superb ties to be played at the end of March. Lyon will be hoping to secure back to back titles and will be favourites for their tie against Barcelona while Manchester City will be aiming to break the French stranglehold on the title but will have to get past Swedish side Linkoping first. The men’s champions league has become a procession of the same names every year but the women’s competition keeps throwing up new names and this year’s edition should be great.
AFC Women’s Asian Cup:
With both emerging power China and current superstar side Japan in this tournament it should be very exciting. Women’s soccer in Asia is growing at a very fast rate and that will make this the best every edition of the AFC championship. Hosted this year in Jordan it will be a great test for the sides hoping to making an impression at next year’s World Cup in France and will serve as great preparation. Australia will be hoping to make a real splash and prove they are now a contender for top titles. It will be played in April and the top five teams will secure their place in France, it should be a brilliant tournament.