FIFA Women's World Cup
World Cup NOW: Denmark wins despite being outplayed by China
FIFA Women's World Cup

World Cup NOW: Denmark wins despite being outplayed by China

Updated Jul. 22, 2023 11:09 a.m. ET

It took all of 90 minutes to decide it, but Denmark just slid past China, 1-0, in Saturday's 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup opener for both teams. 

Amalie Vansgaard was the clutch catalyst for Denmark, which earned three points for their efforts in what was very nearly a 0-0 draw. Vansgaard snuck her way into perfect position on a corner kick, playing a lob into the back of the net in what proved to be the decisive score.

Despite Denmark's win, though, some believed that China played the better brand of football throughout the match. The World Cup NOW crew — Jimmy Conrad, Stu Holden and Melissa Ortiz — all shared this opinion, and broke down why that was the case.

Conrad: "China surprised me. I was — maybe my expectations were a little bit lower for them — but … I thought their passing was very crisp. … And they seemed to have some ideas of how they wanted to play and how they wanted to build up from the back to the front. Maybe lacked a little bit of being dangerous in and around the goal … but I thought they played better than Denmark, Denmark just made that one play on a set piece that made the difference."


Ortiz: "I absolutely agree. I think China frustrated Denmark throughout the entirety of the match. They went to try to execute a game plan, but all they could really do, especially in the past 20 minutes, is try to loft balls in the air and try to go to the target forward Pernille Harder. And at the end, I mean it proved correct. Because of that, they were able to get a corner kick, and then of course score off a corner kick, so they threw everything right at the wall, and it finally proved successful. But from the preview that we see from Denmark, I think that they are going to have a very challenging World Cup based off today's performance. I would walk away from this if I was a player, very frustrated today.

Holden: "It was an interesting game. I really agree in the sense that China played with such an intensity and tempo that for many stretches of the game, Denmark couldn't really hang with them. But they couldn't find that goal. …  It took until halftime for them to bring my player to watch, Wang Shuang, off the bench, she had a bit of an impact as well. But … for Denmark, they didn't start playing until the last 10 minutes of the game."

Ortiz: "I 100% agree with you on China, on how they performed way better. Their defensive, their compactness that they showed today [stood out]."

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