PERUSING the press and broadcasting coverage of the Fifa Women’s World Cup, I detect a serious change of tone on the part of sports desks everywhere.

While there has not been the wall-to-wall overdose that last year’s male World Cup got, there is an appreciable shift in what the majority of the media are saying and doing in advance of the tournament.

They are finally giving the women the respect they deserve and I have now read dozens of articles and watched plenty videos that treat the World Cup in the manner that professional sports journalists should do. There is certainly a quantum leap forward in the amount of coverage that the 2019 tournament is getting compared to 2015 and earlier.

Now you might say that’s long overdue considering this is the eighth edition of the Women’s World Cup, but at least it is happening and there is certainly much more coverage in Scotland, all thanks to Shelley Kerr and her brilliant squad qualifying for France. It must be said that the Lionesses of England have also precipitated a rise in the London-centric media’s coverage of the tournament, so kudos to them and they will do well, even if, as you will see, I don’t think they will win.

Sure there will still be plenty of men dismissing the tournament as second-class diddy stuff, but you won’t hear them voicing that opinion too loudly because they know they are in the minority. And anyway, they are just plain wrong.

So who is going to win and how will Scotland perform?

The latter first – being realistic, and that’s the way all sport should be treated, Scotland will find it very difficult to qualify from the group stages but it is absolutely not impossible. I can’t see them finishing in the top two of the group to automatically qualify, so the most probable route is to go through as one of the four best third-placed teams, and that is certainly achievable.

If you go by the Fifa World Rankings, Scotland are ranked 20th in the world while our principal opponents England and Japan are rated third and seventh. The other team in our Group D is Argentina and they are ranked 37th. But hang on a moment, look at the date of latest rankings table – March 29, since when there have been several developments, not the least of which was England losing a warm-up match to New Zealand who are ranked just one place ahead of Scotland at 19th. So England are not invincible.

Japan’s last three matches saw them lose to France and draw with Germany and Spain so we do not know whether they are in form or not - the 2011 winners do tend to blow hot and cold, so hopefully they will be Baltic when they meet us a week today.

By that time we – you see, it’s catching – will have played England and much though I would love to see Scotland winning, I think the best we can hope for against the English women is a draw.

We have the players to rattle England and the English squad know that from playing alongside the likes of Kim Little and Erin Cuthbert in the FA Women’s Super League, so maybe, just maybe, we can sneak a draw. Please, please prove me wrong and get that win.

A draw against either England or Japan would set us up nicely for the match against Argentina which will most probably decide if we advance to the last 16 or not. Beating 10th ranked Brazil showed that Scotland need not fear any South American team and the Argentine women’s squad have had a disrupted preparation to say the least, with the national team being put in suspension while the Argentinean FA sorted out the thorny issue of paying women to play in that country - the squad went on strike because they were only getting £4 a day.

The dispute was only settled in March, so the women’s professional league is only kicking off this month amid huge misogyny that is openly expressed by male fans and pundits alike.

In the circumstances, coach Carlos Borrello did wonders to get them to the tournament, though they had to qualify via a playoff against Panama. They lost to South Korea, Australia and New Zealand in the FFA Cup of Nations in Australia in March before securing a 3-1 win over Uruguay, ranked 74th in the world, in their final warm-up game.

They will have a point to prove, perhaps, but Scotland have the players and the form to secure three points against Argentina, and that will be the key to our women doing at the first attempt what our men have never managed in eight World Cup finals - make it past the group stage.

As to who will win the tournament, I am not going to make the same mistake I made before last year’s men’s World Cup and dismiss England’s chances while plumping for Germany. On all known form, you would have to say the trophy will be going either to the USA or Germany, but unless Scotland surprise them, England have a straightforward route to the semi-finals and anything can happen after that.

Yet for reasons such as home advantage, the big improvement in their playing squad and being in form at the right time, I am going for France to win the cup.

Vive la Vielle Alliance!