In this photo dated July 7, 2019, American players carry the trophy as they celebrate beating The Netherlands in the Women’s World Cup championship game at the Stade de Lyon in Decines, outside of Lyon, France. The 2023 Women’s World Cup will take place in nine cities in Australia and New Zealand.
The Women’s World Cup will begin on Thursday in Australia and New Zealand, marking the first time the competition has been held in two nations, with a newly increased field of 32 teams.
The top players in the world compete for the biggest prize in women’s football. Here’s what you need to know.
The United States is once again ranked first in the world, but it is a squad in transition.
The United States will be aiming to win its fifth World Cup championship overall and third consecutively.
The USWNT is the current top-rated team in FIFA and is predicted to be the slight favourite to win their upcoming match. Nevertheless, this year’s tournament is expected to be open and could see multiple teams vying for the championship title.
It was an odd pattern for the USWNT to win the World Cup and lose at the Olympics. Their failure to win a medal at the 2016 Olympics followed their victory at the World Cup in 2015. They recovered, though, by winning the 2019 World Cup and earning a bronze medal at the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The intensity and expectations of the events, shifting competition, and the conditions of the players are just a few of the causes of this inconsistency. The USWNT is still one of the most renowned and successful football teams in the world, nonetheless.
On average, compared to past tournaments, the U.S. team is less seasoned at the international level this time around. Becky Sauerbrunn, Samantha Mewis, and Christen Press were among the veterans whose expertise had been relied upon but were left off the squad owing to injury.
The United States will compete against Portugal, Vietnam, and the Netherlands in Group E. The team will play every game in New Zealand during the group stage.
Nine players on this year’s U.S. roster were a part of the 2019 winning team, including Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, and Julie Ertz. Several USWNT veterans are returning for the World Cup, and this will be Rapinoe’s last tournament.
This is Rapinoe’s fourth and final World Cup, as she revealed this month that she will retire at the conclusion of the NWSL season.
Rapinoe, a forward, made his name known at the 2019 tournament in France. She competed against then-President Trump and won both the Golden Boot for most goals scored and the Golden Ball for best player in France.
Only five players were on the roster when it won the trophy in 2015, whereas nine were on the winning team in 2019. Rapinoe, the team’s oldest player at 38, is. (What hue is her hair this time? Beautiful icy blue.) Alyssa Thompson, a forward, is its youngest at 18 years old.
Alex Morgan, a 34-year-old attacker with two World Cup victories, and Lindsey Horan, a 29-year-old midfielder who was instrumental in the team’s success in 2019, will serve as captains.
The tournament is being cohosted by Australia and New Zealand in the winter, which means early mornings. If you want to see the tournament begin, you should set an alarm.
At noon in Auckland, which is 3 a.m. ET, New Zealand and Norway will play their opening match. Australia plays Ireland at 8 p.m. in Sydney, which is 6 a.m. ET, after that.
The Women’s World Cup will be staged in the southern hemisphere for the first time ever during this event. This implies that this Cup will be the first to be played in the winter, despite the fact that much of the United States has been sweltering through an extremely hot summer.
Given that snow earlier this month shut down portions of the South Island’s motorways, New Zealand’s weather may be a fascinating element in matches played there. Expect to see players wearing bulky coats and tights on the sidelines due to the expected cold weather and wind.
American World Cup debutants are expected to leave a lasting impression.
“You want to have this broad range of experience in players on the roster at a World Cup,” said American defender Kelley O’Hara, who participated in her maiden World Cup in 2011. “You need some players with experience. It’s important to have some guys making their debuts.
For 14 of the Americans on the team, such is the situation. Forwards Trinity Rodman and Sophia Smth are two players that are poised to have a significant influence.
Rodman, the second-youngest player on the USWNT roster at 21, scored two goals in the team’s warm-up game against Wales. Meanwhile, Smith, 22, was crowned U.S. Soccer’s 2022 Female Player of the Year and has also been featured in a recent Nike advertisement.
The team’s newest members might be crucial, as Rapinoe recovers from a calf injury and midfielder Rose Lavelle from a knee injury.
Eight nations will participate in the inaugural Women’s World Cup.
The number of teams competing for the cup has increased from 24 to 32 this year.
With those extra spots available, eight teams—the Philippines, Ireland, Zambia, Haiti, Vietnam, Portugal, Panama, and Morocco—will compete in the tournament for the first time.
Zambia, which also hasn’t participated in a men’s World Cup, is a nation to keep an eye on. The Copper Queens, led by star forward Barbra Banda, defeated Germany, ranked second, 3-2 in a friendly earlier this month. Banda scored twice.
However, Zambia is in a challenging group with Spain and Japan, so make sure to catch them in the group stage.
Brazil aims to win a championship for Marta
One of the most well-known soccer players in the world, Marta has won the title of world player of the year six times. But she has yet to win a World Cup, and at 37, this might be her last chance. Marta may begin the tournament on the bench, according to the team’s manager, former USWNT coach Pia Sundhage, who is on the squad but recovering from a knee injury.
The club aims to accomplish what Argentina’s men’s team achieved for Lionel Messi by winning the title and capping a legendary player’s career, according to her teammate, midfielder Kerolin.
On a podcast last month, Kerolin stated, “What they did for Lionel Messi, we want to do it for Marta,” according to The Associated Press. For who she is, “She deserves it.”