Who are the favourites to win the 2019 Womens World Cup? - Guide
The Women's World Cup promises to be a celebration of the beautiful game, but who will ultimately end up on top?
In case you haven’t heard, the eighth edition of the Women’s World Cup gets underway on Friday June 7 when hosts France play South Korea in Paris.
In what promises to be the best tournament to date, 24 participating countries from six continents, record crowds, VAR and big-named sponsors will ensure it’s definitely the biggest.
These nations, who have all qualified to be in France, are split into six groups of four with the top-two and four best third-placed teams advancing to the last-16.
Played across nine different cities, the mission will be to reach the showpiece final in Lyon’s 59,186-seater Parc Olympique stadium on July 7.
More importantly though, the aim of everyone involved will be to inspire a new generation of young girls across the world to play the beautiful game.
The United States are the holders and have won the tournament a record three times but are they the frontrunners to win once again?
FOOTY.com looks at the favourites to lift the famous trophy.
The record three-time winners are once again one of the frontrunners to reign supreme. Managed by their 2015 winning coach Jill Ellis, who was actually born in England (Portsmouth), Team USA are still the top ranked team. They qualified for this summer’s tournament by winning the 2018 CONCACAF Championship on home soil, where they defeated Canada 2-0 in the final. Since winning the World Cup four years ago their form has been formidable, winning 65 of 79 internationals and losing just five. There has been a slight chink in the USWNT’s armour since the turn of the year as they’ve failed to beat close competitors France, Japan and England. But, as past World Cups show, they always turn up when it really matters.
KEY PLAYER: Alex Morgan is certainly the USA’s biggest weapon. The 29-year-old striker has netted 101 goals in 163 caps and her country has never lost a match when the Orlando Pirates star has scored.
FIXTURES: Thailand (June, 11 – Reims), Chile (June 16 – Paris), Sweden (June 20, Le Havre)
Despite boasting one of Europe’s best leagues and the best club team in Lyon, who have won four Champions League crowns in a row, hosts France have never lived up to expectations at major tournaments. Les Bleues failed to qualify for four of the first five World Cups and their best finish came in 2011 when they finished fourth. Four years ago they were backed to go far before losing to Germany in the quarter-finals on penalties but their recent form under coach and former defender, Corinne Diacre, has been excellent. Since March 2018 they’ve won 13 of 15 matches in which time they’ve defeated Brazil, Australia, Germany, United States and Japan. Going into this competition, the world’s fourth ranked team will be hoping home advantage will help them finally deliver what’s been expected of them for so long.
KEY PLAYER: Eugenie le Sommer will once again be the player expected to lead from the front. Now 30, the forward is her country’s third-highest scorer of all-time with 74 goals, just seven short of Marinette Pichon’s leading 81.
FIXTURES: South Korea (June, 7 – Paris), Norway (June 12 – Nice), Nigeria (June 17, Rennes)
Sitting second in the world rankings and having appeared in all seven World Cups to date, Germany are one of the teams to beat. Qualifying with ease after seven wins from eight matches, they will be aiming to match the United States by lifting the trophy for a third time in their eighth finals appearance. Although twice winners in 2003 and 2007, Die Nationalelf have since been knocked out at the quarter-final and semi-final stage. But since the appointment of coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg in November 2018, they are unbeaten and, back in February, actually won a friendly 1-0 in France. Nine of their squad helped guide the team to Olympic gold in 2016 so have dealt with the pressure a major tournament brings. So don’t be surprised if the Germans do the most German thing and go far at a World Cup once again.
KEY PLAYER: Dzsenifer Marozsan is a player who simply has everything a midfielder could want. A scorer in the Olympic final, the playmaker, who loves to dictate and create, has 32 goals from her 90 caps.
FIXTURES: China (June, 8 – Rennes), Spain (June 12 – Valenciennes), South Africa (June 17, Montpellier)
We know it’s playing with fire tipping England to do well at a World Cup but since their third-placed finish four years ago they’ve gone from strength to strength. Playing in their fifth finals after qualifying with seven wins from eight unbeaten matches, Phil Neville has his side playing with a swagger. Having also gone close when they reached the last-four at the 2017 European Championship, the Lionesses will be desperate to get over that hurdle. And despite recent friendly defeats against Canada and New Zealand, their impressive SheBelieves Cup victory in March, where they pipped United States to the trophy on American soil, will give them huge confidence that they can be the best. A squad with a great mix of experience, young talent and players at the peak of their powers, the Lionesses are more than ready to roar in France.
KEY PLAYER: Steph Houghton is one of the finest defenders and captains around. With 104 caps under her belt, the 31-year-old’s experience, leadership and ability to pop up with an important goal will be key if the Lionesses are to achieve their dream.
FIXTURES: Scotland (June, 9 – Nice), Argentina (June 14 – Le Havre), Japan (June 19, Nice)
Don’t be too fooled by the fact that Japan enter the tournament as the world’s seventh best ranked team because history will tell you that they will be a danger to any team in France. Champions in 2011 and runners-up in 2015, Nadeshiko will be aiming to reach a third successive final. They kept up their record of appearing at every tournament so far when they won the 2018 Asian Cup but they head into the tournament not in the best of form. Since the turn of the year they have won just one of their six matches. In that time Asako Takakura’s side have lost 3-0 to England, who they will face in Group D, and 3-1 to France. A lot of that could be down to a new-look squad in which 14 of their 23 players are aged 23 or under. A World Cup brings unique pressure but if those young players thrive with having the weight of a football mad nation behind them then they could definitely turn a few heads.
KEY PLAYER: Saki Kumagai is the captain and one of the more experienced members with 104 caps. Her defensive know-how and winning mentality at both club and international level will be crucial in a squad which has 11 players with less than 20 caps.
FIXTURES: Argentina (June, 10 – Paris), Scotland (June 14 – Rennes), England (June 19, Nice)
Despite being synonymous with football, the Netherlands will be taking part in just their second World Cup this summer. In their first finals appearance Oranje reached the last-16 before losing 2-1 to eventual finalists Japan. But four years on the Dutch are a far better outfit and have since shown they can rise to the occasion by winning the 2017 European Championship. Since that victorious night in Enschede, Sarina Wiegman’s side have lost just four of their 24 matches. Qualification to France ’19 wasn’t as straightforward as they would’ve hoped though as they had to win a two-round play-off after finishing second to Norway in their group. With goals and creativity in every area of the squad, the side ranked eighth in the world can defeat any opponent on their day.
KEY PLAYER: Vivianne Miedema is probably the most lethal finisher in the game. The reigning PFA Women’s Player of the Year has bagged 58 goals in 75 caps and needs just once more to equal Netherlands’ all-time leading scorer Manon Melis at the age of 22.
FIXTURES: New Zealand (June, 11 – Le Havre), Cameroon (June 15 – Valenciennes), Canada (June 20, Reims)
Brazil, fronted by the legendary Marta, Australia, led by superstar Sam Kerr, and Spain, with their wonderful possession based game, are amongst the other teams to keep an eye on. But in truth it would be a huge shock if the winner didn’t come from one of our super six. Though now is the time to forget about all that and for all the talking to stop. Let’s just enjoy what promises to be a fantastic summer and celebration of women’s football.
Oh, and come on England!