Get to know the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023

With the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 kicking off in Australia and New Zealand, the typical questions begin to arise. Who are the favourites? Are there any dark horse nations? Any teams to watch heading into the tournament? Who are some standout players? Last year saw record attendance and broadcasting numbers in women’s football at major events.With the 2023 World Cup being the first to feature 32 teams, it is set to be an impressive spectacle. 

Who are the favourites?

Given the fact they are currently two-time defending champions, it is difficult to look past the United States of America. The US is constantly developing and producing world class talent. As a result this has led to the Americans winning four out of the eight FIFA Women’s World Cups. The current squad is naturally overflowing with talent, with many players playing in the highly competitive local National Women’s Super League.

This demonstrates not only the strength of the league and players, but also highlights the coherency to expect from the national team. The one minor drawback for the U.S. could be the age of some players, with includes stars such as Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan coming into the twilight of their careers. Regardless of this, the US still boasts an incredibly strong team, who, despite a disappointing bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics, is still the two-time defending champion and is therefore a tournament favourite. 

Another favourite, albeit less so than the US, is the current European champions England. Unfortunately, since the Lionesses’ success at the 2022 Euros, things have taken a turn for the worse. Arguably England’s best player and attacker Beth Mead will miss the tournament due to a cruciate knee injury. This is true also for England’s defensive rock and captain Leah Williamson, who also suffered the same injury in April.

However, fortunately, the Lionesses’ biggest strength is arguably their togetherness. England’s coach Sarina Wiegman has long been praised for her knack for building a positive environment atop her coaching experience, and she rightly won FIFA’s Best Women’s Coach for 2022.

Furthermore, the majority of England’s players play in the Women’s Super League (WSL). Moreover, many play for the strongest side in the division, Chelsea, and this once again strengthens their ability to excel as a squad. Undoubtedly this is a team to watch this tournament.   

Dark Horses and possible under-performers  

This tournament features several strong teams yet to be mentioned, for example, recent European semifinalists Sweden, finalists Germany, and Olympic gold medalists Canada. Notably, these are three sides who, as of late, have seriously outshone their male counterparts, particularly Germany. However, one nation that may go under the radar is Australia. A host nation alongside New Zealand, Australia may yet surprise many at this upcoming World Cup.

Many will be aware of Sam Kerr, who is possibly the best striker in the world currently. A prolific scorer for both club (Chelsea) and country, Sam Kerr has often been a talismanic presence capable of dragging Australia through games. However, Australia is far from one-dimensional and boasts further experience and talent, such as Ellie Carpenter.

A speedy defender who excels at attacking as well, Carpenter is a fixed starter for Olympique Lyonnais Féminin, who has been one of the best women’s club side in world football since the 2010s. Australia also defeated England 2-0 in a friendly in April, proving they are no pushovers, and are potential underdogs for this World Cup. 

However, one nation that may under-perform is Spain. Spain has suffered from internal turmoil in recent months, with problems surrounding head coach Jorge Vilda and a 15-player mutiny scandal. In 2022, 15 players emailed the Spanish Football Federation stating their decision to retire from international duty, as they felt there was a lack of support from their coach that was debilitating to their mental health. Unfortunately, the Spanish Football Federation refused to sack Vilda and firmly believed the players needed to apologize if they wished to return. 

As it stands going into the World Cup, three of the players have apologized and returned. However, much controversy still surrounds the Spanish side, which could very well affect their World Cup. An impressively gifted squad, but certainly not a harmonious one, Spain may well under-perform in relation to the immense talent they possess. 

Players to watch

Getting the ball rolling is Alexia Putellas of Spain. Currently the best player in the world, Putellas is a complete midfielder with an eye for goal. Having missed the 2022 Euros through injury, she will be a player to watch in this tournament. The aforementioned Kerr is another star who will be stealing headlines in her home nation. But, her Chelsea teammate Lauren James is also one to watch. Only 21, James has already played for Arsenal, Manchester United and now Chelsea, and with her level of ability and the fame she has already attained, she has the world at her feet.   

Another attacker is Jamaica’s goal machine, Khadija Shaw. Shaw finished as the second top goal-scorer in the WSL for Manchester City, and she will hope to take this form into the World Cup.

Finally, there is the Brazilian marvel Marta. Once the best player in the world, the 2023 World Cup will be Marta’s sixth World Cup. Although she is no longer the prolific threat she once was, Marta has not lost her magic touch and incredible natural ability. Among all of these stars, Marta is perhaps the one to truly watch and admire, as she has said the 2023 World Cup will sadly be her last. 

A historic World Cup

The 2023 Women’s World Cup is set to be an incredible spectacle for the masses, and given the surge in interest in the women’s game in recent years, this World Cup may yet prove to be one to remember. The largest World Cup in the history of the women’s game, this will be the greatest opportunity for the best players from around the world to showcase their abilities.

Although the United States is the likely favourite – alongside a weakened but still frighteningly good England side – this World Cup will no doubt produce upsets and excitement throughout. A fantastic opportunity for the women’s game, and another World Cup for fans to sink their teeth into. The 2023 Women’s World Cup has arrived.  

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