Women’s World Cup 2023 first look as USWNT chase three-peat

The 2022 men’s World Cup in Qatar ended in the most dramatic way imaginable. Argentina lifted their first trophy since 1986 after beating France on penalties, with Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe facing off in what will almost certainly go down as the best ever World Cup final. go down in history. But while we take some time to reflect on both the good and the bad events of 2022, we can focus on the next big thing: the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

It’s all set for the tournament, which kicks off in Australia and New Zealand on 20 July 2023, to be the most exciting to date, with European champions England in line to face the United States women’s national team. United in its defense of the world to threaten. They claimed the crown in France in 2019.

The 2023 Women’s World Cup kicks off with co-hosts New Zealand facing Norway at Eden Park in Auckland, before co-hosts Australia take on the Republic of Ireland in Sydney on the same day. What are the main things to look for in the establishment? And what will the tournament hold?

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February games

We cannot talk about the tournament without acknowledging that there are still three open spots, each of which will be determined by an international game in February.

The playoff tournament will be staged in New Zealand as a test event for the World Cup, and the 10 teams will be divided into three groups: two groups of three teams, and one group of four, based on their seeding. Each group is played as its own mini-tournament, with the winner of each group advancing to the big showdown in July.

Group A features a semi-final between Cameroon and Thailand, with the winner playing Portugal in the final. Group B hosts Senegal and Haiti, who will go head-to-head to determine who will face Chile in their final. Finally, Group C will feature two semi-finals — Chinese Taipei versus Paraguay, Papua New Guinea and Panama — with the winners of each playing in the finals and punching their ticket to the World Cup.

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Herculez Gomez and Sebastian Salazar discuss the USWNT’s clash against England in October.

More teams than ever

This Women’s World Cup championship will be the first to be played with 32 teams. Previous tournaments have featured 24 teams, with the best third-placed teams from the group advancing to the round of 16. In 2023, only the top two teams in each group will advance.

The expanded field means we will see a number of nations making their World Cup debuts, with Morocco, the Philippines, the Republic of Ireland, Vietnam and Zambia all participating for the first time, and more potential debutants still looking to qualify. In addition, the event will mark the first FIFA tournament – men’s or women’s – in which the Philippines has competed.

The 2019 Women’s World Cup was watched by more than 1 billion people worldwide, with the final between the USWNT and the Netherlands averaging 82.2 million viewers, up 56% from the 2015 final. And, on the back of the success of Euro 2022, which saw a record audience of 365m, we can expect the women’s game to continue to push the boundaries in 2023. However, with the tournament taking place in Australia and New Zealand, the time difference (from eight to 11 hours ahead of GMT) could affect viewership numbers, making the event a big test for women’s soccer fans.

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The expansion to 32 teams was a necessary step for the development of the women’s game, and it will undoubtedly lead to further growth for the smaller national teams in the years to come. However, we can expect the team balance to drop slightly from the 2019 World Cup. Despite the USA’s 13-0 win over Thailand in their opening group game, the 2019 tournament has largely seen those gaps close significantly between the nations. This gap may widen again as new teams enter the fray, but it won’t last.

A USWNT three-peat? Is he coming home, or will he be stolen from the favorites?

Despite the poor results in 2022, it’s hard to argue that heading into a World Cup year, the U.S. is still not the favorite. The four-time champions are looking to win a third title in a row and while their dominance on the world stage is formidable, the 2023 edition should be their biggest challengers.

For starters, the Lionesses of England dominated the world competition last year. From their historic win at the Euros, lifting the trophy on home soil in front of a record crowd, to defeating the United States in a thrilling clash at Wembley in October, the team have not lost in 26 games since Sarina Wiegman took over as manager and coach. they have the World Cup back in England.

“You can’t beat that — you can only get even on it. We want to win every game, but we talk about how we can improve the next game … Of course,” Wiegman told reporters last week. , we want to break all the records, but breaking a record doesn’t tell you what to do,” Wiegman added.

In an interview with ESPN in November, England and Barcelona defender Lucy Bronze said women’s soccer has grown beyond “just a team” when asked about the importance of the USWNT’s form, saying the United States is still “rich and experienced.” have to “know how to win.”

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“[The USWNT] there are some changes at the minute and they also had a lot of players injured who didn’t play against England and Spain,” she said. “But the thing with the United States is that you can never write them off. remove They have that mentality that they have developed over the years which maybe not so long like England and Germany.

Bronze also noted that while the Lionesses and the USWNT are heavily talked about, there are other nations that will compete for the trophy in 2023. “Canada [winning] Olympics, Australia with home support as England and Holland in the last two Euros. Therefore, there are many teams in the competition, but [England] will only focus on what we will do, what we can achieve.

“We won the Euros, we have a lot of things we can still improve on. If we can do that, we have a good chance at the World Cup.”

LGBTQ+ rights may be highlighted

The 2022 men’s World Cup highlighted significant issues in Qatar, from human rights abuses and migrant worker deaths to the suppression of LGBTQ+ rights. Controversy escalated when, before England’s opening match against Iran, FIFA banned countries from wearing the OneLove armband — which eight European nations had agreed to wear to protest against all forms of discrimination.

It’s no secret that women’s football is a more open and inclusive environment, with a number of openly gay players and a culture of activism within the sport. The captains at Euro 2022 wore rainbow armbands during the tournament in support of the LGBTQ+ community. Australia and New Zealand promise to be a more welcoming environment, although it remains to be seen what measures FIFA will take for the Women’s World Cup.

ACL Injury: Who Will Lose?

With six months to go until the opening game, we should also talk about those who might miss out. Women’s soccer has seen many anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries, raising questions as to why female players are more likely to suffer this injury than their male counterparts.

Some athletes are set for a potential comeback just in time for the World Cup. Two-time Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas is one of them. The Spain and Barcelona star suffered a devastating blow when he tore his ACL in training before the start of last summer’s Euros. The good news for Spain fans is that Putellas should be back in time for the World Cup, although it will be close due to the recovery time required. However, due to an ongoing dispute with the Spanish FA (RFEF), Putellas is one of 15 Spain internationals who have asked not to be selected unless they have a “professional project”. This could mean that even if she makes a full recovery, we may not see her at the World Cup without that contract.

Another star doubtful for the big show is Lionesses star and Euros Golden Boot winner Beth Mead, who tore her ACL while playing for Arsenal at the end of November. The forward has since undergone surgery and said she still had her sights set on the World Cup when she accepted the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award last week. “I will do my best to go to the World Cup,” she said at the awards. “It’s an injury where you can have good days and bad days, but I will work hard behind the scenes with Arsenal.”

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Next to her is Mead’s Arsenal teammate, fellow Netherlands star Vivianne Miedema, who tore her ACL in December and is awaiting surgery. The injury, sustained during the Gunners’ Champions League defeat at Lyon, naturally rules her out for the World Cup and harms Holland’s chances of repeating their World Cup triumph in 2019, when it was in 2023. second

Other ACL injuries that could affect star power at the World Cup include Australia forward Kyah Simon and Republic of Ireland midfielder Jessica Ziu. While there is some hope they can bounce back in time, there are no guarantees and they will be tough losses for their teams to overcome.

Breakout Stars

Every major tournament presents a new group of stars taking the women’s game by storm. In 2019, USWNT’s Rose Lavelle captivated fans with her talent, Australia’s Mary Fowler proved age is just a number, France’s Grace Geyoro positioned herself for stardom and Canada’s Jessie Fleming looked positively ageless. played a lot; he would help his country to Olympic gold just two years later in Tokyo.

It is worth mentioning that the 2023 edition follows this one. Germany midfielder Lena Oberdorf may have already appeared at the Euros, but her announcement as one of the world’s best on the global stage will be a show no one wants to miss.

Another one to watch will be Maya Le Tissier, who has been recalled from the England squad for their November international break. At the age of 20, the Manchester United defender has proven to be one of the best in the Women’s Super League, and her call-up is testament to that. If selected for the Lionesses, expect her to have a breakout World Cup.

Swedish midfielder Hanna Bennison was named one of UEFA’s 10 most promising young players in 2020, and she backed it up with a perfect performance at the Euros two years later. With another year of experience under her belt, she is ready to step up to a bigger role for her country at the World Cup.

US forward Alyssa Thompson, who will be just 18 when the tournament begins, has the added benefit of playing with other young stars such as Trinity Rodman and Sophia Smith up front at the national team level. However, the star power on her side cannot outshine this young talent. After making her debut against the Lionesses in October, Thompson has gone from strength to strength, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see her take it to another level in July.


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