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. Argentina lifted their first trophy since 1986 after beating France on penalties as Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe went toe-to-toe in what will almost certainly go down as the best World Cup final in history. But while we take some time to reflect on both the good and the bad of 2022, we can also turn our attention to the next big thing: the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

Everything is set to make the tournament, which kicks off in Australia and New Zealand on July 20, 2023, the most exciting yet, with European champions England lining up to threaten the US Women’s National Team as they defend the world. they claim the crown in France in 2019.

The 2023 Women’s World Cup kicks off with hosts New Zealand and Norway at Eden Park in Auckland, before hosts Australia take on the Republic of Ireland in Sydney on the same day. What are the most important things to consider when building? And what’s in store for the tournament?

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February playoffs

We can’t talk about the tournament without acknowledging that there are still three spots open, each of which will be decided through the international playoffs in February.

The knockout tournament is held in New Zealand as a test event for the World Cup and features 10 teams divided into three groups: two groups of three teams and one group of four teams, drawn based on their qualification. Each group plays its own mini-tournament, and the winner of each group gets to the big show in July.

In Group A, Cameroon and Thailand will meet in the semifinals, and the winner will face Portugal in the final. Group B hosts Senegal and Haiti, who will play each other to see who will face Chile in their final. Finally, Group C features two semi-finals – Chinese Taipei vs. Paraguay, Papua New Guinea vs. Panama – and the winners of each will play in the final and earn their ticket to the World Cup.

to be afraid


Herculez Gomez and Sebastian Salazar discuss the USWNT’s matchup with England in October.

More teams than ever before

This Women’s World Cup is the first to be played with 32 teams. In previous tournaments, 24 teams have participated, of which the best third-placed teams in the group have made it to the 16 semifinals. In 2023, only the two best teams from each group will advance.

The expanded field means several countries will be making their World Cup debuts, with Morocco, the Philippines, Ireland, Vietnam and Zambia all participating for the first time, with several potential debutants still looking to qualify. In addition, the event is the first FIFA tournament – men’s or women’s – in which the Philippines has participated.

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

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The expansion to 32 teams was a necessary step for the development of the women’s game and will undoubtedly accelerate the growth of smaller national teams in the years to come. However, we can expect the parity of the teams to decrease slightly from the 2019 World Cup. While there were some flashpoints, such as the USA’s 13-0 win over Thailand in their opening group game, the 2019 tournament narrowed these gaps between the nations significantly. That gap may grow again as new teams enter the fray, but it won’t last.

USWNT three-peat? Will it come home or will it be stolen from favorites?

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

First, England’s Lionesses have dominated the global competition over the past year. From a historic European Championship win, to lifting the trophy at home in front of a record crowd, and beating the USA in a thrilling match at Wembley in October, the team has gone 26 games unbeaten since Sarina Wiegman took over as coach. the intention is to bring the World Cup back to England.

Wiegman told reporters of his unbeaten streak last week: “You can’t beat it — you can only be tied for it. We want to win every game, but we talk about how we can improve the next game… Of course we want to break all the records, but breaking the record doesn’t tell , what you have 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 one team” when asked about the importance of the USWNT format, adding that the United States still has the “wealth and experience” to know how to win.”

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“[The USWNT] are going through a bit of a change at the moment and they also had a lot of injured players who didn’t play against England or Spain,” he said. “But the thing about the USA is you can never rule them out. They have that mentality that they have developed over many years that the likes of England and Germany probably haven’t had for a long time.

Bronze also noted that while there is a lot of talk about the Lionesses and the USWNT, there are other countries that will challenge for the award in 2023. “Canada [winning] the Olympics, Australia with home support, like England and Holland in the last two Euros. So there are a lot of teams running, but [England] we only focus on what we are going to do, what we can achieve.

“We won the European Championships, there are many things we can improve on. If we can do that, we have a good chance for the World Championships.”

LGBTQ+ rights are likely to be highlighted

The 2022 men’s World Cup highlighted Qatar’s significant problems, from human rights abuses and the death of migrant workers to a crackdown on LGBTQ+ rights. Controversy escalated when, before England’s opening match against Iran, FIFA banned countries from wearing the OneLove armband, which eight European countries had agreed to wear to protest against all forms of discrimination.

It’s no secret that women’s soccer is a more open and inclusive environment, with many openly gay players and an active culture in the sport. The 2022 European Championship captains wore a rainbow ribbon during the tournament to support the LGBTQ+ community. Australia and New Zealand promise to be more welcoming environments, although it remains to be seen what measures FIFA plans to implement for the Women’s World Cup.

The ACL Epidemic: Who’s Missing Out?

With just over six months to go until the opening game, we have to talk about those who might also miss out. Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries have occurred in women’s soccer, raising questions as to why female players are more likely to suffer this injury than their male counterparts.

Some athletes are looking forward to a potential return just in time for the World Championships. Two-time Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas is one of them. The Spain and Barcelona star midfielder suffered a devastating blow when he tore his ACL in training just before the start of last summer’s European Championships. The good news for Spain fans is that Putellas should be fit again 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 until they commit to a “professional project”. This could mean that even if he makes a full recovery, we may not see him at the World Cup without a contract.

Another star who is a doubt for the big show is Lionesses star and Euro Golden Boot winner Beth Mead, who tore her ACL in late November while playing for Arsenal. The striker has since undergone surgery and said he still had his sights set on the World Cup when he accepted the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award last week. “I will do everything to get to the World Cup,” he said at the award ceremony. “It’s an injury where you can have good days and bad days, but I’m going to work hard behind the scenes with Arsenal.”

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With him on the sidelines is Mead’s Arsenal teammate, partner and star Dutch striker Vivianne Miedema, who tore her ACL in December and is awaiting her own surgery. An injury picked up during the Gunners’ Champions League defeat in Lyon will naturally make him an outside goal at the World Cup and hurt the Netherlands’ chances of repeating their 2019 World Cup success when they finished second in 2023.

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

Breakout stars

Every major tournament introduces new stars who are taking the women’s game by storm. In 2019, the USWNT’s Rose Lavelle captivated the audience with her skills, Australia’s Mary Fowler proved that age was just a number, France’s Grace Geyoro rose to stardom and Canada’s Jessie Fleming played comfortably beyond her age; he would help take his country to Olympic gold just two years later in Tokyo.

It’s fair to say the 2023 edition is set to follow suit. Germany midfielder Lena Oberdorf may have already been eliminated at the European Championships, 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 is Maya Le Tissier, who was called up to 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 was testament to that. If he is selected for the Lionesses, expect him to make it to the World Cup.

Swedish midfielder Hanna Bennison was selected as one of UEFA’s 10 most promising young players in 2020 and backed it up two years later with a solid performance at the European Championships. With a year of experience, he seems ready to step into a bigger role in his country’s World Cup.

USA forward Alyssa Thompson, who will be just 18 when the tournament starts, will have the added benefit of playing alongside other young stars such as Trinity Rodman and Sophia Smith at the national team level. However, the star power next to him cannot overcome this young talent. After making his debut against the Lionesses in October, Thompson has gone from strength to strength and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him jump to another level in July.


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