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

The 2022 Men’s World Cup in Qatar came to an unimaginably dramatic end. Argentina lifted their first trophy since 1986 after Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe beat France on penalties in what will surely go down as the best World Cup final in history. But while we take some time to reflect on the events of 2022, both good and bad, we can turn our attention to the next big thing: the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

Everything is lining up for the tournament, which kicks off in Australia and New Zealand on July 20, 2023, and to be the most exciting yet, European champions England line up to pose a threat to the US Women’s National Team. They won the crown in France in 2019.

The 2023 Women’s World Cup kicks off with co-hosts New Zealand taking on Norway at Auckland’s Eden Park, before co-hosts Australia take on the Republic of Ireland in Sydney on the same day. What are the main points to pay attention to in the construction? And what does the tournament have in store?

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February finals

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

The tournament will be held in New Zealand as a test match for the World Cup and 10 teams will be divided into three groups: two groups of three and one group of four, drawn based on their ranking from the qualifiers. Each team will play its own mini-tournament, with the winner of each team qualifying for the big showdown in July.

Group A will feature a semi-final between Cameroon and Thailand, with the winner taking on Portugal in the final. Group B hosts Senegal and Haiti, with Senegal and Haiti facing each other to decide who will face Chile in their final. Finally, there will be two semifinals in Group C — Chinese Taipei vs. Paraguay, Papua New Guinea vs. Panama — with each winner playing in the final to earn a ticket to the World Cup.



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

More teams than ever

The Women’s World Cup is the first tournament to be held with 32 teams. 24 teams have participated in the previous tournaments, and the best third-placed teams from that group advance to the Round of 16. In 2023, only the top two teams in each category will advance.

The expanded field means several nations will see their World Cup debuts, with Morocco, the Philippines, the Republic of Ireland, Vietnam and Zambia all participating for the first time, while many other newcomers are still looking to qualify. Furthermore, the event will mark the first FIFA tournament — men’s or women’s — that the Philippines has competed in.

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

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The expansion to 32 teams was an essential step in the development of the women’s game, and will no doubt help further growth for smaller national teams in the years to come. However, we can expect the parity of the teams to drop slightly from the 2019 World Cup. While there were some explosive scores, such as the United States’ 13-0 win over Thailand in their opening group game, the 2019 tournament broadly closed those gaps between the nations significantly. This gap may widen again as new teams enter the fray, but it will remain.

A USWNT three-peat? Will it come home, or will it steal from the favorites?

Despite a poor result in 2022, heading into a World Cup year, it’s hard to argue that the United States aren’t still favorites. The four-time champions are looking to win a third title in a row and their dominance on the world stage is formidable, and the 2023 edition must overwhelm their biggest challengers.

For starters, England’s Lions have dominated the global competition over the past year. From their historic win at the Euros, lifting the trophy at home in front of a record crowd, to defeating the United States in a thrilling clash at Wembley in October, the team are unbeaten in 26 games since Sarina Wigman took over as manager. There is every intention of bringing the World Cup back to England.

Speaking about their unbeaten run, Wiegman told reporters last week: “You can’t beat it — you can only equal 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 a record doesn’t tell you what to do,” Wiegman added.

In an interview with ESPN in November, England and Barcelona defender Lucy Brons said women’s soccer had moved beyond “one team” when asked about the importance of the USWNT format, adding that the United States still had “wealth and experience.” Knows how to win.”

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“[The USWNT] “There’s a bit of a change at the moment and they’ve got a lot of players injured who didn’t play against England or Spain,” she said. “They’ve developed that mentality over the years that the likes of England and Germany haven’t had for a long time.

While talking heavily about the Lions and USWNT, Bronze noted that there are other nations challenging for the trophy in 2023. “Canada [winning] Olympics, Australia with home support like England and Netherlands in the last two Euros. So, there are plenty of teams in the running, though [England] We will only focus on what we are going to do, what we can achieve.

“We won the Euros and there are many things we can improve on. If we can do that we have a good chance at the World Cup.”

LGBTQ+ rights are likely to be highlighted

The 2022 Men’s World Cup highlighted significant issues in Qatar, from human rights abuses and the deaths of migrant workers to the crackdown on LGBTQ+ rights. Ahead of England’s opener against Iran, the controversy intensified when FIFA banned countries from wearing the OneLove armband — which eight European countries 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 a number of openly gay players and a culture of activism within the game. Euro 2022 captains wore rainbow armbands during the tournament in support of the LGBTQ+ community. Australia and New Zealand promise to be more welcoming environments, but it remains to be seen what action FIFA will take for the Women’s World Cup.

The ACL Epidemic: Who’s Missing Out?

With more than six months to go from the opening game, we need to talk about who we might miss. Women’s soccer has seen a high incidence of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries, raising questions as to why athletes are more likely to suffer this injury than their male counterparts.

Some athletes are set to return in time for the World Cup. Two-time Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas is one of them. The Spain and Barcelona star midfielder suffered a devastating blow when she tore her ACL in training just before the start of the Euros last summer. The good news for Spanish fans is that Putelas should be fit again in time for the World Cup, albeit close in terms of recovery time. However, due to an ongoing dispute with the Spanish FA (RFEF), Putelas is one of 15 Spanish internationals asked not to be selected pending a commitment to a “professional project”. This means that even if she makes a full recovery, we may not see her at the World Cup without that agreement.

Another star doubtful for the big show is Lions star and Euro Golden Boot winner Beth Meade, who tore her ACL in late November while playing for Arsenal. The forward has since undergone surgery and said she was still looking forward to the World Cup as 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 ceremony. “It’s an injury where you can have good days and bad days, but I’m working hard behind the scenes with Arsenal.”

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She will be joined by Meade’s Arsenal teammate, partner and star Netherlands striker Vivian Meedema, who tore her ACL in December and is awaiting surgery of her own. The injury in the Gunners’ Champions League defeat at Lyon naturally makes her an outside shot for the World Cup and hurts the Netherlands’ chances of replicating their 2019 World Cup triumph when they finish as runners-up in 2023.

Other ACL injuries that could affect star power at the World Cup include Australian striker 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 their teams will have tough losses to overcome.

Falling stars

Every major tournament presents a new set of stars taking the women’s game by storm. In 2019, the USWNT’s Rose Lavelle wowed viewers with her talent, Australia’s Mary Fowler proved age is just a number, France’s Grace Geyoro took pole position for the star and Canada’s Jessie Fleming played with poise well beyond her age; She would help lead her country to Olympic gold two years later in Tokyo.

It’s fair to say that the 2023 edition is set to follow suit. Germany midfielder Lena Oberdorf has already broken through at the Euros, but her announcement as one of the world’s best players on the global stage will be a spectacle no one wants to miss.

Another one to watch is Maya Lee Tissier, who has been called up to the England squad for the November international break. At just 20 years old, the Manchester United defender has proven herself to be one of the best players in the Women’s Super League, and her call-up is testament to that. If selected for the Lions, expect her to win a World Cup.

Sweden midfielder Hanna Bennison was named one of UEFA’s 10 best young players in 2020, and she backed it up two years later with a solid performance at the Euros. With another year of experience, she looks poised to play a big role for her country at the World Cup.

US forward Alyssa Thompson, who will be just 18 when the tournament begins, has the added advantage of playing alongside other young stars such as Trinity Rodman and Sophia Smith, who are leading the national team. However, the star power beside her cannot overpower this young talent. After making her debut against the Lions in October, Thompson has gone from strength to strength, and it’s no surprise that she’ll jump to another level in July.


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