All About The Women’s World Cup 2023 Which Kicks Off This Thursday 20

Image of Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand.

Image of Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand. Credit: Twitter@NZ_Football

Thursday, July 20, sees the start of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, jointly hosted by New Zealand and Australia.

A total of 32 women’s national teams from six federations have fought their way to the final stages of this ninth tournament. It will culminate with two of them battling to lift the iconic trophy at the 82,500-capacity Sydney Olympic Stadium in Australia, on Sunday, August 20.

This is the first time that there has been more than one host nation at the FIFA Women’s World Cup. It is also unique in that for the first time in a senior World Cup, the two are from different federations. New Zealand is in the Oceanian Confederation (OFC), while Australia is in the Asian Confederation ( ASEAN).

In a change of format, this tournament will replicate the men’s World Cup by featuring 32 teams compared to the previous 24. Matches will be played in 10 venues located in nine host cities. As always, there will be group matches followed by the final set of knockout games up to the final.

The United States arrive as probable favourites

A strong United States squad (USWNT) comes into the tournament as probable favourites, having won the trophy four times, including on the last two occasions in 2015 and 2019. Their legendary captain Megan Rapinoe will be looking to lift her third World Cup in what will be her last tournament.

They will be defending their title as world champions but will inevitably face a stiff challenge from England’s Euro-winning Lionesses.

New Zealand and Norway will kick proceedings off at Eden Park in Auckland on Thursday 20. Their co-hosts Australia will play the Republic of Ireland at Stadium Australia in Sydney Olympic Park on the same day.

Australia’s captain Sam Kerr holds the remarkable record of having won the Golden Boot on three different continents in three different leagues. The Chelsea striker will be hoping to lead the Matilda’s to victory on home soil and add to her other record as the country’s top scorer with 62 international goals.

Sarina Wiegman will be looking to lead her England team to victory but will be aware of the dangers posed by the German side that her players defeated in the Euro 2022 final.

Spain and France have also developed strong women’s teams over the last decade. As with the men’s game, the Spanish squad is crammed full of technically gifted players with the French have an abundance of outrageously talented stars.

Joining Megan Rapinoe in a final bow will be Canada’s Christine Sinclair. The 40-year-old legend of the women’s game has more than 300 caps for her country and will be playing in her sixth World Cup. With 190, she is the all-time top scorer of international goals for men or women.

Players to watch out for

England have unfortunately seen their squad decimated by injuries ahead of the tournament. Three key players will be missing, including record caps holder captain Leah Williamson, the Arsenal star. Beth Mead, prolific up front, is also out, along with midfielder Fran Kirby.

Millie Bright is included in the squad and steps into the role of captain, but the Chelsea centre-back hasn’t played competitive football since March after returning from knee surgery.

Other players hoping to make a name for themselves at these finals include Barcelona’s Alexia Putellas. The Spanish attacking midfielder and two-time Ballon d’Or winner missed out on last summer’s Euros due to an ACL injury. Whether she had regained full fitness in time for this World Cup remains to be seen.

German captain Alexandra Popp sadly missed the Euro final against England through injury. As her country’s top scorer with 62 goals, she is another player who will be hoping to lift the trophy in August.

The 32-year-old Wolfsburg star is one of the biggest names in German sport having won every prize at club level, including two Champions Leagues.

Another Wolfsburg player, 21-year-old defensive midfielder Lena Oberdorf is also a name to watch out for. She is famed for her defence-splitting passes from the middle of the pitch.

France are yet to excel in the women’s game

Lyon’s Wendie Renard will captain France when they start their campaign against Jamaica on July 23 in Sydney. The French are yet to win the Women’s World Cup, having lost in their only final back in 2011 to the United States.

Despite having squads packed full of extreme talent, France has underachieved in the women’s game, only reaching one European Championship semifinal, losing last year to Germany.

Jill Roord will carry the hopes of the Netherlands. The 26-year-old former Arsenal midfield star recently completed a move from Wolfsburg to play in the Women’s Super League for Manchester City.

She was a part of the Dutch team that won Euro 2017 on home soil and played in the 2019 World Cup final in France which Holland lost to the United States. With 86 caps, Roord is definitely a name to watch out for at these finals.

Sophia Smith could be a surprise package

While the main focus with the reigning champions will be on Rapinoe and Alex Morgan, Sophia Smith could be the surprise package.

Playing in her first World Cup, the clinical 22-year-old striker recently entered the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) history books by becoming the youngest player to score 30 goals.

Sweden come into the tournament ranked No 3 in the world. Stina Blackstenius has established herself as one of the best centre forwards in the world at only 23 years of age. She joined Arsenal in 2022 from BK Hacken and has excelled.

It would be hard to mention the World Cup without including the name Brazil. With 23-year-old Kerolin leading their forward line, the South Americans have another huge talent on their hands.

She currently plays for the North Carolina Courage in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) where she is the league’s second-top scorer with eight goals. Kerolin has already attracted interest from clubs in the Women’s Super League.

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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at