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

The 2022 Men’s World Cup in Qatar has come to a spectacular end. Argentina lifted their first trophy since 1986 after defeating France on penalties, with Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe going toe-to-toe in what would be the best World Cup final in history. But while we’ve taken a moment to reflect on the good and the bad of 2022, we can turn our attention to the next big thing: the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

European champions England are set to threaten the United States Women’s team in their world defense in what will be the most exciting of the tournament, which kicks off in Australia and New Zealand on July 20, 2023. They claimed the crown in 2019 in France.

The 2023 Women’s World Cup kicks off with Norway and New Zealand at Eden Park in Auckland, followed by Australia and the Republic of Ireland in Sydney on the same day. What to pay attention to in construction? 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 three open spots in February, each of which will be determined by an international playoff.

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

In Group A, Cameroon will face Thailand in the semi-finals, with the winner facing Portugal in the final. Senegal and Haiti will meet in Group B to decide who will face Chile in the final. Finally, Group C will feature two semi-finals — Chinese Taipei vs. Paraguay, Papua New Guinea vs. Panama — with the winners of each playing in the final to qualify for the World Cup.

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

More teams than ever before

The Women’s World Cup will be played for the first time with 32 teams. In previous tournaments, 24 teams participated, and the best third-placed teams from the group advanced to the 1/8 finals. In 2023, only the top two teams in each group will advance.

The expanded field means we will see several nations make their World Cup debuts, with Morocco, the Philippines, the Republic of Ireland, Vietnam and Zambia making their first appearances, and there are still plenty of potential debutants looking to qualify. In addition, the event will mark the first FIFA tournament – men’s or women’s – in which the Philippines will participate.

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, a 56% increase from the 2015 final. Thanks to the success of Euro 2022, which saw a record audience of 365 million viewers, we can expect the women’s game to continue to push the boundaries further in 2023. However, with the tournament taking place in Australia and New Zealand, the time difference (between eight and 11 hours GMT) could affect viewership, making the event a major test for women’s football fandom.

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The expansion to 32 teams was a necessary step for the development of the women’s game and it will no doubt encourage further growth of junior national teams in the coming years. However, we can expect the parity of the teams to decrease slightly from the 2019 World Cup. Despite some blips, such as the USA’s 13-0 win over Thailand in the group’s opener, the 2019 tournament saw those gaps close significantly between the nations. That gap may widen again when new teams enter the competition, but it won’t last long.

The USWNT three-peat? Will he be coming home or will he be stolen away from the favourites?

Despite the lackluster results in 2022, it’s hard to say that the U.S. isn’t still the favorite entering World Cup year. 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 bring down their biggest rivals.

First, the English Lions dominated the world competition last year. From their historic victory at the Euros, lifting the trophy on home soil in front of a record crowd, to beating the USA in a thrilling clash at Wembley in October, the team have gone 26 games unbeaten since Sarina Wigman took over. He has every intention of returning the World Cup to England.

Speaking to reporters last week about the loss, Wiegman said: “You can’t get over it – you can be the same. 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 mean what needs to be done,” Wiegman added.

Asked about the significance of the USWNT uniform, England and Barcelona defender Lucy Bronze told ESPN in November that women’s soccer has grown beyond “one team,” adding that the U.S. still has “wealth and experience.” I know how to win.”

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“[The USWNT] There’s a bit of change at the minute and they also have a lot of injured players who didn’t play against England or Spain,” he said. “But the thing with the USA is you can never write them off. They have a mentality that has been built up over the years, which the likes of England and Germany haven’t had for a long time.

Bronze also pointed out that while the Lions and the USWNT are being talked about a lot, there are other nations that could compete for the trophy in 2023. “Canada [winning] Olympics, Australia with home support like England and Netherlands in the last two Euros. So there are a lot of teams in the running, though [England] We are only focused on what we can do and what we can achieve.

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

LGBTQ+ rights are highlighted

The 2022 Men’s World Cup has highlighted serious issues in Qatar, from human rights abuses and the death of migrant workers to the suppression of LGBTQ+ rights. Controversy erupted after FIFA banned countries from wearing OneLove armbands ahead of England’s first match against Iran – which eight European nations agreed to wear to protest against all forms of discrimination.

It’s no secret that women’s soccer is an open and inclusive environment, with several openly gay players and a culture of activism within the sport. At Euro 2022, the captains will wear rainbow armbands during the tournament in support of the LGBTQ+ community. Australia and New Zealand are promising favorable conditions, but it remains to be seen how FIFA will prepare for the Women’s World Cup.

ACL Epidemic: Who’s Missing?

More than six months after the inaugural game, we still have to talk about who might have missed out. Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries are common in women’s soccer, raising questions as to why female players are more prone to this injury than men.

Some athletes are ready to return in time for the World Cup. One of them is two-time Golden Ball winner Alexia Putellas. The Spain and Barcelona star midfielder was dealt a 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 fit again for the World Cup, but given his recovery time, it would be close. However, due to an ongoing dispute with the Spanish FA (RFEF), Putellas is one of 15 Spanish internationals asked not to be selected until he commits to a “professional project”. This means that even if he makes a full recovery, we may not see him at the World Cup without this deal.

Another star doubt for the big show is Lionesses star and Euros Golden Boot winner Beth Meade, who tore her ACL at the end of November while playing for Arsenal. The forward has since had surgery and said he was still aiming for the World Cup after winning the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award last week. “I will do my best to reach the World Cup,” he said during the award ceremony. “It’s an injury that will have good days and bad days, but I will work hard behind the scenes with Arsenal.”

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He was joined by Meade’s Arsenal team-mate and star Dutch striker Vivianne Miedema, who is awaiting surgery after rupturing her ACL in December. The injury suffered in the Gunners’ Champions League loss at Lyon would naturally make him an outside shot for the World Cup and hurt the Netherlands’ chances of repeating their 2019 World Cup success in 2023 as runners-up.

ACL injuries that could affect star power at the World Cup include Australia forward Kyah Simon and Republic of Ireland midfielder Jessica Ziu. The hope is that they will be back in time, but there are no guarantees and it would be difficult for their teams to lose.

Bright stars

Every major tournament brings out new stars who will take the women’s game by storm. In 2019, the USWNT’s Rose Lavelle dazzled audiences with her skills, Australia’s Mary Fowler proved age is just a number, France’s Grace Gueiro put herself on the pole for stardom and Canada’s Jessie Fleming played well above her age; he would help lead his country to Olympic gold two years later in Tokyo.

It’s safe to say that the 2023 edition will be the same. Germany midfielder Lena Oberdorf may have already been on a roll at the Euros, but her announcement on the world stage as one of the world’s best will be a show no one wants to miss.

Another one to watch is Maia Le Tissier, who has been called up to the England squad for the November international break. At the age of 20, the Manchester United defender has proven to be one of the best players in the Women’s Super League and her call-up is testament to that. If Lion is selected for the girls, expect her to compete in the World Cup.

Sweden midfielder Hannah Bennison has been named in UEFA’s 10 most promising young players for 2020 and she backed it up two years later with a full performance at the Euros. With another year of experience under his belt, he looks set to play a big role for his country at the World Cup.

American forward Alyssa Thompson, who will turn 18 when the tournament begins, has 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 Lions in October, Thompson is going from strength to strength and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him take another level leap in July.


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