The 2019 Women’s World Cup Stage is Set
Today the sports world turns its attention to France, as the Women’s World Cup kicks off with the host nation taking on Korea. The tournament is comprised of twenty four teams split into six four-team groups. Group play begins today and continues to June 20. The top two teams from each group, and the four best 3rd place finishers, advance to the single elimination knockout stages. The final takes place on July 7 in Lyon, where one team will be crowned champions of the world. Over 750 million people watched the final in 2015; the continued growth of women’s soccer suggests an even larger audience will tune in this year. Here is all you need to know before watching.
2019 Women’s World Cup Favorites and Odds
United States (7-4 odds)
The powerhouse United States Women’s National Team is ranked #1 in the world, and they are defending champions after beating Japan in the 2015 final. The core of that 2015 team returns, along with many rising stars.
France (7-2 odds)
Les Bleus are eager to impress on home soil. The French men won the World Cup last year, and no country has simultaneously held both the Men’s and Women’s World Cup. If the two advance, the US and France would meet in the Round of 16.
Germany (11-2 odds)
After winning gold in the 2016 Rio Olympics, the Germans are among the hottest teams entering France. The two time World Cup winners are one behind the US for the most all-time.
England (7-1 odds)
An explosive squad capable of scoring goals in bunches, the English are in peak form after winning the SheBelieves Cup in March. Few teams have as rabid a fanbase as the Lionesses.
Players to Watch during 2019 Women’s World Cup
Alex Morgan, United States
The face of the USWNT, Morgan was the 2018 US Soccer Player of the Year. She scored 18 goals in 19 games, and claimed the Golden Boot during World Cup Qualification. For the USWNT to win a fourth World Cup, Morgan will need to continue this torrid pace.
The Brazilian is widely regarded as the greatest women’s soccer player of all time. Named World Player of the Year a record six times, Marta’s 15 goals in the World Cup hold the record for most amongst women, sitting only two behind the men’s record. She has yet to hoist a World Cup, and at age 33, this is likely her final go round.
Christine Sinclair, Canada
Sinclair is on the verge of becoming the most prolific international goal scorer in soccer history. Her 181 international goals are three shy of Abby Wambach’s record. A stellar performance in France will see her break that record and become the all-time leading scorer on the international stage for men and women.
Sam Kerr, Australia
Only 25 years old, Kerr is already making her third Women’s World Cup appearance. Her frenetic pace and dynamic abilities have already made her the National Women’s Soccer League all time leading goalscorer. Her signature backflip goal celebration is sure to pop up in France.
Best Group Stage Matches to Watch during 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup
USA vs. Sweden, June 20, 3pm EST
For the fifth straight World Cup, the Americans and Swedes will face off in the group stage. The teams have some recent bad blood, as Sweden eliminated the US from the Olympics in 2016. The top two teams in Group F are expected to meet with first place in the group on the line in this 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
England vs. Scotland, June 9, 12pm EST
Scotland is making their first World Cup appearance, and they will do so going up against their neighbors to the south. The storylines and drama surrounding the match will be among the highest of the tournament; national pride and animosity will be at a fever pitch on the British Isle.
England vs. Japan, June 19, 3pm EST
A rematch of the 2015 semifinal, where England lost in heartbreaking fashion on a 92nd minute own goal. Both among the tournament favorites, they will likely play for top spot in Group D.
Australia vs. Brazil, June 13, 12pm EST
In 2015, Australia ousted Brazil on its way to winning its first ever knockout stage game. Brazil returned the favor a year later, beating the Matildas in PK’s at the Olympics. Australia has won the previous four matchups, but history suggests this will be a tight and intense meeting between two teams in the top 10 of the FIFA rankings.
Storylines to Follow during 2019 Women’s World Cup
Marta’s Swan Song
Today’s soccer fans are blessed with the opportunity to watch both the greatest men’s and women’s players of all time— Messi and Marta. Both are game breaking talents who demand every bit of a defense’s attention. There’s nothing either can’t do on the pitch, yet they both have one blemish on their resume— failing to win a World Cup. Despite 13 years of brilliance, Marta has been unable to capture a trophy for Brazil.The Canarinhas are limping into France on a nine game losing streak, so it seems unlikely Marta will fill that blank space on her long list of accolades. She will be 37 at the next World Cup. This is her final chance, and she will presumably need a miracle to win.
USA vs. The Field
The USWNT has occupied the top level of women’s soccer for a generation. The team has never dropped below second in the world rankings. Their three World Cups are tops all time. Yet, many regard this iteration of the team to be the deepest, most talented, and most complete team taken to a World Cup. They are heavy favorites to win for a fourth time, but the competition is the best it has ever been. Teams like France, Germany, and England are stronger than ever. Historical giants Japan, Canada, and Australia could find their footing and make a run. Earlier this year, France defeated the US, and both England and Japan played them to a draw. The US is undeniably the team to beat, but they will have to be at their best to repeat.
The last team in the field is Jamaica, coming into the tournament ranked 53rd in the world. They have already made history thus far, becoming the first Caribbean nation to appear in a Women’s World Cup. The feat is even more remarkable considering their recent history. Nine years ago, the Jamaican soccer federation cut off funding to the team, and the team disbanded. In 2014, funding from Bob Marley’s daughter Cedella started a new era. Their coach is a math teacher who takes no salary. The Reggae Girlz, led by sixteen year old star Jodie Brown, may well become the darlings of the summer.
Upper Hand provides front desk and back office software for sport and fitness businesses. Click here to learn more.