Tonight sees the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup get underway in Paris, France as 24 teams gear up to do battle for football’s ultimate prize over the next month as France meet South Korea in tonight’s opening match.
Here, we run you through everything that you need to know about the tournament from teams to tournament format to who to watch out for.
Who are defending champions?Embed from Getty Images
USA are the defending champions after beating 2011 winners, Japan 5-2 in the 2015 edition held in Canada.
An early hat-trick from Carli Lloyd plus a Lauren Holiday goal within opening 16 minutes put America in firm control.
Yuki Ogimi then reduced the deflict before Julie Johnston’s 52nd minute own goal provided Japan with hope of a dramatic comeback, but Tobin Heath struck minutes later to secure USA their third World Cup title.
How does the tournament work?
The tournament kicks off with a round-robin group stage in which all 24 teams are split into the following six groups;
|Group A||Group B||Group C|
|South Korea||China PR||Italy|
|Group D||Group E||Group F|
Four knockout rounds will then follow as the 16 teams who escaped their groups will be split into two sections of eight for the Round of 16.
Whoever wins that stage will proceed to the Quarter-Finals before the two best teams from both sections then meet each other in the Semi-Finals for a place in the Final, which takes place on Sunday 7th July.
Games throughout the tournament will be played in the following venues; Parc Olympique Lyonnais (Lyon), Parc des Princes (Paris), Roazhon Park (Rennes), Stade de Nice (Nice), Stade de la Mosson (Montpellier), Stade Oceane (Le Havre), Stade du Hainaut (Valenciennes), Stade Auguste-Delaune (Reims), Stade des Alpes (Grenoble)
|Group Stage||7-20th June|
|Round of 16||22-25th June|
|Quarter Finals||27-29th June|
|Semi Finals||2nd-3rd July|
|Third Place Play-Off||6th July|
Who are the tournament favourites?
As reigning champions, USA are the frontrunners but England and Germany lead those hoping to knock them off their perch.
France meanwhile will be hoping that home advantage will help them escape the group stage for the third consecutive edition, whilst Japan, Brazil and the Netherlands will be amongst those ready to spring a surprise or two.
Now here are the latest odds according to Oddschecker.com
Three Must Watch Players
England’s Beth Mead might hail from small North East seaside town, Whitby but this star is definitely destined for the world stage, as already demonstrated in the SheBelieves Cup earlier this year and in particular against Brazil.
As someone capable of playing either as a striker or winger, Mead has the ability to create all sort of trouble with her pace and as such comes into the tournament with a record breaking 12 assists in the Women’s Super League (WSL) this season for Arsenal.
Opposition therefore will have a tough task on their hands to stop this agile player who will surely grasp this World Cup with both hands.
Having won 2017 UEFA Women’s Euros, Netherlands are amongst several dark horses but striker, Vivianne Miedema is going to be a key player in their quest for a second consecutive major trophy.
With 31 goals across all competitions for WSL champions – Arsenal alone this season, Miedema has shown herself to be one of the best clinical strikers in the English game as she also provided 10 assists.
Miedema also comes into this tournament as PFA’s Women’s Player of the Year which will only boost her confidence in performing on the world stage, therefore making her one of the more exciting players to watch out for this summer.
As the Women’s World Cup’s all-time top goalscorer with 15 goals in four tournaments, Brazil’s Marta will definitely be a player to watch out for.
2019 however has been a struggle so far for the experienced Brazilian with only two goals across both club and country but given her goal-scoring habit at World Cups, expect her talent to shine through in an open Group C containing Australia, Italy and Jamaica.
We therefore cannot rule someone like Marta out because with 110 goals in 133 international appearances for Brazil, she will always be a threat when given the right opportunities.
- This is the eighth edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup and only once has the hosts won their home tournament (USA in 1999).
- Germany are the only team to have successfully defended their title, having won the competition in 2003 against Sweden in extra time before beating Brazil in the 2007 Final.
- USA have never failed to reach the last four at a Women’s World Cup and have won all three Third-Placed Play-Offs that they have featured in.
- One goal for Marta (Brazil) or Christine Sinclair (Canada) will see them become the first female player to score at five consecutive World Cups.
- Brazil’s Formiga is going to her seventh World Cup and if starts a match, she will become the outright record holder for most appearances at multiple World Cup Finals in either the men’s or women’s competitions.