Women’s World Cup 2023 preview from a British perspective

https://www.theguardian.com/football/2022/oct/22/womens-world-cup-2023-the-complete-group-by-group-preview

Women’s World Cup 2023: the complete group-by-group preview

England will be delighted with a kind draw in Group D while the USA replay the 2019 final with the Netherlands

USA celebrate beating the Netherlands in the 2019 women's world cup final
The USA will hope to be celebrating once again when they face the Netherlands in Group E. Photograph: Ian Langsdon/EPA

Suzanne Wrack, @SuzyWrack, Sat 22 Oct 2022 09.14 EDT

    Group A – New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Switzerland

    Co-hosts New Zealand will be delighted. With the Olympic champions (Canada), the 2019 World Cup runners up (the Netherlands) and the 2011 World Cup winners (Japan) in Pot 2 there was a chance their Pot 1 placement, as a home nation, could mean little. Instead, out came Norway, thumped 8-0 by England in the group stage of the Euros, Switzerland, a team ranked one place ahead of them and debutants the Philippines. Switzerland and Norway will be favourites to progress, but New Zealand have a real chance to move on to the last 16.

    Group B – Australia, Republic of Ireland, Nigeria, Canada

    Canada and the Republic of Ireland have a nasty trek to and from Perth sandwiched between games on the east coast. If New Zealand have been lucky in the draw, co-host Australia have not. The Matildas have struggled of late and Canada could easily beat them to top spot, setting up a tricky tie with the winners of Group D, which will most likely be England. Upsetting an Australia and Canada one-two, whichever way round it might be, will be tough, but Nigeria and Ireland will not be walkovers.

    Canada are aiming to top Group B after becoming 2019 Olympic Champions in Tokyo.
    Canada are aiming to top Group B after becoming 2019 Olympic Champions in Tokyo. Photograph: DPPI/Photo Kishimoto/LiveMedia/Shutterstock

    Group C – Spain, Costa Rica, Zambia, Japan

    Spain and Japan will be eyeing a very smooth run to the quarter-finals. Spain’s pre-World Cup situation is complicated by the dispute of many of its senior players with the federation and coach, Jorge Vilda, but their understudies showed they can beat the best, with an unlikely victory over the injury-hit USA in a recent friendly. Costa Rica and Zambia, making a second and first appearance respectively, are unlikely to trouble Spain regardless of who is on the pitch, or Japan. With the winner and runners-up of Group A guaranteed to play lower-ranked sides a deep run is a tantalising prospect.

    Group D – England, playoff B winner, Denmark, China

    The draw has been kind to England with Denmark, China and the winner of playoff B (Chile, Senegal or Haiti) all unlikely to troublethem. They have also avoided the dreaded cross-country trip to Perth the other two confirmed sides have to make for their opener. The challenge comes in the last 16 as Australia or Canada potentially lie in wait. The battle for second place is where the juice is, with China, ranked 15th in the world, up against Denmark (18th in the world) and built around Pernille Harder.

    Denmark’s Pernille Harder.
    England need to be wary of Denmark and Pernille Harder. Photograph: Simon Dael/Shutterstock

    Group E – United States, Vietnam, Netherlands, playoff A winner

    A rematch of the 2019 final between USA and the Netherlands is a tasty prospect. They will be hoping to top the group to avoid a last-16 tie with likely Group E winners, Sweden, and the Netherlands will be eager to finally get the better of the USA on a big stage. One of Portugal, Cameroon or Thailand will complete the group, and the playoff winner and Vietnam are unlikely to upset the applecart.

    Group F – France, Jamaica, Brazil, playoff C winner

    France could do very well in 2023 if they get their act together. The off-field drama, with manager, Corinne Diacre, falling out with Eugénie Le Sommer and Amandine Henry, did surprisingly little to disrupt a strong Euros performance. Instead, it was an injury to Marie-Antoinette Katoto that caused them to stutter. Katoto is in a race against time to come back from her ACL injury for next summer but it is possible. Brazil will compete in the World Cup without influential midfielder Formiga for only the second time in the competition’s history. They have lost three, drawn three and won twice against European opposition this year, including a 2-1 defeat to France. Jamaica make their second appearance and one of Chinese Taipei, Paraguay, Papua New Guinea and Panama complete the group.

    Group G – Sweden, South Africa, Italy, Argentina

    Sweden will be favourites to clinch the group with their pedigree. Italy had a hugely disappointing summer, where they finished bottom of Group D at the Euros behind France, Belgium and Iceland with one point and scoring only twice. Should the Italians finish second then the winner of Group E, likely to be the USA or the Netherlands, awaits. South Africa and Argentina will be targeting improvement on the 2019 edition after the former lost all their games and the latter drew twice and lost once at the group stage.

    Group H – Germany, Morocco, Colombia, South Korea

    Germany are nailed on to top Group H. The Euros runners-up impressed in England and are ranked third in the world behind the USA and Sweden. Secure victory and they play the runner-up of Group F, likely to be France or Brazil, and then a possible Euros final rematch with England is on the cards. Morocco are making their World Cup debut, while Colombia failed to qualify in 2019 having reached the last 16 in 2015. South Korea offer Germany’s biggest challenge, though this is their fourth World Cup and they have qualified from the group stage once, in 2015.

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