Team USA is currently favored to win the FIFA Women’s World Cup, which kicks off on July 20 with games in Sydney, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand, but other teams will be bringing some fierce competition as well. Various cities across the two countries will also host games, giving fans from all around Australia and New Zealand—or those springing for a flight to the far-flung countries—a chance to see them live.
The tournament has gradually expanded over the years, starting with just 12 teams in 1991 and growing to 24 teams by 2019. This year, 32 nations will be competing, making it the largest tournament in Women’s World Cup history.
The competition will take place over the course of 30 days, with the final scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 20. The tournament will feature rising stars and seasoned veterans from all over the globe. From midfielders to forwards, below are some of the top talent that team USA will be expected to face up against.
A consistent offensive player, the 31-year-old Brazilian forward finds ways to score from all over the soccer field. She plays for the Kansas City Current, and leads the team in goals scored during the regular season. In 2021, she was named as MVP of the Challenge Cup, the annual tournament hosted by the U.S. National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).
Her name, an acronym for Débora Cristiane de Oliveira, is known to soccer fans across Brazil, which she represented in three Olympic teams and at the 2019 Women’s World Cup. Debinha is considered one of the best female soccer players in Latin America. In 2022, she was in the 96% percentile of non-penalty goals scored in the NWSL.
Sam Kerr, Australia
The 29-year-old striker has made headlines for her ability to create unexpected goal opportunities and follow through. Since 2020, she has played for the English Chelsea club, where she achieved three hat-tricks. Previously a top scorer in both Australian and American leagues, Kerr has brought that dominance to her time in Chelsea.
Kerr has expressed excitement that her home country, Australia, will be hosting the Women’s World Cup along with New Zealad this year.
“It’s going to be the biggest honor in the world to represent your country at a home World Cup in front of your family and friends,” she told the Guardian in April. “We hope this team is remembered forever and we represent Australia in the best way possible and show that Australia can be a real footballing country.”
Lena Oberdorf, Germany
Oberdorf is known for her defensive playmaking and short, decisive passes from the midfield. She is also ranked in the 99th percentile for league position adjusted tackles, which is when a defender directly confronts an opposing player and steals the ball. She had the highest number of tackles of any player in the Women’s EURO in 2022. This makes Oberdorf a particularly dangerous player to compete against.
At just 21-years-old, she was named as the Young Player of the Season by the UEFA World Champions League. This will be Oberdorf’s second World Cup. She competed for Germany in 2019 while she was just 17-years-old and still in high school.
Asisat Oshaola, Nigeria
Oshoala’s speed and skill make her both an incredible player to watch and a fierce competitor to go up against. The 28-year-old won the African Women’s Footballer of the Year award five times in eight years and is widely considered the best female soccer player on the continent right now.
This year was especially strong for Oshaola. She scored 21 goals for the Barcelona Femeni soccer club, where she played a major role in the team’s historic 62 game win-streak. It was the first time a team in a professional league won more than 50 games in a row, according to FIFA.
“I have always been a player who has always had a dream to be better,” Oshaola previously told the Premium Times, a Nigerian newspaper, when asked about her success. “The goal is to try to get better and have more goals each season and also make sure the team wins each game and of course to win games, you have to score goals.”
Alexia Putellas, Spain
Ranked as the number one female player in the world by both The Guardian and CNN, Putellas is known for her ability to pass and set up goals from the midfield. In her 100 appearances for Spain, the 29-year-old scored 27 goals and became in 2022 the first player to win the Women’s Ballon d’Or two years in a row. The award is voted for by members of the media and given to the best female soccer player in the world.
In July 2022, Putellas’ career was halted after a devastating ACL tear in her left knee, but she returned to training in March and is expected to compete in the World Cup.
Ji So-Yun, South Korea
Ji So-Yun, 32, has scored more goals than any player, male or female, for the South Korean national team. Her skillful dribbling and maneuvering of the ball makes defending against her a challenge. She holds six Super League titles, four FA cups, and two Continental Cups.
This year, she announced her departure from Chelsea to return to her home country of South Korea. So-Yun has lived abroad for over a decade, beginning her professional career in Japan before joining Chelsea in 2014. In 2021, she was named as a first string player on the all time Asian female soccer dream team by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics.
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