Women’s World Cup 2019: Team-by-team guide
Will the United States retain their title? Can England’s Lionesses get past the last four?
The USA players celebrate their victory over Japan in the Fifa Women’s World Cup 2015 at the BC Place Stadium in Vancouver. Photograph: Franck Fife/Getty Images
World ranking: 1
World Cup record: They’ve appeared in all seven World Cup finals and have never finished outside the medals, winning the tournament three times (in 1991, 1999, 2015), finishing as runners-up in 2011 and third in 1995, 2003 and 2007.
The Odds: 11-4
Star Turn: Alex Morgan. Take your pick, the squad is packed with some of the best players in the world game, but Morgan remains the United States’ biggest star and after another prolific year for her country, during which she scored 18 goals in 20 games, the Orlando Pride striker is the favourite to be top scorer in France.
World ranking: 2
World Cup record: Another nation to have featured in all seven World Cup finals so far, their most successful period when they won back-to-back tournaments in 2003 and 2007, having been beaten finalists in 1995. They have always reached at least the last eight, losing to eventual winners the United States in the semi-finals last time around.
The Odds: 11-2
Star Turn: Dzsenifer Marozsán. Top scorer Alexandra Popp might get the bulk of the attention, but the Hungarian-born Marozsán, runner-up in the 2018 World Player of the Year awards, is usually the one who makes the team tick. The midfielder is coming off yet another all-conquering season with Lyon where she won her third Champions League in a row.
World ranking: 3
World Cup record: Their finest World Cup hour came four years ago when they reached the semi-finals where they lost to Japan, going on to take bronze by beating Germany in the third place play-off. Before that, they made it to the quarter-finals on three occasions, but failed to qualify for the tournament three other times.
The Odds: 6-1
Star Turn: Nikita Parris. After another brilliant season with Manchester City, at the end of which she was voted Player of the Year by the Football Writers’ Association, the 25-year-old striker/winger secured the ultimate move in the club game, Olympique Lyon, who won their fourth consecutive Champions League last season, snapping her up.
World ranking: 4
World Cup record: They missed out on qualification for four of the seven World Cups so far and failed to get out of their group in 2003, the first time they made it to the finals. But they made their breakthrough in 2011 when they made it to the semi-finals, losing on penalties to Germany in the quarter-finals last time around.
The Odds: 7-2 favourites
Star Turn: Amandine Henry. The French captain is one of seven players in the squad from European champions Lyon where she has, literally, won it all (several times over). She was runner-up to the United States’ Carli Lloyd in the voting for Player of the Tournament at the 2015 World Cup and as the rock in the French midfield there’ll be a whole heap of pressure on her to lead the hosts to victory.
World ranking: 5
World Cup record: They’ve qualified for the last six World Cup finals, but failed to get out of their group in four of those tournaments. Their best showing came in 2003 when they reached the semi-finals, losing to Sweden, and in 2015 England got the better of them in the last eight.
The Odds: 22-1.
Star Turn: Jordyn Huitema. Veteran forward Christine Sinclair has long been the face of Canada’s national team, but 18-year-old Huitema is the most likely to inherit the mantle having been signed last month on a four-year deal by Paris Saint-Germain and given the chance to shine on the European stage. The striker made her debut for Canada when she was just 15.
World ranking: 6
World Cup record: They missed out on the first World Cup in 1991 but have qualified for every one since, only without making any major impression. They failed to get out of their group in the first three, and were knocked out at the quarter-final stage in the last three.
The Odds: 12-1
Star Turn: Sam Kerr. In any debate over who is the greatest of them all in the current game, the 25-year-old forward would have plenty of support. A veritable goal machine, Kerr is the all-time top scorer in the United States’ National Women’s Soccer League (with 61 goals from 104 games) where she now plays with Chicago Red Stars.
World ranking: 7
World Cup record: They’ve never failed to qualify for the World Cup and have reached the final of the last two tournaments, winning it in Germany in 2011 when they beat the United States in a penalty shootout, before losing to the same opponents in the 2015 final in Canada.
The Odds: 12-1
Star Turn: Saki Kumagai. One of just two of the Japanese squad who play abroad, captain and defender Kumagai collected her fourth Champions League medal and sixth league title with Lyon last season having previously had a spell with Frankfurt in the German league.
World ranking: 8
World Cup record: For a country with such a rich footballing tradition it’s taken the women’s game there a long time to prosper, the national team failing to qualify for the first six World Cup finals. They finally made it in 2015, but their stay didn’t last long, losing to the reigning champions Japan in the round of 16. As the reigning European champions, though, they have loftier expectations this time around.
The Odds: 12-1
Star Turn: Vivianne Miedema. You could pick any one of half a dozen from the Dutch team, among them 2017 world player of the year Lieke Martens of Barcelona, Lyon’s Shanice van de Sanden and Arsenal’s Danielle van de Donk, but the latter’s club-mate Miedema, PFA Player of the Year and top scorer in England in the season just ended, is as lethal a striker as there is in world football.
World ranking: 9
World Cup record: They’ve made it to all seven World Cup finals, only once failing to get out of their group. They reached the semi-finals in 1991, 2003 and 2011, progressing from them just the once when they lost the 2003 final after extra-time to Germany.
The Odds: 25-1
Star Turn: Caroline Seger. With a remarkable 193 caps to her name, the 34-year-old Swedish captain will be playing in her fourth - and likely last - World Cup where she will once again be the team’s anchor in midfield. She’s won it all at club level through the years, with clubs in Sweden, the United States and France and captained her country to silver at the 2016 Olympic Games.
World ranking: 10
World Cup record: Another nation to never have missed on qualification for the finals, their best runs coming in 1999, when they lost to eventual winners the United States in the semi-finals, and in 2007 when they reached their one and only final, Germany beating them 2-0.
The Odds: 25-1
Star Turn: Marta. Widely regarded as the greatest female player of all time, at 33 this is likely to be the six-time World Player of the Year’s last chance to add a World Cup winner’s medal to her hefty collection of honours. The chances of that are, though, slim, but the number 10 will, at least, provide a few moments of magic.
World ranking: 12
World Cup record: They were one of the big guns of women’s football in the 1990s, reaching the inaugural World Cup final in 1991, where they lost to the United States, before beating Germany to win the tournament four years later. China and Germany ousted them at the semi-final stage in 1999 and 2007, respectively, and they haven’t reached the last four since.
The Odds: 40-1
Star Turn: Caroline Hansen. In the absence of 2018 Ballon D’Or winner Ada Hegerberg, much of Norway’s hopes of making an impression will depend on the form of the gifted 24-year-old winger who was signed last month by Barcelona from Wolfsburg where she won three league titles in a row.
World ranking: 13
World Cup record: The 2015 World Cup was the first they ever qualified for - and it ended after three games when they finished bottom of their group following defeats by Brazil and South Korea, a draw with Costa Rica earning them their only point.
The Odds: 25-1
Star Turn: Jennifer Hermoso. After spells with Tyreso in Sweden, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain, the 29-year-old returned to her first club Atlético Madrid last year and helped them to the league title with 24 goals, enough to earn her the Golden Boot. She’s the leading scorer for her country too, their prospects in France partly dependent on her maintaining that form.
World ranking: 14
World Cup record: This will be just their third World Cup, their debut in 2003 ending at the group stage after three defeats, including a 7-1 hammering by Norway, while France ousted them in the round of 16 in 2015.
Star Turn: Ji So-yun. One of just three of the South Korean squad to play outside their country, the attacking midfielder has established herself as one of the best in the world since joining Chelsea in 2014, voted Players’ Player of the Year in her first season. She has an eye for goal too, averaging one every other game in her 115 caps so far.
World ranking: 15
World Cup record: It’s 20 years since they last qualified for the finals in what was only their second appearance in the tournament, the team failing to get out of their group on that occasion having reached the quarter-finals in the inaugural World Cup.
Star Turn: Barbara Bonansea. The skilful Juventus winger was the driving creative force behind her club’s league and cup double last season, chipping in with 13 goals, and with ambitions to play professionally outside Italy, this will be the 27-year-old’s chance to catch the eye.
World ranking: 16
World Cup record: Apart from a blip in 2011 when they missed out on qualification, China have reached the finals of every World Cup, making it to at least the quarter-finals in each one. They suffered the agony of losing the 1999 final on penalties to hosts the United States after a 0-0 draw.
Star Turn: Wang Shuang. By far China’s biggest star, Shuang is the only member of the squad to play abroad having joined Paris Saint-Germain last summer. The forward is the reigning Asian footballer of the year and carries the bulk of her nation’s hopes going in to the tournament.
World ranking: 19
World Cup record: They qualified for the inaugural tournament, missed out on the next three, but made it to the last three World Cup finals. They’ve never made it out of their group, though.
The Odds: 100-1
Star Turn: Ali Riley. The American-born New Zealand captain has over 120 caps to her name and a successful club career that saw her win multiple league titles with FC Rosengard in Sweden before joining Chelsea last summer. Having already played in three World Cups, the defender’s experience will be critical to the outsiders’ prospects.
World ranking: 20
World Cup record: This is the first time they have qualified for the finals.
The Odds: 66-1
Star Turn: Kim Little. While Chelsea’s Erin Cuthbert is Scotland’s rising star, Little, who at 28 already has 133 caps, is their most experienced and successful player at club level having won it all in two spells with Arsenal, also having fruitful stints with Seattle and Melbourne. The attacking midfielder is rated as one of the best in the world game.
World ranking: 34
World Cup record: This will be their second World Cup having made their debut in 2015 when they finished third in their group - there was no shame in that though, Germany and Norway filling the top two spots.
The Odds: 500-1
Star Turn: Suchawadee Nildhamrong. The Californian born striker has scored 12 goals in 17 games since making her debut for Thailand in 2017, and they’ll need her to be at her sharpest in front of goal if they are to have any hoping of making an impression in France.
World ranking: 37
World Cup record: Long in the shadow of their south American buddies Brazil, Argentina have only ever previously qualified for two World Cup finals, failing to get out of their groups in 2003 and 2007.
The Odds: 500-1
Star Turn: Estefanía Banini. The Argentinean captain and her country’s chief creative force is widely travelled having played club football in Chile, the United States and Spain, where she was on loan at Levante from Washington Spirit last season. Having been drawn in a group with England, Japan and Scotland, though, she’ll struggle to lead her nation in to the knock-out phase.
World ranking: 38
World Cup record: The long-time dominant force in African women’s football, Nigeria have qualified for every World Cup, but only once got out of their group, losing to Brazil in the 1999 quarter-finals.
The Odds: 100-1
Star Turn: Asisat Oshoala. The Barcelona forward made her name at the 2014 Under-20 World Cup where she was player of the tournament and top scorer, enough to earn her a move to England where she had spells with Liverpool and Arsenal before moving on to China. Scorer of Barcelona’s consolation goal against Lyon in last season’s Champions League final.
World ranking: 39
World Cup record: France 2019 will be their World Cup debut.
The Odds: 500-1
Star Turn: Christiane Endler. While half the Chilean squad play their club football in Spain, captain Endler has been with Paris Saint-Germain since moving there from Valencia last year. As goalkeeper she is expected to be decidedly busy for the rank outsiders, not least when they come up against the United States in their second group game.
World ranking: 46
World Cup record: This is just their second World Cup having put up an impressive showing on their debut in 2015, qualifying from their group thanks to a surprise win over Switzerland, and only losing 1-0 to China in the round of 16.
The Odds: 500-1
Star Turn: Gabrielle Onguéné. The 30-year-old striker and player of the tournament at the last Africa Cup of Nations plays her club football with CSKA Moscow where she has an impressive goals tally, but whether or not she’ll get many chances to add to it in France remains to be seen. She did, though, score twice at the last World Cup when Cameroon sprang a surprise by getting out of their group.
World ranking: 49
World Cup record: This will be their first ever appearance in the World Cup finals.
The Odds: 500-1
Star Turn: Thembi Kgatlana. One of world football’s more travelled players, the 2018 African Footballer of the Year moved from Cape Town to Houston Dash and on to Beijing Phoenix in China last February after being let go by the Texan club. She’s scored plenty of goals wherever she’s played, but might struggle to add to her tally in France with the second lowest ranked nation in the tournament.
World ranking: 53
World Cup record: Another of the World Cup debutantes, Jamaica the first ever Caribbean nation to reach the finals.
The Odds: 500-1
Star Turn: Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw. The United States-based striker had the distinction of being the leading scorer, with 19 goals, out of all the 144 nations attempting to qualify for the World Cup, and currently stands on 31 goals in just 22 international appearances. Jamaica will be up against it, but Shaw is their chief hope of ruffling feather or two.