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Mon, June 17

USA, host France enter Women’s World Cup as favorites

Megan Rapinoe, a forward for the United States women’s national team, which is headed to the FIFA Women’s World Cup, is introduced for fans during a send-off ceremony following an international friendly soccer match against Mexico, Sunday, May 26, 2019, in Harrison, N.J. The U.S. won 3-0. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Megan Rapinoe, a forward for the United States women’s national team, which is headed to the FIFA Women’s World Cup, is introduced for fans during a send-off ceremony following an international friendly soccer match against Mexico, Sunday, May 26, 2019, in Harrison, N.J. The U.S. won 3-0. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Women’s soccer heads into the 2019 FIFA World Cup in France on an all-time high.

In March Atletico Madrid and Barcelona set the world record for fans at a women’s club match with 60,739. It broke Spain’s previous record of 48,000 in Bilbao in January.

The old world record was 51,000 in Mexico for Monterrey and Tigres in 2018.

Italy also saw its women’s soccer attendance record fall in March when 39,027 people saw Juventus beat Fiorentina in Turin. The overall record attendance for women’s soccer is the 1999 World Cup Final when the USA beat China in the Rose Bowl before 90,000.

Pundits have declared this to be the best WWC field ever. Bookmakers on both side of the Atlantic have installed the host France and the USA as favorites. Too bad they’re set to meet in the quarterfinals if both win their groups.

The games will be on Fox or FS1 in the States. The USA’s first game is at noon on Tuesday on Fox versus Thailand.

The first game is Friday at noon on FS1 when France hosts South Korea.

The TV schedule can be found here: https://www.foxsports.com/soccer/fifa-womens-world-cup/schedule

The group tables can be found here: https://www.fifa.com/womensworldcup/groups/

Group A

France

FIFA ranking: 4

The hosts look to become the first country to ever hold both the men’s and women’s World Cup titles at the same time. Les Bleues are 2-0-1 in its last three meetings against the USA.

South Korea

FIFA ranking: 14

The Taegeuk Ladies enter their third World Cup, all of which coming this century and their best result is the round of 16. Head coach Yoon Deokyeo leads the Korea Republic after having played in the 1990 men’s World Cup.

Norway

FIFA ranking: 12

Once the United States’ chief rival, Gresshoppene goes to France short handed. Reigning Ballon d’Or (world player of the year) winner Ada Hegerberg is staying home in protest of the Norwegian federation’s treatment of their female teams.

Nigeria

FIFA ranking: 38

The Super Falcons are the only African team to have qualified for every Women’s World Cup. Asisat Oshoala, 24, leads the way for Nigeria. She’s won three African player of the year awards, the first coming in 2015.

Group B

Germany

FIFA ranking: 2

Historically the second best team with two titles and three finals appearances, Die Nationalelf will enter France looking for yet another victory. The Germans are undefeated this year, beating France and Sweden and getting a draw against Japan.

China

FIFA ranking: 16

The Steel Roses could be a dark horse team as they won 16 of 21 games since Jia Xiuquan became head coach last May. 2018 AFC Women’s Player of the Year Wang Shuang leads the way for China.

Spain

FIFA ranking: 13

La Roja made their first appearance in the Women’s World Cup, leaving after the group stage, but since then have became a force. They went 8-0 in qualifying and conceding only two goals, becoming the first European team in and in 2019 boast one-goal losses to the USA and England, and wins over Brazil, Cameroon and the Netherlands.

South Africa

FIFA ranking: 49

Banyana Banyana heads to their inaugural Women’s World Cup after taking second at the CAF Women’s Africa Cup, losing to Nigeria on penalty kicks after beating them in the group stage. They haven’t won a game since November, like losing 3-0 to the USA in May.

Group C

Australia

FIFA ranking: 6

The Matildas have made it to six of the seven Women’s World Cups and the quarterfinals are their best finish. The Aussies shockingly fired head coach Alen Stajcic this year but their uniforms are cool, worth a Google for sure.

Italy

FIFA ranking: 15

The Azzurre return to the World Cup after a 20-year absence. Their best finish was the quarterfinals in 1991 back when the FIFA Women’s Cup was unfortunately named the 1st FIFA World Championship for Women’s Football for the M&M’s Cup.

Brazil

FIFA ranking: 10

The Canarinhas have made it to all seven Women’s World Cups and the final once. They rolled through qualification scoring 31 goals and allowing two in seven games at the Copa America Femenina.

Jamaica

FIFA ranking: 53

The Reggae Girlz are sure to be most fans’ second favorite side. The program was dead until Cedella Marley, Bob Marley’s daughter, put together the money to save it. Not only debutants, they’re the first Caribbean country to qualify for the WWC.

Group D

England

FIFA ranking: 3

Fresh off their best Women’s World Cup finish ever in 2015, third, the Lionesses are looking for a title across the Channel. England beat Brazil and Japan and tied the United States to win the SheBelieves Cup in the USA a few months ago.

Scotland

FIFA ranking: 20

The Scots qualified for their first Women’s World Cup and get to face the “auld enemy” in England. The Scottish are so new to the scene that they don’t have a cool nickname like Lionesses or the Football Ferns.

Argentina

FIFA ranking: 37

Another historic rival of England, the Albicelestes haven’t advanced past the group stage yet. The Argentines made it by beating Panama in the intercontinental playoff after not playing any games from 2015 to 2017 when the players went on strike.

Japan

FIFA ranking: 7

Nadeshiko returns to the World Cup after winning the Asian cup, finishing second in 2015 and first in 2011. The women in blue beat Brazil and tied the United States at the SheBelieves Cup earlier this year.

Group E

Canada

FIFA ranking: 5

After a disappointing quarterfinals finish at home in 2015, the Canucks are again contenders. Their star Christine Sinclair is making her fifth World Cup appearance.

Cameroon

FIFA ranking: 46

The Indomitable Lionesses are making their second World Cup appearance and their second in a row. Cameroon made it to the last 16 in their first World Cup. Defender Estelle Johnson has an American father and plays for Sky Blue FC in New Jersey.

New Zealand

FIFA ranking: 19

The Football Ferns have been to four of the first seven Women’s World Cups but hasn’t advance past the group stage yet. The qualified by dominating their island foes like Godzilla, scoring 43 goals and conceding none at the OFC Women’s Nations Cup. They beat Fiji 8-0 in the final.

Group F

USA

FIFA ranking: 1

The holders look like they’ve recovered from their shocking quarterfinals loss at the 2016 Olympics, the first time they didn’t medal. The Yanks have won the World Cup three times and finished runners up once.

Thailand

FIFA ranking: 34

Thailand makes their second World Cup appearance, their second in a row. The Thais punched their ticket with a fourth place finish at the AFC Women’s Asia Cup, their best finish in 32 years, losing to Australia in semifinals in penalties.

Chile

FIFA ranking: 39

La Roja is making its first appearance in the World Cup. The qualified thanks to a second place finish at the Copa America Femenina. Chile is one of four debutants at the big dance.

Sweden

FIFA ranking: 9

It probably wouldn’t be a Women’s World Cup if the USA didn’t play Sweden. The Yanks lead the all time series against the Swedes 21-6-11 but Sweden earned a 0-0 draw against the States in 2015 and 2-1 win in 2011.

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