The Women’s World Cup has been in operation since 1991 although there were only twelve nations who competed in China on that particular year and many of the matches were fairly one-sided, with champions USA and runners-up Norway far more accomplished than any of the other teams in the tournament.
Things have changed a great deal since then and the 2019 tournament will feature twenty-four countries who will be competing in France for the chance to win the eighth edition of the World Cup. Realistically, half of the teams in the tournament can come through and become champions of the planet, with matches expected to be more competitive than ever before.
There are six groups at the 2019 Women’s World Cup, with the top two teams from each section going through to the last sixteen along with the top four performing nations who end up in third spot. The tournament then becomes a series of knockout phases until the final is played on 7 July in Lyon.
Hosts France favourites to win first World Cup
France Women have never been any further than the semi-finals of a World Cup, although Corinne Diacre’s side are looking to ride on the crest of a wave in front of partisan crowds and they will be inspired by the French men’s team who won the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Les Bleues might not have a convincing track record when it comes to major competitions although they have been a work in progress over the past few years and have several members of the Lyon team who recently won the Women’s Champions League including captain Amandine Henry and vice captain Eugenie Le Sommer.
The duo might feel this is their golden opportunity to win a major tournament with the national team, while Wendie Renard is another Lyon player to amass over 100 caps for her country. She’s likely to be flanked in defence by club team-mates Amel Majri and Griedge Mbock Bathy, with the French side trading at around 7/2 and those odds will shorten significantly if they get off to a winning start.
Team USA bidding for fourth World Cup triumph
The USWNT have a sterling World Cup record and it would be a major surprise if Jill Ellis’ side finished outside the top four places. After all, the States have made the semi-final stage of the tournament every time since its inauguration and there have been three triumphs in 1991, 1999 and 2015. The latter success means that they arrive in France as the reigning champions and many regard them as the team to beat. They look an attractive proposition at 7/2 with BetHard.
Ellis has been in charge since 2014 and offers an extremely steadying presence to the national team set-up, with Team USA having enjoyed a spate of victories in the lead-up to the 2019 World Cup. Despite England winning the SheBelieves Cup in the States, America were also unbeaten during the tournament and have since beaten Brazil, Australia, Belgium, South Africa and New Zealand in a series of friendly encounters.
From an attacking point-of-view, there is no better team at the Women’s World Cup thanks to having the option of co-captains Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe. They have a combined 255 goals between them in a USA jersey and the whole squad come into this tournament off the back of featuring in a competitive National Women’s Soccer League.
Can Phil Neville steer England to success?
England Women’s football team used to arrive at major tournaments with an outside chance of success, although expectation levels have never been higher due to the domestic game becoming professionalised in the United Kingdom. The FA Women’s Super League now compares favourably to any other division in the world, with Arsenal and Manchester City among the leading teams.
There are seven City players in the Lionesses squad for France, with captain Steph Houghton a rock at the back and she’ll play in front of experienced goalkeeper Karen Bardsley. Jill Scott and Ellen White are the others who are likely to feature prominently and Head Coach Phil Neville will be delighted to have such a strong core of players from one particular club.
However, Nikita Parris is hard to leave out after making an impact for European champions Lyon, with defender Lucy Bronze also playing for the French club and there’s also late bloomer Jodie Taylor and Rachel Daly who play for Reign FC and Houston Dash respectively in the National Women’s Soccer League.
England finished third in the 2015 World Cup which was regarded as an outstanding achievement although the same placing four years later would be seen in a disappointing light. The Lionesses made the semi-finals of Euro 2017 and will be making the short trip to France aiming to win the competition and leave no stone unturned.
Don’t disregard a strong Germany team
Germany are generally trading a smidgeon shorter than England in the outright betting and they are hard to disregard considering the strong track record that Die Nationalelf have enjoyed since the first World Cup in 1991. They finished fourth that year and have since lifted the trophy on two occasions, with the European side triumphing in 2003 and 2007.
We also can’t ignore that the Germans were European champions on six consecutive occasions between 1995-2013, although things appeared to have tailed off for this proud nation and former player Martina Voss-Tecklenburg has been installed to restore the glory of previous tournaments.
The majority of the German squad operate in the prestigious Frauen-Bundesliga, with players mainly coming from Bayern Munich, Wolfsburg, Freiburg and Essen. Wolfsburg’s Alexandra Popp will captain the national team and she has a formidable hit-rate of 45 goals in 95 appearances for her national team.
The other player of note is Dzsenifer Marozsán who has been part of that successful Lyon team last season and the 27-year-old has scored 32 goals for her national team despite operating in midfield. Sara Dabritz also plays her club football in France, with the 24-year-old potentially about to become one of the stars in this Women’s World Cup although the squad do seem a touch short of goals.
Netherlands, Japan and Australia all have high hopes in France
While there are four countries trading at single figure odds, it would be wrong to narrow down the field to this quartet of teams. Women’s football has never been more competitive and there are nations available at bigger odds who could yet enjoy a triumph in 2019, especially as the knockout element adds some randomness to the overall result.
The Netherlands didn’t even play in a World Cup until 2015 thanks to the late formation of a professional network, although they made the last sixteen in Canada and used that experience as a springboard for a shock win at Euro 2017 where the Leeuwinnen were able to prosper on home soil and announce themselves as a force.
Japan were champions at the 2011 World Cup before losing to the United States four years later and most of the squad play in the illustrious Nadeshiko League. A recent 3-0 defeat to England in the SheBelieves Cup will have sent alarm bells ringing and there was then a 3-1 reverse against France in a friendly, suggesting that there are defensive issues ahead of the tournament.
Australia could be the dark horse at the 2019 Women’s World Cup, with the Matildas having reached the quarter final stage in 2007, 2011 and 2015. Ante Milicic’s side were recently involved in a crazy game against the United States which saw them lose 5-3, although they had won four matches previously to this and also recorded a 1-1 draw with England back in October.
Alex Morgan favourite to be Top Scorer
It’s hardly a surprise to see Alex Morgan heading the Golden Boot betting market, with the Orlando Pride striker having recently surpassed the century mark in terms of goals. Carli Lloyd is also in that club and the Sky Blue FC forward will hope she gets enough game time during the group stage where more goals are traditionally plundered.
Eugenie Le Sommer is the pin-up star of the World Cup in France and the Lyon forward is trading at 7/1 with William Hill, with the vice-captain having scored 74 international goals and she also has a remarkable strike rate at club level which would suggest that the 30-year-old is an excellent each-way wager.
Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema is a blossoming talent at Arsenal and she could be firing on all cylinders for the Netherlands this summer, with the 22-year-old having already notched 57 times in 74 games for her country.