Football fans eyes will be focused Down Under this summer as the 30 qualifiers will join the two host nations to compete for the biggest prize in female football – The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Australia and New Zealand will take their place alongside 30 qualifiers for the tournament in the hope of being the team to follow the United States into the history books as the latest World Champions.
In this article, we are going to give you our preview of the tournament, a little information about where the games will be played, the eight groups of four, some of the top stars that will feature at the finals and of course, our tip on who to back to win it assuming you are heading to bet365 Sport for a bet!
While not as big as the men’s tournament held last Autumn and won by the Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina, the Women’s World Cup is one of the fastest growing sports events in the world and interest in the event is set to be huge.
Especially with those early morning kick off times here in the United Kingdom!
Remember, here in the UK we are between 8 hours and 12 hours behind some of the venues where the games will be played meaning late nights and early morning kick offs!
So let’s begin with a quick look at how the tournament is organised.
The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup – Hosts & Venues
Australia and New Zealand are the dual hosts of the tournament and both teams were granted a bye into the finals as a result.
- Group Stages
New Zealand have been awarded the top seed in Group A, with Australia granted a similar position in Group B.
The opening stage of the finals will be the Group Stages, which will see Groups A, C, E and G contested in New Zealand.
Meanwhile, fixtures from Groups B, D, F and H will be played in Australia.
After each team has played its three Group Stage games, the top two teams in each group will qualify for the knockout phase of the competition.
- Knockout Phase
The knockout phase begins with the Round of 16, comprising of 8 matches. The 8 winners of those games then progress on to the quarterfinals and so forth until we have the two teams competing in the final.
All matches in the knockout phase are played to a conclusion with extra time and, if required, penalties used to decide the winner.
The tournament begins on the 20th July and continues through until the final on the 20th August.
- Tournament Venues
The tournament will be contested across ten different venues, which are located in nine cities across Australia and New Zealand.
The venues and their capacities and locations are outlined below:
New Zealand Venues
- Eden Park (Auckland, 48,276)
- Wellington Regional Stadium (Wellington, 39,000)
- Forsyth Barr Stadium (Dunedin, 28,744)
- Waikato Stadium (Hamilton, 25,111)
- Stadium Australia (Sydney, 83,500) – World Cup Final only
- Sydney Football Stadium (Sydney, 42,512)
- Lang Park (Brisbane, 52,263)
- Melbourne Rectangular Stadium (Melbourne, 30,052)
- Perth Rectangular Stadium (Perth, 22,225)
- Hindmarsh Stadium (Adelaide, 18,435)
The Group Stage Draw & Predictions
With New Zealand and Australia already allocated the top seed spot in Groups B, the remaining six seeds were drawn into the other six groups of the tournament and they will face the following opponents in the opening group phase.
- New Zealand
As one of the hosts, New Zealand will want to do well in this group, but they have a couple of tough opponents in Norway and Switzerland while the Philippines are something of an unknown quantity at this level.
I’d back the Swiss and Norwegian to qualify from this group ahead of the hosts, who may do just enough to scrape third ahead of the Philippines.
- Republic of Ireland
Australia will be very happy with this draw as they seek to impress on home turf. I can see the Matildas beating Nigeria and the Republic of Ireland with the group likely to be between them and a Canada side, who if they can find form, could be a danger in this tournament.
Nigeria are another rapidly improving side, as are the Irish, and if Canada don’t improve then they could be one of the shock group stage exits here. That said, I still feel they will scrape through behind the Aussie with the Irish back in third.
- Costa Rica
There’s a real mix of teams in this group. Japan are former World Champions but not perhaps at their best at the moment. Spain would be much stronger if they can name Las 15, the women who have withdrawn from the squad due to manager issues, but that seems unlikely.
I still see those two teams qualifying from this group as I am not sure what Zambia and Costa Rica can offer in attack against two such experienced and talented teams.
Can the Lionesses follow up their Euro 2022 success with a win at the World Cup? Without Leah Williamson, Beth Meade and Fran Kirby, it looks a big ask but Sarina Wegmann’s team should be rightly regarded as a favourite.
The Danes will be a tricky opponent here though as they have had some outstanding results of late however if the two European sides can get results against Haiti and the Chinese then I’d expect both to progress comfortably.
- United States
The current holders and four-time winners of the tournament, United States will face the team they beat in the 2019 final, the Netherlands in the group stages with these two teams being favourites to progress from Group E.
Vietnam are something of an unknown factor at this level and Portugal are not yet quite at the level of their Iberian counterparts Spain, which means that the USA and Holland should comfortably qualify from this group.
France and Brazil probably did not want to draw each other in the Group Stages and it will clearly be a battle between the two to top this group. I am edging towards the Brazilians landing the top spot here though.
France will finish second and it will be a battle between Jamaica and Panama for third.
- South Africa
An improving duo of South Africa and Argentina may be eyeing up a shock here if Italy or Sweden fail to perform at their best this summer. The Swedes are ranked 3rd in the world but recent performances have been poor and Italy, while technically great, do lack a goal threat.
Argentina are improving quickly as a nation but this is a young and somewhat inexperienced team and that could count against them. South Africa are an emerging nation in women’s football but I think they will fall short of being able to qualify this time.
- South Korea
Two-time winners of this tournament Germany will be the nailed on favourites to win this group and it would be a surprise if they did not win all three games to top the group comfortably.
However, it could be a real battle for second with Morocco, Colombia and South Korea all feeling likely that they have a good chance to nip into second spot behind the Germans and reach the qualifying stage with South Korea being my pick to edge out Colombia here.
The FIFA Women’s World Cup runs from 20th July to 20th August, so remember to tune in when the finals get under way!