An incredible summer of sport is about to get even better when the Women’s World Cup kicks off next week (20 July).
Australia and New Zealand are hosting the tournament, which promises to build on all the excitement and drama of last year’s Women’s Euros, where the Lionesses prevailed.
Women’s football in the UK received an incredible boost last July when Leah Williamson led England to victory against Germany at Wembley in front of 87,000 fans.
So, can the Lionesses go one step further and make history down under by winning the Women’s World Cup?
It certainly won’t be easy with the bookies currently favouring the US – the defending champions – who have taken the title four times since the tournament’s inception in 1991.
Then there’s Canada (Olympic champions), Germany (who have won twice) and one-time winners Japan and Norway. And don’t discount Australia, playing on home turf and captained by Sam Kerr, the Chelsea star ranked by FIFA as the number one female player in the world.
But the Lionesses cannot be underestimated. Many of the big guns who led them to that thrilling Euros victory last year, including Lucy Bronze, Keira Walsh and Georgia Stanway, are returning, as is their star coach Sarina Wiegman (FIFA Women’s Coach for 2022).
Here’s a rundown of what football fans need to know about the event.
- This year’s Women’s World Cup will be the biggest ever with 32 teams playing. The Philippines, Morocco, Vietnam, Ireland and Zambia will all compete in the tournament for the first time.
- England’s first match is against Haiti in Brisbane on Saturday, 22 July. Their other group-stage matches are against Denmark (Friday, 28 July) and China (Tuesday, 1 August).
- The final is at Stadium Australia in Sydney on 20 August (capacity: 83,500).
- FIFA says it’s on course to sell 1.5 million tickets in total for this year’s tournament (yes, that’s a record).
- This year, Brazil’s Marta, aged 37, will compete in her sixth Women’s World Cup. As incredible as this achievement is, it still puts her behind her countrywoman Miraildes Maciel Mota, aka ‘Formiga’. She played at seven World Cups and seven Olympics and is Brazil’s most-capped footballer. In case you’re wondering, Formiga means ‘ant’ in Portuguese and refers to the footballer’s unselfish football style.
Will you be tuning in to the Women’s World Cup this year? If so, tell us who your favourite Lioness is and where you’ll be watching on facebook or instagram.