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Five players to watch at the 2023 Women’s World Cup
There is no ‘i’ in team; that’s how the famous saying goes. There is, however, one in individual brilliance - which is exactly what the following list of talented footballers all possess.
Whether it’s a leader at the back, a midfield maestro pulling the strings or a forward with an insatiable appetite for goals, having that one special player can convert any nation from one of the pack into a contender.
With the 2023 Women’s World Cup now upon us, here at BetUK we’ve assembled a list of players that could catch your eye with their displays in Australia and New Zealand…
Age: 29; Position: Forward; Nation: Australia; Caps: 122; Goals: 64
We begin this list with the home nation hero, Sam Kerr. Primed to have a tournament to remember in front of her adoring fans, it’s no surprise she ranks as one of the favourites in our top scorer markets.
Her natural nous for scoring goals goes relatively unmatched in the women’s game - registering 54 goals in 67 appearances for Chelsea at club level since joining. This past season saw Kerr slip slightly lower than her insanely high standards, with only 12 in 21 (compared to 20 in 20 the season prior) but she did still outperform her 10.71 xG on the season.
The former FWA Women's Footballer of the Year also made her mark in the FA Cup - averaging two goals a game during Chelsea’s run to the trophy, including the winner in the final - as well as the Champions League where she bagged five goals and an assist in 10 games.
Domestic goalscoring has translated onto the international stage with Australia for Kerr. The spearhead of the Matildas attack has tallied 64 goals for the national team; placing herself atop the list of all-time Australian goalscorers. She also is the only Aussie in history to score a hat-trick at a World Cup after a trio of delightful goals against Jamaica at the last edition in 2019.
Stat attack: Kerr is one of just two players - the other being France centre-back Wendie Renard - to have been nominated for every Ballon d’Or Féminin since the award’s inception in 2018
Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw
Age: 26; Position: Forward; Nation: Jamaica; Caps: 39; Goals: 56
One player that witnessed Kerr’s record-breaking feat was Khadija “Bunny” Shaw. The Jamaican midfielder couldn’t influence the result on that day, but everything that the Reggae Girlz have done well since has involved Shaw, including her 12 goals in qualifiers which propelled them to this tournament.
There’s also an argument that Shaw enters the tournament as the most in-form player. She scored 31 goals in 30 games for Manchester City in the WSL and landed the Women’s FA Cup top scorer award with eight goals - two more than Kerr - despite the fact City only played three ties.
Most of Shaw’s scoring ability comes from her prowess inside the six-yard box. Over the last year, she’s registered an average of almost 10 touches a game in the opposition area and almost six shots per 90 (5.83). Lending itself to an unbelievable statline of almost a goal every 90 minutes over the past calendar year (0.90).
Stat attack: Shaw is the only women’s player from the Caribbean to win the CONCACAF Player of the Year Award and she is already Jamaica’s all-time leading scorer
Age: 29; Position: Midfielder; Nation: Spain; Caps: 102; Goals: 28
Spanish hopes of success Down Under rest heavily on the shoulders of Putellas. A former back-to-back Ballon d’or winner, a former Best FIFA Women’s Player and European Women’s Player of the Year, Putellas stands alone as arguably the greatest player in women’s football… when healthy.
Sadly, health has been the biggest obstruction in her illustrious career. She was forced to miss nine months of football due to a knee injury suffered a year ago. Before this, she was creating sensational statistical seasons. In 2021/22 alone, Putellas produced 36 goal involvements in just 26 games, while also scoring 11 goals in 10 Champions League appearances. This creativity makes her an interesting price at 8/1 to finish as the tournament’s top assister here.
It’s true that she hasn’t quite been the same since her return though. Despite aiding Barcelona to a treble, the 29-year-old only managed one goal in five appearances. Combining a checkered injury past with her protest against Jorge Vilda’s current management of the Spanish national team and it’s clear Putellas will certainly be a player to watch - for better or worse.
Stat Attack: Since the inaugural Ballon d’Or Feminin was awarded in 2018, Putellas is the only two-time winner of the award. She is the only women’s player to win the Best FIFA Women’s Player award twice as well
Age: 32; Position: Defender; Nation: France; Caps: 146; Goals: 34
It’s time to show some love to the defensive players - and they don’t come much better than Renard.
A French brick wall at the back, Renard has led her country to the quarter-final of the 2019 World Cup and the semi-final of the Euros. Iis it time to go one step further and into an international final? You can have your say on their chances here.
Well, if France were to make it all the way, Renard would likely be a huge reason why. Her 141 caps bring much-needed experience to the Les Bleues rearguard and her calmness on the ball aids the way the team likes to play.
The nucleus of most attacks have come from Renard at both club and international level, with almost eight progressive passes per 90 over the last year placing her in the top 1% of central defenders in the women’s game.
Her 6ft 2in stature also makes her a presence in both boxes, reflected by her 34 international goals from central defence.
Stat Attack: Renard was named in her seventh successive Women’s World XI in 2023, meaning she has been in every single selection since the award began in 2015.
Age: 31; Position:Defender; Nation: England; Caps: 105; Goals: 12
We could have chosen numerous players from an extremely talented Lionesses squad - Rachel Daly, Alessia Russo or Keira Walsh to name a few - but we are sticking with last World Cup’s Silver Ball winner Bronze.
While predominantly operating as a defender, Bronze’s most eye-catching performances come when she can influence the play in the final third - including the last two tournaments where she has ranked second-highest in assists amongst England players.
Her return to full fitness in 2022-23 coincided with England’s impressive defensive run between July and September of last year, which was headlined by the Lionesses lifting the European Championship. With Bronze’s leadership at the back, Sarina Wiegman’s side amassed six clean sheets in eight games across those two months.
Stat Attack: Bronze is the first English woman to win the Champions League with two different teams, having done so three times with Olympique Lyonnais and once with FC Barcelona