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2023 Women’s World Cup group-by-group guide
After 1,474 days the Women’s World Cup is back on our screens and a largely football-less summer is finally over.
For the first time in the tournament’s history, 32 teams head Down Under to compete for the most coveted prize in women’s football.
The 2023 installment of the competition provides a blend of seasoned nations with veteran experience and relative newcomers to the scene. Of course the United States return after their heroics in 2019 - when they set about securing themselves back-to-back World Cup trophies - while reigning European champions England try to go one better on the biggest stage.
Elsewhere, the 2023 World Cup will play host to the final chapter in the historic international careers of Brazil forward Marta and American midfielder Megan Rapinoe, who both announced they would be retiring at the conclusion of the competition.
Here at BetUK, we’ve prepared this in-depth group-by-group guide full of useful stats and facts to help you navigate the early stages of the biggest tournament in women’s football.
Please note all odds correct at time of publication and all kick-off times are given in BST
Teams: New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Switzerland
Odds (to win group): Norway 3/10; Switzerland 21/4; New Zealand 6/1; Philippines 100/1
New Zealand are the home nation headliner in group A but, in a section with Norway and Switzerland, the Football Ferns will likely have to fight to fend off an early exit.
Norway, ranked 12th in the FIFA Women’s world rankings, are clear frontrunners to top the group after an impressive qualifying campaign. Hege Riise’s side stormed to success with rearguard stability - only conceding two goals in ten matches - and a potent attacking threat. They notched 47 goals in 10 games during qualifiers, with 15 different players finding the back of the net.
The Grasshopper’s aforementioned offensive output has been boosted by the return of Ada Hegerberg. The former Ballon d’Or winner returns to the World Cup stage after missing the 2019 tournament out of protest towards unequal treatment for the women’s side in comparison to the men. International rust may still be a factor with Hegerberg but, at 20/1, the Norwegian forward could be a dark horse for tournament top scorer.
Another European outfit looking to play the spoiler’s role Down Under is Switzerland. Their chances of success rely on the celebrated trio of Lia Walti, Ramona Bachmann, and Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic. Coach Inka Grings even described Switzerland’s reliance on the threesome as “damn dangerous”. If their best players show up in Group A, they could grab everybody’s attention early on.
The other teams in the section - New Zealand and the Philippines - are very much outsiders ahead of the tournament’s inaugural game on July 20th. The Football Ferns in particular enter the competition in treacherous form. Jitka Klimkova’s team went ten straight games without a victory between October 2022 and April 2023, conceding 25 goals and only netting two.
Philippines head to the World Cup after impressive performances in both the AFC Olympic Qualifiers and the Southeast Asian games. Despite this upturn in form, the Filipinas tend to struggle against higher-level opposition; they have only beaten one European side in their history (Bosnia and Herzegovina, who they defeated twice).
Group fixtures: New Zealand v Norway (08:00, 20 July); Philippines v Switzerland (06:00, 21 July); New Zealand v Philippines (06:30, 25 July), Switzerland v Norway (09:00, 25 July), Switzerland v New Zealand (08:00, 30 July), Norway v Philippines (08:00, 30 July)
Group winner plays: Runner-up Group C
Group runner-up plays: Winner Group C
Teams: Australia, Canada, Nigeria, Republic of Ireland
Odds (to win group): Australia 1/2; Canada 2/1; Republic of Ireland 17/1; Nigeria 35/1
The air of optimism surrounding the Australian national team ahead of this tournament is palpable. Manager Tony Gustavsson has a golden generation of female talent at his disposal, including the talismanic Sam Kerr leading the way.
The Matildas’ all-time leading goalscorer with 63 goals, Kerr enters the tournament as one of the early favourites for the golden boot award at 8/1 with BetUK and she could very well fire the Aussies to a successful tournament in front of her adoring fans.
Australia’s biggest blockade in the search for Group B supremacy is Canada - the reigning Olympic gold medalists. Built on defensive solidity, the Canadians will prove to be a tough opposition to beat rather than a team that will get into a shootout. During the qualifiers, Bev Priestman’s team didn’t concede a single goal until the final.
This World Cup may provide the final swansong in the legendary career of Canadian forward Christine Sinclair. At 40 years old, Canada’s leading scorer (190) and appearance maker (323) looks set to lead the line for one final tournament.
While Group B looks top-heavy from the outset due to the illustrious histories of both Canada and Australia, the Republic of Ireland enter this tournament as an unknown entity on the world stage.
The Girls in Green managed to make it to their first World Cup after being one of the best second-placed finishers during qualifiers. They slotted in just behind Sweden in Group A, before knocking out Scotland in the play-offs to cement their spot Down Under.
World Cup regulars Nigeria are the final team in the section but, after falling at the first hurdle in four of the last five tournaments, the Super Eagles don’t bring much in regards to expectation ahead of this one.
Group fixtures: Australia v Rep of Ireland (08:00, 20 July); Nigeria v Canada (03:30, 21 July); Canada v Rep of Ireland (13:00, 26 July); Australia v Nigeria (11:00, 27 July); Canada v Australia (11:00, 31 July); Rep of Ireland v Nigeria (11:00, 31 July).
Group winner plays: Runner-up Group D
Group Runner-up plays: Winner Group D
Teams: Costa Rica, Japan, Spain, Zambia
Odds (to win group): Spain 1/9; Japan 5/1; Zambia 80/1; Costa Rica 100/1
Although they’ve never made it past the round of 16 at a World Cup, Spain have cemented themselves as an early favourite for the 2023 tournament. This upturn in perception for the Spanish national team has coincided with the meteoric rise of Barcelona midfielder Alexia Putellas - a back-to-back Ballon d’Or winner.
Putellas has left fans and pundits alike purring with her calmness in midfield and her midas touch in the final third; a touch which was on full display in her goal-laden 2021-22 season where she registered 36 goal involvements in 26 games. She’s currently listed as a very generous 8/1 to be the most prolific creator in Australia and New Zealand.
Sadly the midfield maestro missed out on the European Championships last year due to injury, but she has recovered in time to play a prominent role for La Roja.
It’s a slight surprise that a nation with such pedigree in the women’s game like Japan aren’t viewed as group favourites. However, Futoshi Ikeda’s side have left a lot to be desired since making back-to-back finals in 2011 (which they won) and 2019 (which they lost).
A glaring issue for the Japanese is their conversion rate in front of goal. Earlier this year at the SheBelives Cup, Japan took a combined 29 shots on goal when they placed Brazil and USA, but only three were on target and none found the back of the net.
One shining light for the nation is 18-year-old Maiko Hamano. The Chelsea forward has already begun collecting accolades as she achieved the Golden Ball at the Under-20 Women’s World Cup and her loan move to Hammarby has proven fruitful with seven goals this campaign. Can she translate it to the biggest stage to propel Japan’s chances?
Both Zambia and Costa Rica are extremely unlikely candidates to advance from this group. Zambia are the lowest-ranked team in the entire World Cup (77th) but they do promise excitement. The Copper Queens’ last seven outings have featured an average of 4.7 goals per game but that does include conceding two or more in five of the last six fixtures.
As for Costa Rica, they’ve struggled to collect persistent form heading into this tournament. Under the tutelage of Amelia Valverde, Las Ticas lost seven of ten games between November and July, losing three of them by a 4-0 scoreline. You could back Spain to rack up another 4-0 win in the opening game here.
Group fixtures: Spain v Costa Rica (08:30, 21 July); Zambia v Japan (08:00, 22 July); Japan v Costa Rica (06:00, 26 July); Spain v Zambia (08:30, 26 July); Costa Rica v Zambia (08:00, 31 July); Japan v Spain (08:00, 31 July).
Group winner plays: Runner-up Group A
Group runner-up plays: Winner Group A
Teams: China, Denmark, England, Haiti
Odds (to win group): England 1/25; Denmark 11/1; Chile 40/1; Haiti 100/1
Fresh off of European Championship success, the Lionesses head Down Under to try to add a World Cup crown to their growing cabinet. However, with a lorry load of important injuries and an indifferent start to the year’s schedule, is the shine beginning to diminish for Sarina Wiegmann’s side?
Firstly, the lengthy list of wounded women has to be addressed. Euro stalwarts such as Beth Mead, Fran Kirby, and captain Leah Williamson will all be watching from the sidelines when their teammates take the pitch in Australia. England can still field capable replacements but the absence of the captain in particular is sure to be felt.
However, all is not doom and gloom. Many of the familiar faces that thrived in the success last summer are back for another crack at international glory.
Alessia Russo returns to the team after a stellar season with Manchester United, scoring 10 goals in 19 starts, and massively outperforming her 6.7 xG. While, new additions to the squad such as Rachel Daly look primed to explode on to the World Cup scene after a 20-plus goal season domestically. Forward Lauren Hemp, meanwhile, is the 4/1 joint-favourite with us to finish the tournament’s top creator after a qualification campaign that brought 11 assists in nine starts.
The Danes will try to prove that England has more bark than bite as the only true competitor for Group D domination. De rød-hvide have climbed to 13th in the world rankings after proving they can contest with the best - even beating both Sweden and Japan earlier in the year.
That said, the big Achilles heel for Lars Sondegaard’s side is consistency. Impressive performances like the ones mentioned above are sandwiched between defeats to higher-level opposition such as France and Spain so it’s a struggle to decide where Denmark fits in this World Cup picture.
Unfortunately, Chile and Haiti remain firmly outside of the Group D picture ahead of this tournament. Both sides are ranked distinctly lower than their group counterparts and they’ll be hoping a vital three points could come when they play one another. They did previously meet back in February, with Haiti coming out as 2-1 winners. History could repeat itself when they meet on matchday two.
Group fixtures: England v Haiti (10:30, 22 July); Denmark v China (13:00, 22 July); England v Denmark (09:30, 28 July); China v Haiti (12:00, 28 July); China v England (12:00, 1 August); Haiti v Denmark (12:00, 1 August).
Group winner plays: Runner-up Group B
Group runner-up plays: Winner Group B
Teams: Netherlands, Portugal, USA, Vietnam
Odds (to win group): USA 3/10; Netherlands 5/2; Portugal 50/1; Vietnam 100/1
Very rarely will you see a repeat of the previous World Cup final in the following tournament’s group stage - but that’s what we have in Group E when the USA and the Netherlands do battle in round two of fixtures in Australia and New Zealand.
The USA came out on top that day to claim back-to-back World Cup wins, and they are favoured to also supersede the Netherlands to top the group here as well. Many of the supporting cast have remained in their roles in the US set-up but there’s a new name at the top in manager Vlatko Andonovski.
Andonovski replaced Jill Ellis as manager of the USWNT and he has already made his presence felt. Four straight SheBelieves Cups, a CONCACAF Women’s Championship, and a bronze medal at the Olympics are already on the Macedonian-American’s resume. Will a World Cup be added to that list? They are currently 5/2 favourites for the whole competition.
America’s team does have a familiar feel to it. Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan bring a wealth of experience and goals to the attacking areas (184 for the national team between them), while Crystal Dunn and Alyssa Naeher bring a veteran presence to the back five; a rearguard which only conceded one goal in an entire calendar year between April 2022 and April 2023.
Netherlands' best hope for breaking down the USA’s defensive barricade will sadly miss the tournament. Vivianne Miedema, who has netted 95 goals for her country, ruptured her ACL in December and won’t be able to take to the field this summer.
Yet what the Netherlands are missing in firepower, they make up for in experience. There’s over 1,500 caps in the 30 players announced for the preliminary squad, including Danielle Van De Donk (139 caps), Sherida Spitse (215), and Lieke Martens (144).
The OranjeLeeuwinnen’s biggest threat comes from the engine room - Jill Roord. The 26-year-old scored seven goals in eight starts during the qualifiers and capped off a potent tenure with Wolfsburg with 31 goals in 69 appearances.
These two powerhouses are joined by a pair of Women’s World Cup debutants: Portugal and Vietnam. The Portuguese are hoping for an improved performance from their Euro 2022 campaign where they picked up a single point while Vietnam will be hoping that goals from Huynh Nhu, who ironically plies her trade in Portugal, will be enough to pose some threat to a loaded Group E.
Group fixtures: USA v Vietnam (02:00, 22 July); Netherlands v Portugal (08:30, 23 July); USA v Netherlands (02:00, 27 July); Portugal v Vietnam (08:30, 27 July); Portugal v USA (08:00, 1 August); Vietnam v Netherlands (08:00, 1 August).
Group winner plays: Runner-up Group G
Group runner-up plays: Winner Group G
Teams: Brazil, France, Jamaica, Panama
Odds (to win group): France 1/2; Brazil 31/20; Jamaica 80/1; Panama 100/1
Group F is laden with football heritage as it boasts France and Brazil, two of the best footballing nations in the world. It also plays host to a pair of CONCACAF upstarts who will be hoping to pull off a shock or two if they are going to advance past the opening stage.
France arrive in Australia in the ascendancy as a quarter-final finish in the last World Cup was followed by a semi-final finish at the European Championship. There’s an aura of expectation surrounding the French that they can go one better and it’ll be a familiar name that would be leading them there.
Herve Renard, the man most famous for masterminding Saudi Arabia to victory over Argentina, is at the reins for Les Bleues after taking the job in March. The French haven’t been beaten since his arrival.
The women who would be guiding Renard’s side to World Cup glory would be captain Wendie Renard (no relation to the coach). A colossus at the back for France, Renard has been a mainstay in the last two tournaments, even netting four goals at 2019’s competition.
She’ll have to keep tabs on legendary Brazilian Marta in this one. Returning for her sixth straight World Cup, the all-time record scorer at the competition (17 goals) is hoping to finish her fabled international career with a winner’s medal. It would be a fairytale ending to her career if she also left with the golden boot award - she’s currently 30/1 in Bet UK’s top scorer market.
The Samba stars have never reached the pinnacle of the women’s game and they have been resigned to underdog status again in 2023. However, with an experienced manager such as Pia Sundhage, who has already yielded a runners-up medal in the past with the USA, the Seleção could prove a valuable price as a possible winner at 25/1 here.
Jamaica and Panama are being viewed as teams “just to make up the numbers” ahead of this tournament due to a formidable group, but they’ll both be hoping to prove doubters wrong when they take to the pitch.
Admittedly, Jamaica didn’t cover themselves in glory during their last World Cup appearance. The Reggae Girlz finished bottom of the group after conceding 12 goals and only netting one.
Group fixtures: France v Jamaica (11:00, 23 July); Brazil v Panama (12:00, 24 July); France v Brazil (11:00, 29 July); Panama v Jamaica (13:30, 29 July); Jamaica v Brazil (11:00, 2 August); Panama v France (11:00, 2 August).
Group winner plays: Runner-up Group H
Group runner-up plays: Winner Group H
Teams: Argentina, Italy, South Africa, Sweden
Odds (to win group): Sweden 1/7; Italy 6/1; Argentina 17/1; South Africa 80/1
One of the toughest groups to call is Group G. Sweden, Italy, and Argentina can provide a case to advancing beyond the group stages, with South Africa ready to pounce should the favourites slip up.
Sweden are currently the consensus choice to sit atop Group G when all is said and done, but they are in desperate need of some consistency. They won just two games between October and April - including losing to Nordic rivals Denmark and experiencing a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of tournament co-hosts Australia.
Any semblance of dependability within the Swedish camp usually comes from Fridolina Rolfo. The versatile 26-year-old is deployed as a forward in the Swedish system, despite her more defensive role at club level, producing 25 goals while wearing the blue and yellow.
Rolfo will have to be at her best to make it past a battle-tested Italy team. Milena Bertolini’s side have harkened back to Italian teams of the past by becoming difficult to beat. This is highlighted by Le Azzure keeping three clean sheets in four games heading into the World Cup.
At the opposite end of the pitch is where Italy encounter problems. They haven’t won a game by two clear goals since September 2022, and they haven’t scored more than two in a game in that timeframe either.
A lack of goalmouth action is extremely low on the worry list of Argentina - for better or worse. Le Albiceleste usually find themselves in games filled with goals; they have had over 1.5 goals a game in eight of the last nine fixtures.
We don’t know whether this ‘boom-or-bust’ style will translate to the World Cup format - they are yet to win a game at the tournament - but they are virtually guaranteed to be a must-watch outfit Down Under regardless.
Group fixtures: Sweden v South Africa (06:00, 23 July); Italy v Argentina (07:00, 24 July); Argentina v South Africa (01:00, 28 July); Sweden v Italy (08:30, 29 July); Argentina v Sweden (08:00, 2 August); South Africa v Italy (08:00, 2 August).
Group winner plays: Runner-up Group E
Group runner-up plays: Winner Group E
Teams: Colombia, Germany, South Korea, Morocco
Odds (to win group): Germany 1/20; Colombia 13/1; South Korea 20/1; Morocco 100/1
After a silver medal at the European Championships in 2022, the Germans are back at the most prestigious tournament in women’s football and they look primed to go all the way for the first time since 2007.
Most hopes of the nation fall on the talented shoulders of Alexandra Popp. The Wolfsburg goal scoring phenom enters the competition after averaging a goal involvement every 67.5 minutes during her Frauen-Bundesliga campaign. This includes 16 goals and five assists in 21 appearances overall. You can back her to be the leading scorer this summer at 15/1 here.
Elsewhere in the German squad, Lena Oberdorf has become a mainstay in the team after her performances at Euro 2022. Fellow youngsters Jule Brand and Klara Buhl are proving to be names to watch, with Brand producing six assists and three goals in five starts during qualifying. Her knack for creativity hasn’t gone unnoticed and she is 15/1 to provide the most assists at this World Cup with us here at BetUK.
With all the talent that Die Nationalelf possess, it’s realistically a three-way shootout for second between Colombia, South Korea, and Morocco.
Colombia are the most well-suited to advance beyond the group stages after an impressive showing at the Copa America in 2022. Nelson Abadia navigated his side all the way to the final, beating Argentina and Chile in the process before falling to a 1-0 defeat to Brazil in the showpiece.
Morocco have displayed they can be defensively astute, drawing 0-0 with Italy and Switzerland earlier this month, but the problems for the Lionesses of Atlas lie with their absence of attacking threat. They have failed to score in the last four games, which includes two defeats to Romania and Czech Republic who didn’t even make it to the World Cup.
Group fixtures: Germany v Morocco (09:30, 24 July); Colombia v South Korea (03:00, 25 July); South Korea v Morocco (05:30, 30 July); Germany v Colombia (10:30, 30 July); Morocco v Colombia (11:00, 3 August); South Korea v Germany (11:00, 3 August).
Group winner plays: Runner-up Group F
Group runner-up plays: Winner Group F