Women's World Cup 2023: Who's going to win and who's going to shine? Our pundit predicts
The highly anticipated Women's World Cup 2023 is upon us and fans worldwide are eagerly anticipating a thrilling tournament.
Here our pundit DAVE BARRETT analyses each group, providing detailed insights into the teams and key players and gives his predictions for the group winners. Additionally, he sticks his neck out to name the top goalscorer, young player of the tournament, dark horses and, of course, the ultimate winners.
So, here we go with a look at the groups...
Group A: New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Switzerland
Norway are the obvious favourites after an impressive qualifying campaign, winning all their matches except for one draw.
Currently ranked 12th in the FIFA World Rankings, they boast a strong track record in the World Cup, regularly advancing past the group stage. Their star player, Ada Hegerberg, the first women's Ballon d'Or winner, is a force to be reckoned with, having an impressive goal-scoring record in both the Women's Champions League and for the national team.
Dave's Prediction: Norway, Switzerland, New Zealand, Philippines
Group B: Australia, Canada, Nigeria, Republic of Ireland
Canada enter Group B as the clear favourites, having clinched the gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics and finishing as runners-up in the Women's CONCACAF tournament.
Ranked 7th in the world, Canada are a formidable team with experienced players like Christine Sinclair, who is among the top goalscorers in international women's football. Canada's solid performance in qualifying matches and their tournament experience makes them a strong contender.
Dave's Prediction: Canada, Australia, Republic of Ireland, Nigeria
Group C: Costa Rica, Japan, Spain, Zambia
Spain are the team to watch in Group C. Although they have a limited World Cup history, having only qualified twice in the past, their recent performances and current FIFA World Ranking of 6th indicates significant progress.
Spain had a flawless qualifying campaign, winning all eight matches without conceding a single goal. They possess a well-rounded squad, with the current Ballon d'Or holder, Alexia Putellas, leading the way. Their strong form and improved rankings suggest they have the potential to go far in the tournament.
Dave's Prediction: Spain, Japan, Zambia, Costa Rica
Group D: China, Denmark, England, Haiti
This group is set to be dominated by England, who won the Euro's on home soil and have shown spectacular improvement in recent tournaments. England boasts a talented squad, including Rachel Daly, who is a prolific goal-scorer and also have a very strong defensive unit, as well as a midfield that possesses real depth.
Despite missing some key players due to injuries, including Lea Williamson and Fran Kirby, England's depth and tournament experience makes them strong favourites to win the group.
Dave's Prediction: England, Denmark, China, Haiti
Group E: Netherlands, Portugal, USA, Vietnam
The United States, the reigning champions and the most successful team in Women's World Cup history, are the clear favourites to win Group E. With a squad stacked with talented players such as Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan, the United States remain a formidable force. Their past as well as recent form, which includes winning nine out of their last ten matches, makes them a strong contender for the title.
Dave's Prediction: USA, Netherlands, Portugal, Vietnam
Group F: Brazil, France, Jamaica, Panama
France are the team to beat in this group. After an impressive performance in the Euro's, where they were narrowly defeated by the runners-up Germany, France will be determined to build on these recent successes. Led by the prolific striker Kadidiatou Diani, France possess a lethal attack as well as a solid defensive line.
Dave's Prediction: France, Brazil, Jamaica, Panama
Group G: Argentina, Italy, South Africa, Sweden
Sweden are expected to top Group G, bringing a blend of experience and emerging talent to the tournament. With a strong defensive foundation and a balanced midfield, they pose a formidable challenge to their opponents.
Prediction: Sweden, Italy, Argentina, South Africa
Group H: Colombia, Germany, Korea Republic, Morocco
Germany, historically a dominant force in women's football, enter this competition with the full intention of repeating their former glory. Although their recent World Cup form has been a little underwhelming, they are an opponent that should not be taken lightly.With a blend of technical skill, physicality and a winning mentality, Germany will be aiming to get to the semi-finals at least.
Dave's Prediction: Germany, Korea Republic, Colombia, Morocco
Player of the Tournament
Sophia Smith from the United States is the player who will shine the brightest and claim the Player of the Tournament award. At just 22 years old, Smith has already established herself as a rising star in women's football.
Her performances for her club, the Portland Thorns, have been nothing short of remarkable. In the NWSL, she has showcased her goalscoring prowess by netting an impressive 10 goals and providing five assists in just 13 appearances. Smith has also contributed 13 goals and four assists in her 30 appearances for the US Women's National Team.
With her impressive statistics, technical ability, versatility, and incredible potential, I fully expect Smith to pick up the award.
Rachel Daly is my pick to be the top goalscorer in the tournament. With her exceptional scoring record of 22 goals in 22 appearances, Daly's clinical finishing and attacking prowess make her a dangerous threat for opposing defences. Her ability to find the back of the net consistently will be crucial to England's success in the tournament.
Young Player of the Tournament
Salma Paralluelo of Spain is my choice for the young player of the tournament. At just 19 years old, Paralluelo has already showcased her immense talent at club level with Barcelona, winning the Women's League and Champions League.
Her impressive debut for the national team, where she scored a hat-trick against Argentina, highlights her potential. Paralluelo's skill, pace, and ability to impact games at a young age make her a player to watch in the tournament.
Sweden are my pick to be the dark horses of the tournament. With their consistent performances in recent years, including reaching the semi-finals of the Euros and the final of the Tokyo Olympics, Sweden have proved their ability to compete against top teams. Their blend of experience and emerging talent, combined with their strong defensive structure, makes them a team that can potentially surprise and go further than many believe in this tournament.
Based on their past experience, current form, and exceptional talent, the United States are my prediction to be the 2023 World Cup winners. As the reigning champions and the most successful team in Women's World Cup history, the United States team has the depth, skill, and winning mentality to go all the way and in doing so secure their fifth World Cup title.
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