The much anticipated ninth FIFA Women’s World Cup is almost upon us.
The tournament, which kicks off on July 20, will debut an expanded 32-team format – resulting in a full month of top-flight international football.
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Here’s what you need to know:
Who are the hosts?
The Women’s World Cup will take place in two countries: Australia and New Zealand.
Matches will be held at 10 stadiums in nine cities across these two nations.
Only Sydney will offer two venues, the Sydney Football Stadium and Stadium Australia (which will also host the final).
Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth will host the remaining fixtures in Australia. In New Zealand, matches will be played in Auckland, Wellington, Dunedin, and Hamilton.
Which teams have qualified?
Australia, China, Japan, Philippines, South Korea and Vietnam qualified from the AFC (Asia).Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, and Zambia qualified from CAF (Africa).Canada, Costa Rica, Haiti, Jamaica, Panama and the USA qualified from CONCACAF (North and Central America and the Caribbean).Argentina, Brazil, and Colombia qualified from CONMEBOL (South America).New Zealand qualified from the OFC (Oceania).Denmark, England, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland qualified from UEFA (Europe).
When are the opening fixtures?
The first two games of the tournament are New Zealand vs Norway at Eden Park in Auckland and Australia vs Republic of Ireland at Stadium Australia in Sydney. Both will be played on July 20.
The group stage will conclude two weeks later, on August 3.
What are the groups?
There are a number of exciting pair-ups in the group. In a repeat of the 2019 final, four-time winners USA take on the Netherlands, who are currently ranked ninth in the world.
France vs Brazil is also a highly anticipated match, with the former ranked fifth in the world and the latter reigning South American champions.
How does the group stage work?
On the opening day, both the hosts will play their respective opening matches.
From then on, there will be a veritable daily feast of football, with three or four fixtures every day until August 3.
The top two teams will progress to the round of 16, with the top team of each group playing a second-placed team of another.
The bottom two teams in each group will be eliminated from the tournament.
How does the knockout stage work?
There will be a single rest day on August 4 before the last-16 fixtures commence, ending on August 20.
This is how the last 16 will look:
Group A winners vs Group C runners-upGroup B winners vs Group D runners-upGroup C winners vs Group A runners-upGroup D winners vs Group B runners-upGroup E winners vs Group G runners-upGroup F winners vs Group H runners-upGroup G winners vs Group E runners-upGroup H winners vs Group F runners-up
Who are the past winners?
The USA are by far the most successful team, having won the tournament four times – including in 2019.
Germany have won it twice, in 2007 and 2011, while Norway and Japan have both won once.
Who are the favourites?
Reigning champions, the USA are clear favourites and are currently ranked first in the world.
Current European champions, England, are also tipped to go far in this tournament. However, they have suffered a number of injuries to key players, with striker Beth Mead, midfielder Fran Kirby and captain Leah Williamson all ruled out.
Germany are also a strong team and currently ranked second in the world, but a recent 2-1 loss to Brazil will have tempered expectations.
How much is the prize money?
FIFA President Gianni Infantino announced at the FIFA Congress that the 2023 Women’s World Cup prize money pool will be $110m, up from $30m in the last edition.
However, this remains much lower than the $440m awarded at the men’s 2022 World Cup.
Where can I watch the games?
Global listings are available from livesoccertv.com.
Source: Al Jazeera