Women's World Cup 2019: Five teams to watch out for

From United States to Japan, which are the teams to keep an eye on at the Women's World Cup starting in France?

Twenty-four teams will contest for the biggest honours from June 7 as the Women's World Cup kicks off in France. The football extravaganza will last for a month, with the final scheduled for July 7.

United States is the most successful team with three trophies — 1991, 1999 and 2015 — to its name. Germany is a two-time winner with success in 2003 and 2007. Norway and Japan have won once each, in 1995 and 2011 respectively.

United States

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United States midfielder Carli Lloyd during the second half of the International Friendly match between the US and Mexico.   -  Getty Images

 

Three-time world champion United States will be expected to go deep in the 2019 edition of the tournament. As the defending champion, much will be expected from Jill Ellis' team.

However, even though United States lifted the World Cup in Canada in 2015, the following year it was handed an early exit at the Summer Olympics - being knocked out in the quarterfinal by Sweden in a penalty shootout.

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The presence of experienced players like Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd will help the team in its quest for a fourth title, but the 11 World Cup first-timers will be expected to handle the pressure too. Also, with star player Hope Solo not being part of the team for the first time since 1999, Alyssa Naeher must shoulder a lot more responsibility too.

United States has been drawn in Group F, alongside familiar foe Sweden, Thailand and Chile. It will expect to top its group.

England

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England line up before the international friendly against New Zealand Women at Amex Stadium.   -  Getty Images

 

Although England has never won the World Cup, The Lionesses enter the tournament as one of the favourites following its triumph at the SheBelieves Cup, where it defeated the mighty United States in the final.

Across World Cup editions, England has reached the quarterfinal on three occasions - 1995, 2007 and 2011. Its best feat in a World Cup, however, remains a third-place finish in Canada in 2015.

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Under Phil Neville, the team has shifted to possession-based football and seems technically stronger. The defence looks solid, bolstered by the presence of Steph Houghton, Millie Bright and Lucy Bronze, but Neville might have to iron out issues up front in terms of his attacking options, with the services of Fran Kirby, Nikita Parris, Toni Duggan, Beth Mead, Ellen White and others at his disposal.

Grouped alongside Scotland, Japan and Argentina - England is expected to progress from the group stage.

Germany

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Germany poses for a team photo before facing Chile in an international friendly.   -  Getty Images

 

Ranked second in the FIFA rankings, Germany is a two-time world champion. Die Nationalelf  won the gold medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil, but a year later, it was knocked out of the Euros in the quarterfinal by Sweden. In 2018, things got worse as Germany finished last at the SheBelieves Cup, failing to win a single match.

A change in managerial position after its 2019 World Cup qualification means coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg hasn't had enough time with the team, with the German joining only in mid-November last year.

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It's difficult to preempt Voss-Tecklenburg's tactics, but the presence of Alexandra Popp and Dzsenifer Marozsán in attack, Almuth Schult between the sticks, and promising youngsters Giulia Gwinn, Sara Däbritz, Lea Schüller and Lina Magull should help the coach get the best out of the team.

A team with the right mix of youth and veterans, Germany has the potential to beat Spain, South Africa and China in Group B.

France

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Kadidiatou Diani her goal during the friendly match against China.   -  Getty Images

 

France has failed to taste glory at any major tournament with its best performance in the World Cup being a fourth-place finish in 2011. Les Blues also failed to make a mark in the 2016 Olympics as it crashed out in the quarterfinal. Its best was a fourth-place finish in the London Olympics.

This pattern of results is a cause for concern because most of France's squad is made up of players from Lyon, one of the best clubs in women's football.

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However, the team for the upcoming World Cup seems well-balanced with coach Corrine Diacre having Eugénie Le Sommer, Valérie Gauvin, Kadi Diani, Delphine Cascarino and Gaëtane Thiney to choose from as attacking options, while defensive duties would be taken care of by Wendie Renard and Griedge Mbock.

France - clubbed with Norway, Nigeria and Korea Republic in Group A - would look to better its past results after progressing from its group this year.

Japan

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Japan women's football team training in Le Touquet, France.   -  Getty Images

 

World champion in 2011 and runner-up in the next edition in 2015, Japan is the Asian powerhouse of the tournament. Japan is also the only nation to have tasted World Cup glory at the senior, U-20 and U-17 levels.

It failed to qualify for the 2016 Olympics but was crowned runners-up in London in the previous edition.

The introduction of youngster Moeka Minami, Yui Hasegawa, Hina Sugita and Rikako Kobayashi should add spark to its current team, which includes players from the 2011 generation.

Placed in Group D with England, Scotland and Argentina, Japan faces a fight to top its group.

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