USWNT, England & the top 10 favourites for Women's World Cup 2019

Comments()
Getty/Goal
From holders USA to hosts France, Goal ranks the contenders for this summer's big event

  1. Getty

    #10 Brazil

    In what is Marta's last chance at World Cup glory, Brazil could not be more poorly prepared. After sacking the team's first female coach, Emily Lima, for a string of poor results, they head into the summer having lost their last nine games in succession under returning coach Vadao.

    The 62-year-old has favoured a 4-2-4 formation in order to accommodate his plethora of attacking talent, but that often leaves the team at a disadvantage, with players regularly playing out of position.

    Performances have been as poor as the results, particularly given the calibre of this squad. Marta will need to be at her very best if she wants to inspire this ageing team to glory and upgrade her 2007 silver medal to a gold in 2019 - but, even then, that might not be enough.

    COACH: Vadao

    STAR PLAYER: Marta

    SQUAD IN FULL

    Goalkeepers: Aline (Tenerife), Barbara (Kindermann), Leticia (Corinthians)

    Defenders: Fabiana (Internacional), Leticia Santos (Sand), Tamires (Fortuna Hjorring), Erika (Corinthians), Monica (Corinthians), Kathellen (Bordeaux), Tayla (Benfica).

    Midfielders: Andressinha (Portland), Formiga (Paris Saint-Germain), Luana (Jeonbuk), Thaisa (Milan), Camila (Orlando Pride), Andressa Alves (Barcelona).

    Forwards: Beatriz (Incheon Steel Red Angels), Cristiane (Sao Paulo), Raquel (Huelva), Debinha (North Carolina Courage), Geyse (Benfica), Ludmila (Atletico Madrid), Marta (Orlando Pride).

  2. Getty

    #9 Sweden

    Sweden's transformation from a defensive, uninspiring unit to a free-flowing attacking team has been one of the most exciting developments in international football, with Peter Gerhardsson implementing his high-pressing, possession-based game to great effect.

    As well as maintaining the experience of stalwarts such as defender Nilla Fischer and midfielder Caroline Seger, the team can boast exciting young talent such as Stina Blackstenius and a Kosovare Asllani back to her best after a difficult few years.

    Their tactical flexibility increases their threat going forward, a threat led by the goal-scoring ways of Blackstenius, who already has four goals in seven appearances for Linkoping in 2019. After years of standing still under Pia Sundhage, they can surprise the continent this summer.

    COACH: Peter Gerhardsson

    STAR PLAYER: Stina Blackstenius

    SQUAD IN FULL

    Goalkeepers: Jennifer Falk (Kopparbergs/Goteborg FC), Hedvig Lindahl (Chelsea), Zecira Musovic (Rosengard)

    Defenders: Jonna Andersson (Chelsea), Nathalie Bjorn (FC Rosengard), Magdalena Eriksson (Chelsea), Nilla Fischer (Vfl Wolfsburg e.V.), Hanna Glas (Paris Saint-Germain), Amanda Ilestedt (Turbine Potsdam), Linda Sembrant (Montpellier).

    Midfielders: Anna Anvegard (Vaxjo DFF), Kosovare Asllani (Linkopings), Lina Hurtig (Linkopings), Julia Roddar (Kopparbergs/Goteborg), Elin Rubensson (Kopparbergs/Göteborg), Caroline Seger (Rosengard).

    Forwards: Stina Blackstenius (Linkopings), Sofia Jakobsson (Montpellier), Madelen Janogy (Pitea), Mimmi Larsson (Linkopings), Fridolina Rolfo (Bayern Munich), Olivia Schough (Djurgardens), Julia Zigiotti Olme (Kopparbergs/Goteborg)

  3. Getty

    #8 Canada

    Canada's preparation for this summer's World Cup has been successful if unspectacular, with five wins coming from an unbeaten run of eight in 2019, and just one goal conceded. Yet, this is one of the most exciting squads heading to France - with 14 of their 23 players 24 years old or younger.

    That youthful exuberance is complemented by a sprinkling of veterans who make up the spine of this team: Stephanie Labbe in between the sticks, Sophie Schmidt in the back three, Desiree Scott protecting that trio and Christine Sinclair leading the line.

    This promises to be an incredible tournament for the latter in particular, who is just three goals behind Abby Wambach's world record of 184. With four scored in 2019 already, it seems inevitable that the clinical forward, who turns 36 during the tournament, will finally overtake the former USA striker this summer.

    COACH: Kenneth Heiner-Moller

    STAR PLAYER: Christine Sinclair

    SQUAD IN FULL

    Goalkeepers: Stephanie Labbe (Courage), Kailen Sheridan (Sky Blue), Sabrina D'Angelo (Vittsjo).

    Defenders: Allysha Chapman (Houston Dash), Kadeisha Buchanan (Lyon), Shelina Zadorsky (Orlando Pride), Rebecca Quinn (Paris), Shannon Woeller (Eskilstuna United), Lindsay Agnew (Houston Dash), Jenna Hellstrom (Orebro).

    Midfielders: Deanne Rose (Florida Gators), Julia Grosso (University of Texas), Ashley Lawrence (Paris Saint-Germain), Desiree Scott (Utah Royals), Sophie Schmidt (Houston Dash), Jessie Fleming (UCLA).

    Forwards: Jayde Riviere (Vancouver Whitecaps), Jordyn Huitema (PSG), Christine Sinclair (Portland Thorns), Gabrielle Carle (Florida State University), Nichelle Prince (Houston Dash), Janine Beckie (Man City), Adriana Leon (West Ham).

  4. Getty

    #7 Japan

    Winners in 2011 and finalists in 2015, Japan go into this summer's tournament almost unrecognisable from those two sides due to mass retirements, but with a new generation of young talent coming through and a handful of veterans remaining, that's not a bad thing.

    Rumi Utsugi and Saki Kumagai bring invaluable top level experience to Asako Takakura's youthful squad, which features just three players over 30 and only six names from the last World Cup, while forward Jun Endo and midfielder Narumi Miura lead the new faces.

    It's hard to single out individuals in this incredible team, who retain the technically excellent standards and free-flowing possession-based game of those before them. But former Bayern Munich forward Mana Iwabuchi, named MVP as Japan won the 2018 Asian Cup, has been in stellar form for her country and will be key if they are to continue their fantastic recent World Cup record.

    COACH: Asako Takakura

    STAR PLAYER: Mana Iwabuchi

    SQUAD IN FULL

    Goalkeepers: Sakiko Ikeda (Urawa Red Diamonds), Ayaka Yamashita (NTV Beleza), Chika Hirao (Albirex Nilgata Ladies).

    Defenders: Rumi Utsugi (Reign), Aya Sameshima (Kobe Leonessa), Saki Kumagai (Lyon), Nana Ichise (Vegalta Sendai), Moeka Minami (Urawa Red Diamonds), Asato Miyagawa (NTV Beleza), Shiori Miyake (Kobe Leonessa).

    Midfielders: Hina Sugita (Kobe Leonessa), Emi Nakajima (Kobe Leonessa), Mizuho Sakaguchi (NTV Beleza), Riko Ueki (NTV Beleza), Yui Hasegawa (NTV Beleza), Yuka Momiki (NTV Beleza), Narumi Miura (NTV Beleza), Jun Endo (NTV Beleza), Risa Shimizu (NTV Beleza).

    Forwards: Mana Iwabuchi (Kobe Leonessa), Yuika Sugasawa (Urawa Red Diamonds), Rikako Kobayashi (NTV Beleza), Kumi Yokoyama (Nagano Parceiro).

  5. Getty

    #6 Australia

    Following the surprising and controversial dismissal of Alen StajcicAustralia will be looking to put a messy start to 2019 behind them as they head out to France aiming to make good on all the promise in their young squad.

    The Matildas, led by interim coach Ante Milicic, are encouraged by being on a very open side of the World Cup draw and in a group where their biggest challenge is a struggling Brazil side - who they got the better of four years ago in the last 16, as well as in four friendlies since.

    Sam Kerr, named Goal 50's Women's Player of the Year in November, is the undoubted star player of this attacking unit, whose high-pressing and positive style suits the speedy goal-scorer to a tee. Dubbed 'the female Tim Cahill' by Milicic, the clinical forward has six goals in six NWSL games for Chicago Red Stars in 2019 - as well as four in five for Australia.

    COACH: Ante Milicic

    STAR PLAYER: Sam Kerr

    SQUAD IN FULL

    Goalkeepers: Mackenzie Arnold (Brisbane Roar), Teagan Micha (UCLA), Lydia Williams (Seattle Reign).

    Defenders: Teigen Allen (Melbourne Victory), Laura Alleway (Melbourne Victory), Ellie Carpenter (Portland Thorns), Steph Catley (Seattle Reign), Alanna Kennedy (Orlando Pride), Clare Polkinghorne (Houston Dash), Gema Simon (Newcastle Jets).

    Midfielders: Katrina Gorry (Brisbane Roar), Amy Harrison (Sydney FC), Elise Kellond-Knight (Seattle Reign), Chloe Logarzo (Washington Spirit), Aivi Luik (Levante), Emily van Egmond (Orlando Pride), Tameka Yallop (Klepp IL)

    Forwards: Lisa De Vanna (Sydney FC), Caitlin Foord (Portland Thorns), Mary Fowler (Bankstown City Lions), Emily Gielnik (Melbourne Victory), Sam Kerr (Chicago Red Stars), Hayley Raso (Portland Thorns)

  6. Getty

    #5 Netherlands

    If the Netherlands don't have the best front three in international football, then it's at least on par with the USA's. Spearheaded by Arsenal goal-machine Vivianne Miedema, with Champions League finalists either side in Shanice van de Sanden, a winner with Lyon, and Lieke Martens, runner-up with Barcelona, they are a side to be feared this summer.

    Despite winning the Euros in 2017, Sarina Wiegman-Glotzbach's side still go into the tournament as underdogs, having needed play-offs to get to France after Norway won their qualification group. But they eased past Denmark and Switzerland and, like Australia, are boosted by the openness of their side of the World Cup draw.

    Though they're a team that play exciting, attacking football, the Netherlands also have a sturdy defence; conceding just four goals in their 12 qualifying games. The surprise element may be gone after their triumph two years ago, but that won't make them any easier to stop.

    COACH: Sarina Wiegman-Glotzbach

    STAR PLAYER: Vivianne Miedema

    SQUAD IN FULL

    Goalkeepers: Loes Geurts (Kopparbergs/Goteborg), Lize Kop (Ajax), Sari van Veenendaal (Arsenal).

    Defenders: Dominique Bloodworth (Arsenal), Anouk Dekker (Montpellier), Danique Kerkdijk (Bristol City), Stefanie van der Gragt (Barcelona), Liza van der Most (Ajax), Merel van Dongen (Real Betis), Kika van Es (Ajax), Desiree van Lunteren (Freiburg).

    Midfielders: Jackie Groenen (Frankfurt), Inessa Kaagman (Everton), Victoria Pelova (ADO Den Haag), Jill Roord (Bayern Munich), Sherida Spitse (Valerenga), Danielle van de Donk (Arsenal).

    Forwards: Lineth Beerensteyn (Bayern Munich), Ellen Jansen (Ajax), Renate Jansen (Twente), Lieke Martens (Barcelona), Vivianne Miedema (Arsenal), Shanice van de Sanden (Lyon).

  7. Getty

    #4 England

    Since Phil Neville surprisingly took over, England have transformed from a team pushing the world's best to simply being one of the world's best. If the new-found swagger in their play wasn't evidence enough, their SheBelieves Cup triumph in March certainly was, with victories over Brazil and Japan sandwiching a draw with the USA - which could have, and should have, been another win.

    The emergence of young stars to suit Neville's style has only enhanced the Lionesses' powers, with Man City pair Keira Walsh and Georgia Stanway making a great impact, while places at the biggest club in the world, Lyon, for Lucy Bronze and, more recently, Nikita Parris, show the quality he inherited from the start.

    Parris didn't make her debut until after England placed third at the last World Cup, but she is at the peak of her powers for this one. The all-time FAWSL top-scorer scored 19 times in as many league games this term and will be one of the deadliest forwards on show in France.

    COACH: Phil Neville

    STAR PLAYER: Nikita Parris

    SQUAD IN FULL

    Goalkeepers: Karen Bardsley (Man City), Mary Earps (Wolfsburg), Carly Telford (Chelsea)

    Defenders: Millie Bright (Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (Lyon), Rachel Daly (Houston Dash), Alex Greenwood (Man Utd), Steph Houghton (captain, Man City), Abbie McManus (Man Utd), Demi Stokes (Man City) Leah Williamson (Arsenal)

    Midfielders: Karen Carney (Chelsea), Jade Moore (Reading), Jill Scott (Man City), Lucy Staniforth (Birmingham City), Georgia Stanway (Man City), Keira Walsh (Man City)

    Forwards: Toni Duggan (Barcelona) Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Beth Mead (Arsenal), Nikita Parris (Lyon), Jodie Taylor (Seattle Reign), Ellen White (Man City)

  8. Getty

    #3 Germany

    In typically German style, Martina Voss-Tecklenburg's side have been quietly going about their business in the build-up to this tournament, with many forgetting just how dangerous they are - and will be.

    Oozing talent and a winning mentality from front to back, any questions about their new coach, only appointed in November, and her ability to get to grips with the team in time for the tournament were answered with wins over France and Sweden earlier this year.

    Voss-Tecklenburg's high-pressing style has been implemented effectively, while her encouragement of creativity and individuality brings out the best of playmaker Dzsenifer Marozsan. The Lyon star, named in the FIFPRO XI in both 2017 and 2018, will be key if Germany are to navigate a route to the final that includes many banana skins.

    COACH: Martina Voss-Tecklenburg

    STAR PLAYER: Dzsenifer Marozsan

    SQUAD IN FULL

    Goalkeepers: Laura Benkarth (Bayern Munich), Merle Frohms (Freiburg), Almuth Schult (Wolfsburg).

    Defenders: Sara Doorsoun (Wolfsburg), Johanna Elsig (Turbine Potsdam), Lena Goessling (Wolfsburg), Giulia Gwinn (Freiburg), Marina Hegering (SGS Essen), Kathrin Hendrich (Bayern Munich), Leonie Maier (Bayern Munich), Carolin Simon (Lyon), Verena Schweers (Bayern Munich).

    Midfielders: Sara Daebritz (Bayern Munich), Linda Dallmann (SGS Essen), Svenja Huth (Turbine Potsdam), Turid Knaak (SGS Essen), Melanie Leupolz (Bayern Munich), Dzsenifer Marozsan (Lyon), Lena Oberdorf (SGS Essen), Lina Magull (Bayern Munich).

    Forwards: Klara Buehl (Freiburg), Alexandra Popp (Wolfsburg), Lea Schueller (SGS Essen).

  9. Getty

    #2 France

    It says a lot about the quality of this France squad that Corinne Diacre has left this season's Division 1 Feminine top-scorer, Marie-Antoinette Katoto, out. Valerie Gauvin is tasked with making sure Diacre doesn't regret that decision, and she has started the year well with five goals in six games, while the experience and class of Eugenie Le Sommer out wide provides her the world-class support that strikers dream of.

    Le Sommer bagged 13 goals in 18 league games as Lyon once again won the title, but she showed why she is known as a big game player with six goals in eight Champions League games as her side also claimed a third successive continental crown.

    Diacre, who became the first woman to coach a professional men's team in France during her three years at Ligue 2 club Clermont Foot, has experience that defies her 44 years of age and she will need to use of all that, plus the team's home advantage, if Les Bleues are to navigate a likely quarter-final against the reigning champions, the USA.

    COACH: Corinne Diacre

    STAR PLAYER: Eugenie Le Sommer

    SQUAD IN FULL

    Goalkeepers: Sarah Bouhaddi (Lyon), Solene Durand (Guingamp), Pauline Peyraud-Magnin (Arsenal).

    Defenders: Julie Debever (Guingamp), Sakina Karchaoui (Montpellier), Amel Majri (Lyon), Griedge Mbock Bathy (Lyon), Eve Perisset (Paris Saint-Germain), Wendie Renard (Lyon), Marion Torrent (Montpellier), Aissatou Tounkara (Atletico Madrid).

    Midfielders: Charlotte Bilbault (Paris FC), Elise Bussaglia (Dijon), Maeva Clemaron (Fluery), Grace Geyoro (Paris Saint-Germain), Amandine Henry (Lyon), Gaetane Thiney (Paris FC).

    Forwards: Viviane Asseyi (Bordeaux), Delphine Cascarino (Lyon), Kadidiatou Diani (Paris Saint-Germain), Valerie Gauvin (Montpellier), Emelyne Laurent (Guingamp), Eugenie Le Sommer (Lyon).

  10. Getty

    #1 USA

    No nation has ever won back-to-back Women's World Cup titles, but Jill Ellis' side have an incredible chance to make history this summer. Despite a number of high profile retirements and the reduced role of Carli Lloyd, who became the first woman to score a World Cup final hat-trick four years ago, this team only look better, which is extremely frightening.

    However, creating history will be no easy task, with knockout clashes against both France and England likely to come before the final. The experience of players such as Becky Sauberbrunn, Alex Morgan and Tobin Heath will be crucial in those moments, while contributions from likely substitute Mallory Pugh, still just 21 years old, could be as well.

    Megan Rapinoe combines both Heath's trickery and Morgan's goal-scoring to form a deadly threat out wide; direct, positive and, despite turning 34 before the tournament's final, pacy. As lethal one-on-one as she is from range, Rapinoe is one for the big games too, with goals against Australia, England and Japan already in 2019.

    COACH: Jill Ellis

    STAR PLAYER: Megan Rapinoe

    SQUAD IN FULL

    Goalkeepers: Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns FC), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)

    Defenders: Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (NC Courage), Ali Krieger (Orlando Pride), Kelley O'Hara (Utah Royals FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals FC), Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC)

    Midfielders: Morgan Brian (Chicago Red Stars), Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit), Allie Long (Reign FC), Samantha Mewis (NC Courage)

    Forwards: Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC), Jessica McDonald (NC Courage), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Utah Royals FC), Mallory Pugh (Washington Spirit), Megan Rapinoe (Reign FC)