Updated: Oct 24
Early Saturday morning in Auckland, New Zealand, reigning champions, the United States, found out its World Cup opponents for next summer's 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, which will be played in Australia and New Zealand, running from July 20-Aug. 20.
The U.S., the top seed in the newly-expanded 32-team field, was put into Group E. There were eight groups of four teams and the top two teams will advance to the knockout stage.
They also found out two of their opponents: Vietnam, the 34th-best team in the world, and the eighth-best team, the Netherlands — a rematch of the 2019 World Cup Final in France. Group E will be rounded out by a playoff winner between Thailand, Portugal or Cameroon. The final three playoff teams will play a 10-team tournament in February in New Zealand to decide the final spots.
Is there a group of death?
Not quite. But there are groups that could provide some upsets and create a bit of chaos which is the perfect recipe for the largest global event in all of soccer.
Group B stands out as a bit unpredictable with tournament hosts Australia, Olympic winners Canada, debutants Ireland, and the always-talented ever-present Nigeria. Will Australia fold under pressure? Could Canada fade? Can Nigeria win the group with a steady attack?
A potential group of death could be Group D, with Euro 2022 champions England, alongside Denmark and AFC women's Asian Cup Champions China, and either team could steal points from the other. An additional nation of either Chile, Senegal, or Haiti will join the group as the fourth team. If Haiti wins their inter-confederation playoff, they are a team that could tire out a more experienced side.
The group of chaos could be Group F with France, Jamaica, and Brazil, and the winner between Chinese Taipei, Paraguay, Panama, or Papua New Guinea. France and Brazil provided a memorable round of 16 match in the 2019 World Cup when France defeated Brazil 2-1 and Brazilian legend Marta gave a passionate plea in what many perceived to be her final World Cup.
Blast of the Whistle
The opening match for the 2023 World Cup will kick off on July 20 and feature tournament hosts New Zealand against Norway at Eden Park in Auckland. Co-hosts Australia will meet Ireland at Sydney Football Stadium in Sydney on the same day.