FIFA Women's World Cup
FIFA Women's World Cup: 10 group stage games to watch
FIFA Women's World Cup

FIFA Women's World Cup: 10 group stage games to watch

Updated Apr. 25, 2023 1:56 p.m. ET

For the first time in history, 32 teams will compete in the Women’s World Cup, making this summer’s tournament the most competitive ever. Countries will be divided into eight groups of four, with the two highest-finishing squads advancing to the 16-team knockout rounds.

The two-time defending champion United States was drawn into Group E, and will face Vietnam, the Netherlands and Portugal. While they have to play the Dutch in a rematch of the 2019 final, this is hardly considered the Group of Death. That honor goes to Group B, which consists of Australia, Ireland, Nigeria and Canada

Group F will also be interesting with top-10 teams France and Brazil playing in the second group match. Winning that group is ultra-important because the runner-up plays the winner of Group H, which will likely be Germany, in the Round of 16.


The World Cup, which will be held across nine different cities in Australia and New Zealand, runs from July 20 through Aug. 20. 

With that in mind, here are 10 of the most intriguing group stage games to watch:


Group A: New Zealand vs. Norway (Eden Park, Auckland)

New Zealand and Norway kick off the tournament in Auckland. Both teams have a good chance of reaching the knockout round, as the other matchups in Group A play will be against the Philippines and Switzerland. When these nations last met in 2022 in Oslo, Ada Hegerberg and Guro Bergsvand scored in a 2-0 win.

Group B: Australia vs. Republic of Ireland (Sydney Football Stadium)

New Zealand might have been lucky in its tournament draw, but co-host Australia was not. The Matildas play in the toughest group, with their first match against a physical Irish team that was impressive in recent friendlies against the United States. Australia, led by captain Sam Kerr, did beat England earlier this month, ending the Lionesses' 30-game unbeaten streak. So that should give off some positive vibes and confidence heading into the summer.

Group B: Nigeria vs. Canada (Melbourne Rectangular)

Canada is dealing with a heated equal pay battle with its federation, but is still considered a favorite to come out of this group. Advancing won’t be easy though as Nigeria has been here before and won’t be a pushover.


Group E: United States vs. Vietnam (Eden Park, Auckland)

The pursuit for the historic three-peat begins. The U.S. women’s national team is looking to become the first nation ever to win three consecutive World Cups and the first step to accomplishing such a feat is winning Game 1 against Vietnam, a country making its tournament debut.


Group E: United States vs. Netherlands (Sky Stadium, Wellington)

It’s not often teams who played in the previous World Cup final matchup in the group stage four years later, but that’s where these nations find themselves. The USWNT and Netherlands are both expected to advance to the knockout round from Group E, but the Americans would much rather play their Round of 16 match in Sydney, because that would mean they finished first in the group.


Group F: France vs. Brazil (Lang Park, Brisbane)

Both of these teams should advance from Group F. But similarly to USA-Netherlands, this is a matchup between giants. It will also be a good measuring stick to see how far France can go under new manager Hervé Renard, who most recently coached the Saudi Arabian men’s team in Qatar last year.


Group H: Germany vs. Colombia (Sydney Football Stadium)

Germany is expected to make a run this summer after finishing as runners-up in last year’s Euros. The Germans are ranked No. 2 in the world behind the U.S. and should they win Group H, a Round of 16 matchup against the runner-up of Group F, likely France or Brazil, looms. Meanwhile, Colombia is playing in the World Cup for the first time since 2015 after failing to qualify four years ago.


Group C: Japan vs. Spain (Sky Stadium, Wellington)

Will two-time Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas play in this summer’s World Cup? The Barcelona midfielder missed last summer’s Euros with a torn ACL and has yet to play for her club this season — though her return could come as soon as this week in a Champions League match against Chelsea at Camp Nou. How would a Spanish side without Putellas — and potentially other top players who refuse to play for coach Jorge Vilda — fare against an organized and feisty Japanese side?

Group B: Canada vs. Australia (Lang Park, Brisbane)

Probably the match that will decide the Group B winner. Unfortunately for Canada, this squad will be not-so-fresh off a long trip from Perth on the west coast of Australia and could have some tired legs for this final group stage faceoff. 


Group D: China vs. England (Hindmarsh, Adelaide)

England recently lost captain Leah Williamson when she tore her ACL playing for Arsenal. While her absence this summer is a huge blow, it shouldn’t derail the Lionesses' plans of playing for a World Cup title.

Laken Litman covers college football, college basketball and soccer for FOX Sports. She previously wrote for Sports Illustrated, USA Today and The Indianapolis Star. She is the author of "Strong Like a Woman," published in spring 2022 to mark the 50th anniversary of Title IX. Follow her on Twitter @LakenLitman.


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