Following are the eight groups for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, which will be held in Australia and New Zealand from July 20 to August 20:
WHAT IS THE FORMAT FOR THE GROUP AND KNOCKOUT STAGES AT WORLD CUP 2023?
* The tournament opens with the group stage where each of the 32 teams play three matches. The field has been expanded from 24 teams after the 2019 World Cup in France.
* Teams get three points for a win and one for a draw. The top two teams in each group advance to the round of 16.
* The knockout rounds will feature one-off matches, which can go to extra time and then a shootout to decide the winner.
GROUP A: NEW ZEALAND (CO-HOSTS), NORWAY, PHILIPPINES, SWITZERLAND
Norway will be a force to be reckoned with following the return of Ada Hegerberg and along with Switzerland will be favourites to advance, but New Zealand will be eyeing the opportunity to reach the knockout rounds for the first time.
Debutants Philippines, who are led by former Matildas coach Alen Stajcic, have little chance of progressing.
GROUP B: AUSTRALIA (CO-HOSTS), IRELAND, NIGERIA, CANADA
Australia will be determined to prove themselves on the world stage in front of home support and head into the tournament with only one loss so far this year.
Olympic champions Canada and World Cup ever-presents Nigeria make it a tricky group for debutants Ireland but recent performances have shown they are not to be dismissed.
GROUP C: SPAIN, COSTA RICA, ZAMBIA, JAPAN
Spain head to the World Cup with a vastly different squad to the one that secured qualification after their preparations were hampered by a feud between the coach and many senior players.
Japan, winners in 2011 and runners-up in 2015, will look to make a deeper run than four years ago when they lost in the last 16. Zambia are making their first appearance and Costa Rica their second.
GROUP D: ENGLAND, HAITI, DENMARK, CHINA
England’s momentum suffered a blow when a loss to Australia ended their 30-game unbeaten run but the European champions will still be one of the favourites for the trophy despite the absence of key players including Beth Mead and Leah Williamson due to injury.
Pernille Harder will be key to Denmark’s hopes as they return to the world stage for the first time since 2007, while China will try to build on their Asian Cup success. Haiti are making their first World Cup appearance.
GROUP E: UNITED STATES, VIETNAM, NETHERLANDS, PORTUGAL
The United States are firm favourites but recent losses to England, Germany and Spain suggest the path towards a third straight title will not be straightforward.
Netherlands will be keen exact revenge on the US on the big stage after defeat in the 2019 final. Debutants Vietnam and Portugal round out the group.
GROUP F: FRANCE, JAMAICA, BRAZIL, PANAMA
France’s off-field issues are a thing of the past after Herve Renard replaced Corrine Diacre as coach. Diacre’s position became untenable after captain Wendie Renard said she would not play at the World Cup if the coach remained in charge.
Brazil, whose best performance at the World Cup came in 2007 when they finished runners-up, could be dark horses this time around under experienced coach Pia Sundhage. Jamaica lost all three games in their World Cup debut four years ago but are a more experienced outfit this year.
First-timers Panama complete the group.
GROUP G: SWEDEN, SOUTH AFRICA, ITALY, ARGENTINA
Sweden have been one of the heavyweights of the women’s game and it will be a surprise if they do not advance to the latter knockout stages, having reached the semifinals of the 2019 World Cup and last year’s Euros.
South Africa have struggled since winning the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations and Italy have also lost their way since an impressive 2019 World Cup campaign.
Argentina arrive in promising form having won four of their five friendlies this year.
GROUP H: GERMANY, MOROCCO, COLOMBIA, SOUTH KOREA
Euros runners-up Germany have lost to the United States and Brazil in recent friendlies but the former champions are expected to top the group.
Asian Cup finalists South Korea could present Germany’s biggest challenge, although they have only qualified from the group stage once (2015) in their three World Cup appearances.
Copa America runners-up Colombia arrive in patchy form, having lost to France and Italy in friendlies in April, while Morocco, who reached the Africa Cup of Nations final, will make their debut after becoming the first Arab nation to qualify for the tournament.