Right now a lot of people are extremely excited about soccer. With the spectacular finale of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, people from all over the globe have been put into a soccer fever. My grandmother was watching soccer, my friends were watching soccer, baseball players, artists, teachers, students, doctors, dentists, everyone was watching soccer. But then it was over. Messi claimed his victory in blazing colors, the world cup was over, and we were all left soccer-less. But all is not lost because I have news for you! In only six months’ time, the world cup will take place. And no, I am not out of my mind. And yes, I do know how to count. On July 20 2023 the women’s world cup will begin!
Before you roll your eyes and say something like “Women’s soccer is just not the same,” please read this article and hopefully I can convince you otherwise. Because while you were watching clips of Ronaldo crying, I was watching some serious women’s soccer. In this article, I am naming the top teams going into the world cup.
- The United States
The United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) is the obvious fan favorite and it probably comes as no surprise that it is top of my list. The team has won a total of four world cups, including the last world cup in 2019. Incorporating both new and old players the USWNT is stronger than ever. They are often best known for their killer attack but in my opinion, they also have a solid defensive line. One thing that makes this team so special is their killer mentality. They want to win and they will do whatever it takes to do that. This mentality has helped them thrive in big tournaments such as the world cup.
Since the last world cup, they have also incorporated many new and young star players. Bringing more originality and strength to the already established team. Some of these players include forwards Catarina Macario and Sophia Smith as well as defenders Naomi Girma and Sofia Huerta. While this makes for a faster and fresher team it also makes the US a little bit more of a wild card going into the World cup.
The USWNT team also contains strong activists who have fought continuously for equal pay. Proving themselves on and off the field they have continuously organized and advocated for their rights to equality. After years of activism, they finally reached equal pay in February 2022. Empowering women and girls around the world. All this goes to say that the USA is stronger than ever and they are ready to bring that trophy home.
Here is the USWNT 2022 year-in-review video highlighting some of their best moments this year:
While England (also known as the Lionesses) have not established themselves in quite the same way as the US, recently they have been a powerhouse, winning the European Championship this year. Beating out other top teams including Sweden, Germany, and France. While they have never won a world cup, this team has been extremely successful this year. Even beating the USWNT team in a 2-1 game last October, led by captain Leah Williamson and head coach Sarina Wiegman. Some key players include forward and England’s Women’s Player of the year Beth Mead as well as the 21-year-old forward and PFA Women’s Young Player of the Year Lauren Hemp. Both players are killer dribbles and top goal scorers. They have always been a relatively competitive team (generally staying in the top 10) but going into the world cup I believe that they can be extremely dominant.
The German women’s soccer team has always been a strong competitor. Winning a grand total of eight European Championships. Not only are they a brilliant team who have accomplished a lot, but they have also overcome great sports gender divides to reach where they are today. Even while winning all of these titles they have received little to no recognition from their country. For example, after winning their first European championship they were given only a tea set. They are one of the only countries (other than the US) that have won multiple World Cup titles, winning back to back in 2003 and 2007 as well as the 2016 Rio Olympics. So unlike some other teams, they do have a history of winning big titles. Some of their star players include defender Giulia Gwinn who won the Best Young Player award at the 2019 World Cup as well as Germany’s 2022 EURO MVP Lena Oberdorf. Going into this world cup they will be a difficult contender and should be on your radar as one of the leading teams.
Netherlands have been the underdogs for many years, but after making it into the 2019 world cup final they have been becoming more and more well known. The Dutch team had little to no recognition coming into the last world cup, but they shocked the soccer world by knocking out top teams and holding their own in the final. Since then they have remained high in the international soccer standings. They have an extremely impressive attacking line, led by arguably one of the best female strikers in the world, Vivianne Miedema. Miedema is an extremely capable and game-changing player. She was the top goal scorer in the Women’s Super League in 2022, 2019, and 2018 and makes a significant impact on the Dutch team. Captained by Sherida Spitse and Coached by Andries Jonker they are going into the world cup ready for gold.
Coming in 5th place is a longtime rival of the USWNT, Sweden. The Swedish team is known to be tactically very strong. They are tall and fast and their defensive line tends to be extremely hard to break down. Largely focused on defense, they sometimes play with five defenders (as opposed to the typical four). Many of their goals start from the defense, while their attacking line is not known for being as prominent. Despite this one of their star players is 27-year-old striker Stina Blackstenius. She is fast, smart, and has a deadly shot, leading Sweden in Olympic goal-scoring with a total of seven goals. Sweden has consistently placed in the top five in the FIFA ranking for the past years. They have placed third in many world cups and made it to the finals in the last Olympics. They also continue to fuel a long-term rivalry with the U.S. after beating them out on occasions during big tournaments. Although recently they have not been looking as strong, losing 4-0 to England last July. Going into the world cup they are ready to beat the US again and aim for their first world cup gold.
I hope that by reading this you have not only learned more about women’s soccer but have gained excitement about the upcoming world cup. There are extreme injustices between women’s and men’s sports. This includes pay for female vs male athletes, coverage time on tv, sports facilities and coaching, sports medicine research, and more. This is extremely unfair but you have the power to change this. By watching Women’s sports you are showing the world that people care about women’s athletics and helping them bridge these gaps. It helps remove the stereotypes that men’s athletics is simply better or that the World Cup always means the Men’s World Cup. These women have worked so incredibly hard, pushing to their limits on and off the field. They are brilliant, they are talented, they are hard-working, and they deserve everything that is coming for them. So next July I encourage you to turn on your TV, find the world cup, and give it a chance. Who knows you might really enjoy it.