With global gatherings like the ICC Cricket World Cup and the Rugby World Cup raising the bar, 2019’s sporting calendar is packed tighter than a lycra long-jump suit.
But pick of the bunch might be France’s 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup — our preview explains why this is one tournament that will transcend sport.
When and where
The competition kicks off with the opening match on Friday 7th June at Parc des Princes, Paris, with hosts France hoping to get off to a flying start against South Korea.
The rest of the group matches get underway the following day, with 24 top-flight nations playing at nine venues nationwide. Once the groups are settled, the knockout phase starts on 22nd June and the final is slated for 7th July at Stade de Lyon.
Teams to watch
The US team is the most successful in women’s football history, and are currently some bookies’ favourites to add a fourth Women’s World Cup to their creaking trophy cabinet.
They’ve gone 28 matches unbeaten since last losing in 2017, scoring 93 goals in the process and with striker Alex Morgan averaging almost a goal per game.
Germany have already won two Women’s World Cups and might well make it a hattrick in 2019.
On-form striker Lea Schuller doesn’t miss many chances, as evidenced by six goals in their six qualifying matches — but they’ll have to better Spain, South Africa and China to progress.
France will benefit from a 12th man belting out La Marseillaise at every strike and side-step — and on paper, African champions Nigeria are their only serious group rivals.
Eugenie Le Sommer adds class to their attack and a recent 3-1 friendly victory over the US is the perfect pre-tournament confidence boost.
England have a genuine chance of eclipsing their male counterparts’ 2018 World Cup record and actually lifting the trophy.
With forward Fran Kirby possessing Messi-esque skills and a strong squad to support her, coach Gary Neville is confident. The Lionesses play Scotland in a hot-ticket opener on 9th June in Nice before facing highly-fancied Japan and Argentina.
If you’re not au fait with the coaches who might prove world-beaters in 2019, there are a few formidable females.
US coach Jill Ellis originally hails from Hampshire, but moved to America aged 14 and played ball with boys since there were no formal opportunities for females — winning this year would see her flipping that particular script.
Meanwhile, Scotland coach Shelley Kerr is facing her first global finals as manager, having taken the reins in 2017. But after 59 international caps in her playing career and trailblazing experience as the first female manager of a senior British team, she’s calm and composed.
Finally, French coach Corinne Diacre previously coached French men’s side Clermont 2 in Ligue 2 and naturally believes gender is no barrier to leading any team to success. Her tactical nous and quiet determination will work wonders for the hosts.
Whichever team triumphs in France, it’s sure to be a victory for women everywhere — we can’t wait to get the ball rolling.
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