Featuring two European teams (including a former world champ) and one of the two host nations, Group A figures to be one among the more hotly-contested quartets Down Under.
Here’s a look at all four teams:
Coach: Jitka Klimková
Highest finish: Group stage
2019 finish: Group stage
Key players: Betsy Hassett, Ali Riley, Hannah Wilkinson
What we’re excited to watch: Playing on home soil, the Football Ferns will enjoy raucous support in each of their three group games.
What success looks like: New Zealand has never advanced to the knockout stage or even won a World Cup game in five previous tournament appearances. They have a great chance to accomplish both this summer.
Achilles’ heel: Scoring. While striker Wilkinson has 28 international goals to her name, it’s more than half the total of the rest of the squad combined.
X-Factor: Home cooking. Will the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play in front of their own fans help the Football Ferns to reach new heights?
2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup: New Zealand Team Preview with Alexi Lalas
Coach: Hege Riise
Highest finish: Champions (1995)
2019 finish: Quarterfinals
Key players: Caroline Graham Hansen, Ada Hegerberg, Maren Mjelde
What we’re excited to watch: Hegerberg, who as the reigning Ballon d’Or winner sat out the 2019 World Cup in protest because of a dispute with Norway’s football federation.
What success looks like: Semis. Norway reached the championship match at the first two Women’s World Cups but hasn’t made the final four since 2007.
Achilles’ heel: Knockout games. The Norwegians failed to win one at either of the last two World Cups (they needed penalties to eliminate Australia and advance to the last eight following a 1-1 draw in the round of 16 at France 2019).
X-Factor: Also Hegerberg. Still one of the game’s most dangerous attackers, the 27-year-old striker is good enough to win a match all by herself. Norway is capable of making a deep run with her back in the mix.
2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup: Norway team preview with Alexi Lalas
Coach: Alen Stajcic
Highest finish: First appearance
2019 finish: Did not qualify
Key players: Tahnai Annis, Sarina Bolden, Hali Long
What we’re excited to watch: With 18 American-born players on its 23-woman roster, the Filipinas will look to play spoiler Down Under.
What success looks like: Just being there is a triumph. Getting out of the group would be like winning the World Cup.
Achilles’ heel: Inexperience. This is the country’s first FIFA tournament at any level of women’s soccer.
X-Factor: Defense. Stajcic has made the Filipinas harder to score against since his 2021 arrival. In nine matches this year, they conceded more than one goal just twice.
2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup: Philippines Team Preview with Alexi Lalas
Coach: Inka Grings
Highest finish: Round of 16 (2015)
2019 finish: Did not qualify
Key players: Ramona Bachmann, Ana-Maria Crnogorčević, Lia Wälti
What we’re excited to watch: In their only previous World Cup appearance, the Swiss raised eyebrows by reaching the knockout stage before being eliminated by host Canada. Can they pull off another surprise this summer?
What success looks like: Merely surviving this tricky group will suffice after failing to make it to France 2019.
Achilles’ heel: Defense. La Nati conceded eight goals in three games en route to first round elimination at Euro 2022.
X-Factor: Crnogorčević, the 32-year-old Barcelona forward who is already Switzerland’s all-time top scorer and appearance leader.
2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup: Switzerland Team Preview with Alexi Lalas
Doug McIntyre is a soccer writer for FOX Sports. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer with ESPN and Yahoo Sports and he has covered United States men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.
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