The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup kicks off on Friday when host nation France face South Korea in the tournament’s opening match at the Parc des Princes in Paris.
A total of 24 countries will compete in the month-long tournament, from 7 June until 7 July. Nine venues across France will host a total of 52 matches.
This World Cup – the 8th edition of the 24-team tournament – could be a watershed for women’s football, after four years of steady improvements in funding and coverage. The hope is that it will be the biggest showcase yet of the wealth of talent within the game.
The Spanish team – coached by Jorge Vilda – are hoping to reach the knockout phase for the first time after making their World Cup debut last time around in Canada.
Spain open their campaign against South Africa on Saturday in Le Havre before a tough test against 10-time European champions Germany on 13 June in Valenciennes.
They return to Le Havre for their final group game against China on 17 June, where their fate is set to be decided. However, if they succeed in finishing runners-up behind the Germans in Group B, even more difficult opponents most likely await in reigning champions USA.
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There are 10 Barça players in the Spain squad, and 15 Barça players in the tournament overall. Marta Torrejón, born in Mataró on the Costa Brava, is one of Spain’s captains and the most-capped player. Her experience, along with that of Barça women’s skipper Vicky Losada will be crucial if Spain are to turn their rise to 13th in the world rankings, spurred by a 100% win record in their qualifying campaign, into results on the global stage.
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Some of Barça’s most prominent players include Nigeria‘s former BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year Asisat Oshoala, who recently signed a permanent deal to remain at the club after her loan, and long-serving Brazil striker Andressa Alves.
Dutch duo Stefanie van der Gragt and Lieke Martens (also Barça players) count among the dark horses for the tournament, with the Netherlands having hosted and then surprisingly won Euro 2017, while Barça forward Toni Duggan is a genuine contender for the trophy with England.
FIFA Women’s World Cup Groups:
- Group A: France, South Korea, Norway, Nigeria
- Group B: Germany, China, Spain, South Africa
- Group C: Australia, Italy, Brazil, Jamaica
- Group D: England, Scotland, Argentina, Japan
- Group E: Canada, Cameroon, New Zealand, Netherlands
- Group F: USA, Thailand, Chile, Sweden
Key dates for the FIFA Women’s World Cup:
- 20 June: final group fixtures
- 22-25 June: round of 16
- 27-29 June: quarter-finals
- 2-3 July: semi-finals
- 7 July: Final at the Stade de Lyon
- For the full fixture list see fifa.com