My 3 Thoughts on the World Cup 2023 Draw
At the World Cup 2023 draw in Auckland, New Zealand, on Saturday, the U.S. drew Vietnam (July 22 in Auckland), the Netherlands (July 27 in Wellington) and the winner of an upcoming playoff (Portugal, Cameroon or Thailand; August 1 in Auckland) in Group E. Here are my three thoughts on the draw:
• There are plenty of reminders of recent tournaments for the U.S. here. USA-Netherlands is a rematch of the 2019 World Cup final (won by the U.S.) and the 2021 Olympic quarterfinals (also won by the U.S.). Both teams will be heavy favorites to be the two to advance from the group, though the Netherlands will have a relatively new coach in Andries Jonker (who has replaced Mark Parsons). Opening with Vietnam, a first-time World Cup team from Asia, has several similar characteristics to opening against Thailand in that infamous 13-0 game from 2019. And look, there are the Thais again as a possibility from the playoff (though Portugal will be the favorite). If the U.S. advances from its group, its Round of 16 opponent would come from Group G (Sweden, Italy, South Africa and Argentina) and take place in Australia (Sydney or Melbourne).
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• In most groups, there are two clear favorites on paper to advance. The women’s World Cup is a 32-team tournament for the first time, which is a good thing overall with more countries getting opportunities and thus the chance to grow the women’s game globally. But there will be more mismatches in the group stage and likely a significant gap between the top two teams in most groups and the rest. That would include Group B (Australia and Canada), Group C (Spain and Japan), Group E (USA and the Netherlands), Group F (France and Brazil) and Group G (Sweden and Italy). However, that’s not the case in other groups like Group A (New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland), Group D (England, Denmark and China) and Group H (Germany, South Korea, Colombia and Morocco).
• There are nine teams capable of winning this World Cup. For me, those are USA, Australia, Canada, Spain, England, the Netherlands, France, Sweden and Germany. (I’m not including Japan, Brazil or Norway.) Australia wouldn’t be on that list if it wasn’t hosting the tournament. But nine is a reflection of how much the women’s game has gotten better in more countries, as well as the growth in Europe in particular. Spain, the Netherlands and France have significant coaching issues that may put their campaigns in peril, but what are likely to be unsurprising group stages will be rewarded with knockout rounds that should have some phenomenal matchups. I’m fired up to be in Australia and New Zealand for this tournament next year.
What are your thoughts on the draw? You can join the discussion in the comments below.
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