The 2019 Women’s World Cup begins Friday in France, and while the hosts and the United States are the virtual co-favorites to win the title, this year’s tournament features the deepest field ever, creating an intriguing competition where any number of teams could come out on top.
At FanDuel Sportsbook, the USA (+300) is the favorite, just a hair ahead of France (+360), though the hosts are given a slight advantage by many European oddsmakers.
USA, France Keep Focus on the Field
In whichever order you prefer, the two countries come in as the teams to beat, and both sides have reason to think they’ll walk away with the trophy.
The Americans come in as the defending champions, and as always, feature a deep squad that includes both returning stars and a number of young up-and-comers to round out the roster. The team has been practicing in England for over a week now, and will start off by playing Thailand on June 11, a match in which the US is heavily favored.
As with several of the top women’s teams, many of the headlines that have been generated about the USA squad in recent months has been about the inequity in pay and conditions the team faces when compared to their less successful male counterparts. But since arriving at Tottenham Hotspur’s training facility in London, those issues have been pushed to the side to make way for final preparations for the tournament.
“We try to create this bubble when you come into here and the focus has been extraordinary,” US head coach Jill Ellis told reporters while in London. “Our trainings here have been fantastic.”
Compared to the Americans, the French team hasn’t had much in the way of Women’s World Cup success. But armed with a squad that has shown it can beat anyone in the world, France believes that a run to a World Cup title could be the impetus to finally give the women’s game the attention it has been denied in a country that’s obsessed with men’s soccer.
“If we get the results, of course it will be only a positive thing for women’s soccer in France,” head coach Corinne Diacre told reporters on Thursday. “But for us, the main goal is to have the results on the field and be focused on our performance on the pitch.”
Deepest Women’s World Cup Ever
While much of the hype will be for France and the United States – and the fact that the two teams could be meeting in the quarterfinals if all goes to form – there are other serious contenders this year. Germany (+500) has already won two Women’s World Cup titles, and stand as the reigning Olympic champions. Led by 27-year-old Dzsenifer Marozsan, Germany hasn’t lost a friendly in a year, and even beat France 1-0 on French soil in February.
England (+750) hasn’t traditionally been among the powerhouses of women’s soccer, but a third-place finish in 2015 backed up by a semifinal appearance at the 2017 European Championships has them near the top of everyone’s list of contenders.
While those four teams make up the consensus top tier of contenders, this year’s tournament features a long list of teams that are considered dark horses to make a title run. Among other hopefuls are Japan (+1400), the Netherlands (+1400), Australia (+1600), Canada (+1800) and Spain (+2100), all of whom are expected to easily qualify for the knockout stages.
The winner will be determined on July 7 in Lyon, which is hosting not only the final, but also both semifinal matches for the 2019 Women’s World Cup.