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Liverpool FC Supporter’s Guide to the 2023 Women’s World Cup

Everything you need to know ahead of this summer’s Women’s World Cup.

Stock - Republic of Ireland Squad Announced for FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023

The year’s World Cup hosting duties are split between Australia and New Zealand. The tournament kicks off on July 20th and runs until August 20th. Since the competition will take place in the Southern hemisphere, it will be winter in the two host nations. The more temperate conditions will be a nice change from the boiling hot World Cups of the recent past and will hopefully help lead to uptempo matches and high-quality football.

The headline news for this World Cup, though, is a format change, expanding from 24 teams to 32 teams to replicate the traditional men’s format. This means that no advanced calculus will have to be done to determine which teams will make it out of their groups and into the knockout rounds this time around, and the top two teams from the eight groups will move on to the Round of 16.

While this could set the stage for some Beautiful Game™ underdog victories for teams that normally wouldn’t have previously qualified for the knockouts, it also means the potential for jaw-droppingly lopsided scorelines during the group stage when teams with elite training and experience face off against some eager but ill-equipped amateurs.

To top it off, what should be a celebration of the sport has hit plenty of stumbling blocks in the lead-up to the tournament. Most notably, FIFA president Gianni Infantino threatened a blackout if broadcasters did not significantly improve offers. While the rights to broadcast the tournament were finally awarded in Europe in early June, Japan—currently 11th in the world—has supporters currently crowdfunding an effort to purchase broadcast rights.

It is another stain on FIFA, one highlighting the continuing inequity between the women’s and the men’s game that, with the tournament about to kick off there are still supporters in competitive nations scrambling to figure out how, or even if, they will be able to watch the World Cup.

Storylines to Watch

Can Anyone Unseat The USWNT?

The US Women’s National Team won the last two World Cups (2019, 2015) and lost on penalties to Japan in 2011. While the squad has transitioned away from some veteran stalwarts and there are well-known players missing through injury (Becky Sauerbrunn, Mallory Swanson, Catarina Macario, and Sam Mewis), the US’ talent pipeline just keeps pumping. Still, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing for manager Vlatko Andonovski’s side as there have been questions about tactical rigidity and player selection. Can any of the likes of England, Germany, France, Brazil, Sweden, or Japan pounce to take the title away from the US this summer?

United States of America v Netherlands : Final - 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup France
US Women’s National Team after winning the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup
Photo by Jose Breton/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Can England Build On Their Euro Win?

The improved talent and stature of the WSL has been a boon to the English National Team, and Lionesses won their first major trophy last summer after defeating perennial power Germany for the title. With the World Cup the following summer, England looked poised to challenge the US.

Unfortunately, as with the Americans, the England national team have seen their squad decimated by injuries. Leah Williamson, Fran Kirby, and Beth Mead will all miss out, but manager Sarina Wiegman feels she has the depth in the squad to have a team that can make a deep run.

The Spanish National Team in Conflict

It’s a tale as old as time: Women band together to complain about the unequal treatment receive compared to their male peers, then get blacklisted for it. This time, it’s 15 members of the Spain Women’s National Team who came to be known as Las 15 who sent letters to the Royal Spanish Football Federation demanding changes. In response, the RFEF stated they wouldn’t be called up to serve their country unless they issued an apology.

This has led to conflict between clubs at the domestic level, with the Barca vs. Real Madrid rivalry flaring up on the women’s side due to Barca’s players protesting and Madrid’s staying quiet. Eventually, over the course of the past season, most of the blacklisted players trickled back into the fold—except for goalkeeper Sandra Paños, omitted for the World Cup in favor of less experienced Misa Rodríguez—but signs of tension remain.

Other Teams In Turmoil (France, Jamaica, Canada)

Sadly, Spain are not the only team dealing with controversy. Jamaica qualified for their second consecutive World Cup thanks to strong efforts from playrs like Manchester City striker Khadija “Bunny” Shaw. Despite the success, the Jamaican Football Federation (JFF) has systematically failed the Reggae Girlz, and has left the team scrambling to crowdfund money for the tournament.

Elsewhere in CONCACAF, the Canadian WNT is in a long-standing dispute with their federation over equitable pay and budget issues. The players are hopeful of a resolution before leaving for the World Cup, but negotiations are ongoing even as they begin their preparations for the tournament.

France, meanwhile, is looking to move past a chaotic few years that saw more than a few players speak out against manager Corinne Diacre. The talented squad had some of their star players state they would not play in the World Cup with Diacre in charge, with the French federation initially backing the manager before reversing course in the spring. It will be interesting to see if the team can rally together after a tumultuous few years with only a short time to prepare under a new manager.

Strongest Groups

Group E - USA, Netherlands, Portugal, Vietnam

Group E contains both the reigning two-time champion USWNT, as well as 2019 runner-ups Netherlands, giving us a chance to watch players like Crystal Dunn, Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, Vivianne Miedema, Shanice van de Sanden, and Lieke Martens all battling it out on the pitch for our enjoyment. Add in 21st-ranked Portugal, and it’s set to be an exciting and stressful group.

Group B - Australia, Nigeria, Canada, Republic of Ireland

Group B contains 2020 Olympic winners Canada, backed by all-time leading international goalscorer Christine Sinclair, and co-hosts and dark horse contenders Australia. Australia boast Sam Kerr, one of the world’s most vicious scoring threats, and she’ll be chomping at the bit to bring glory to her country at home. Along with the two powerhouses is the best African team in the tournament, Nigeria, led by Barcelona striker Asisat Oshoala. Finally, Republic of Ireland, home to several Liverpool players, including captain Niamh Fahey, rounds out the group.

Liverpool at the Women’s World Cup

Republic of Ireland Preview

Liverpool Players to Watch:

  • Niamh Fahey


Want an underdog to root for? The Republic of Ireland may be the team for you. The team will be competing in their very first Women’s World Cup after they beat Scotland 1-0 in an emotionally charged game to qualify. Ireland were unbeaten in the last seven games of their qualifying group stages and will hope to carry that momentum into the World Cup itself.

The Irish team is brimming with talent, and Liverpool defender Niamh Fahey is expected to play a big role in the center of defense for The Girls in Green. Unfortunately, forward Leanne Kiernan and former Liverpool player Megan Campbell (who we’re counting as one of our own for the time being despite her departure this summer) were deemed not fit enough for the final World Cup squad despite being called in for the provisional team. Kiernan started in Ireland’s last friendly ahead of the tournament, but her fitness and sharpness were always going to be a question after missing almost the entire WSL season from an ankle injury that required surgery. Non-Liverpool players to watch include Arsenal’s Katie McCabe, who was recently named the club’s 2022-23 Player of the Season, and North Carolina Courage’s Denise O’Sullivan who set up the goal that took Ireland to the World Cup.

Group Forecast:

Ireland play on the opening day of the tournament against co-host Australia (who they beat 3-2 in their last meeting in 2021) in Group B, but it’s unlikely to be an easy journey for the team. Group B also claims Canada and Nigeria, both of whom are tough teams with a much longer history at the World Cup than Ireland. It’s highly likely that Canada will top the group, with second place going to either Nigeria or Australia, but we’ll certainly see some excellent performances from all teams whatever happens.

Ireland Matches:

  • 20 July vs. Australia
  • 27 July vs. Canada
  • 31 July vs. Nigeria

Japan Preview

Liverpool Player to Watch:

Fuka Nagano


The Japan women’s national team are the highest achieving Asian team in football. They famously won the 2011 Women’s World Cup when they beat the United States in a penalty shoot out. The early 10s was the golden era for Nadeshiko Japan, starting with their huge World Cup victory and ending by making it to the following World Cup final in 2015.

During that time, the Japan vs USA rivalry was one of the most entertaining in sports, with the two countries finding each other battling it out in final after final together.

Nowadays, Japan sit at 11th place in the overall World Cup rankings. Their biggest rivalry is with fellow AFC member Australia, who boast arguably the best player in the world with Sam Kerr.

Fuka Nagano will be representing Japan for Liverpool. The 24-year-old midfielder has been a regular in the senior side since 2022, but this is her first World Cup. Nagano joined the Reds in January of 2023. Matt Beard started her in 13 matches upon her arrival. Nagano was one of the winter signings who helped rejuvenate the stagnating squad to finish the second half of the season strong.

Portugal Women v Japan Women -International Friendly Women
Liverpool and Japan midfielder Fuka Nagano
Photo by Eric Verhoeven/Soccrates/Getty Images

Group Forecast:

Japan placed into Group C along with Zambia (77th), Costa Rica (36th), and Spain (6th). On paper, this should be a relatively easy group for them to navigate. Their main competition will be Spain, who are dealing with internal issues and might not be on top of their game. Overall, it seems likely that Japan will make it out of, and even top, their group to move into the round of 16.


  • 22 July vs. Zambia
  • 26 July vs. Costa Rica
  • 31 July vs. Spain

Netherlands Preview

Liverpool Players to Watch:

  • Shanice van de Sanden


Runners up at the 2019 Women’s World Cup, the Orange Lionesses are nothing to sniff at, though they are often seen as underdogs. Most recently they made it to the quarterfinals of the Women’s Euros last year, ultimately losing in extra time to France, a development that lost then-manager Mark Parsons his job. Former Dutch player and Arsenal academy head Andries Jonker took over in August 2022 and helped the Lionesses earn qualification for their third World Cup.

While there is loads of talent in the squad, there are big concerns over the absence of record goal-scorer Vivianne Miedema. Miedema suffered a torn ACL in December, ruling her out for the tournament. Liverpool’s Shanice van de Sanden was part of the provisional squad, but did not make the official final roster. She did, however, travel with the team to serve as an injury replacement should Lieke Martens or one of the other attacking players get hurt.

Training Holland U21 -U21 Men
Liverpool and Netherlands forward Shanice van de Sanden (right)
Photo by Eric Verhoeven/Soccrates/Getty Images

Group Forecast:

Group E will be the pick of many as the toughest at the World Cup, and few will expect the reigning champion USWNT to finish anywhere but first, leaving the Dutch to battle Portugal for second place while Vietnam will simply try to stay competitive. The expectation, though, will be for Van de Sanden’s Netherlands side to secure a place in the knockout rounds.


  • 23 July Netherlands vs. Portugal
  • 26 July USA vs Netherlands
  • 01 August Vietnam vs Netherlands

Other Liverpool Connections at the World Cup

As Liverpool look to improve on a 7th place finish in the WSL, there are rumors around players who could be on the way in to strengthen the squad. Two of those, Teagan Micah and Martina Piemonte, will be heading to the World Cup this summer.

Teagan Micah (GK) - Australia

The 25-year-old goalkeeper has been identified as a potential upgrade for Liverpool between the sticks. She has plenty of experience, starting for Australia during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and in the Champions League for FC Rosengård. Unfortunately, Micah sustained a severe concussion in December that kept her out for the second half of the season. She’s back now, though, and in a battle for the starting gloves for Australia with West Ham’s Mackenzie Arnold.

Australia were given no favors as co-host, though, drawing a difficult group with Canada, Ireland, and Nigeria. Still, The Matildas will expect to fight for top spot with a Canada in the midst of a labor dispute with their organizing body as well as trying to identify their next great scorer after transitioning Christine Sinclair from a striker to midfield.

Ten Non-Liverpool Players to Watch

  1. Sam Kerr (Australia) - One of the best forwards to ever play the game, Kerr is Australia’s all time leading international scorer and the NWSL’s all time leading scorer. She will be playing in front of a home crowd and looking to make her mark on history.
  2. Alexis Putellas (Spain) - The Spainish National Team has enough drama to sustain three World Cups all on their own, and Alexis Putellas, reigning two-time Ballon D’Or winner and Spain and Barcelona captain, is in the middle of it. Despite doubts, she was named to the squad—something that was not at all a given, showing how absolutely wild the past year has been for La Roja—and will seek to lead her team glory while personally continuing her recovery from an ACL injury.
  3. Marta (Brazil) - One last hurrah for one of the game’s all time greats. Despite entering the tournament at the age of 37, Marta remains one of the best strikers in the world and is always capable of breathtaking moments of skill.
  4. Christine Sinclair (Canada) - Set to play in an astonishing sixth World Cup, the 40-year-old somehow still has it. For the highest scoring international player of all time, man or woman, this is almost certainly the last World Cup—and when she retires, she will go down as an all-time legend of the game in Canada and Portland, where she plays her club football.
  5. Sophia Smith (USA) - This young star looks set to make her name known in this World Cup. The USWNT is well known for cultivating elite players, and the Portland Thorns forward is poised to be the next one in line to take the mantle as some of the golden era women hit the ends of their careers.
  6. Bunny Shaw (Jamaica) - The Manchester City star has been on the front lines protesting the poor preparation and lack of opportunities provided by the Jamaican Football Federation to their women’s team. However, no amount of neglect can stop Shaw from scoring goals, and her talent on the ball will be the key to whatever success her country achieves.
  7. Ada Hederberg (Norway) - Former Ballon d’Or winner Hederberg missed the 2019 World Cup after disagreements with the federation over the treatment of their women’s team, but she’s back now and ready to do some damage.
  8. Wendie Renard (France) - Captain of the France team, this six-foot powerhouse takes charge of every pitch she’s on. Her leadership on the back line and her aerial ability from set pieces always makes France a force to be reckoned with.
  9. Lucy Bronze (England) - Bronze won two top flight titles with Liverpool early in her career, and has gone on to feature for some of the top teams in the world since. The attacking right back will look to start England’s attack from the back as they try to build on their European title from last summer.
  10. Lynn Williams (USA) - The American striker goes to her first World Cup at the tender age of 30, and overcame a major hamstring injury to do so. Williams’ story is one of perseverance, taking the non-traditional path of playing in Australia before making a name for herself in the NWSL. The hard-working forward is in top form, and will provide experience for a very young forward line.

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