The highly anticipated 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand is set to be the largest tournament for female football since its inaugural 1970 edition. Although it still has a way to go before matching competitions like the English Premier League, women’s international football has received a boost in recent years due to a new generation of high-quality players and an elevated profile.
Watching the Lionesses claim the 2022 Women’s European Championships was a huge moment for female footballers worldwide, especially in the UK. The game needed that kind of high-thrills tournament football, with Wembley Arena breaking its attendance record during the game against Germany.
But it certainly won’t be plain sailing for Beth Mead and company in Australia. Bettors and bookmakers have struggled to pick a winner, mainly due to the wealth of talent going head to head. We’ve selected some of the main players to look out for when placing a wager, especially in the round of 16 matches and after, where individual quality can really make the difference. Keep reading for the lowdown.
Arguably the greatest female footballer of all time, Marta is a World Cup veteran who has recovered from an ACL injury in record time to set up her sixth appearance at the tournament. At 37, the Brazilian is approaching the twilight of her career, but there is no doubt that she can still make the difference. Marta, the most prolific player in the men’s and women’s game, has scored 17 goals so far in the World Cup. Can she add a few more to her tally in Australia and New Zealand? We wouldn’t bet against it.
An indispensable part of the Lionesses team that secured the 2022 European Championship, Lucy Bronze has an astonishing record when it comes to picking up trophies. The right-back currently plies her trade at Barcelona, winning the Champions League in her debut season. Bronze also picked up three Champions League wins at Lyon between 2017 and 2020, and has three FA Women’s Super League titles with Liverpool and Manchester City to boot. The intelligent player offers a new dimension wherever she plays, using her tactical intelligence and brilliant passing range to dictate play from an unlikely position on the right flank.
Alex Morgan is undeniably the most important US player going into the 2023 Women’s World Cup. Her international career features over 200 appearances and 121 goals, providing instrumental firepower and experience that took the US women’s team to glory at two World Cups and the Olympics. Despite being 34, Morgan is showing no signs of slowing down any time soon. She was voted player of the tournament at the 2022 CONCACAF Women’s Championship, helping her team to victory in the final after scoring the winning goal. Don’t miss Morgan at the 2023 World Cup, as she could easily win another player of the tournament award.
The Jamaican starlet Khadija Shaw has just had an absolutely ferocious season at Manchester City, scoring a remarkable 31 goals in 30 games. She is only 26 years old and has already broken the Jamaican goalscoring record, supplying 56 international goals that have put her on the top of the rankings for both the men’s and women’s teams.
Although you cannot win a tournament with pure firepower alone, the Jamaicans will greatly benefit from Shaw’s incredible goalscoring prowess. Other teams will have to be at the peak of their concentration levels otherwise Shaw could make them rue any slight defensive slips in seconds, something that makes her a particularly dangerous opponent going into the tense knockout rounds.
Australia’s Sam Kerr made history last year by becoming the first female player to be on the cover of a FIFA game, confirming her meteoric talent and popularity. The Matildas’ captain and leading goal scorer will be incredibly important for the host nation, and will be hoping to catapult them to their first Women’s World Cup triumph.
Alexia Putellas is without doubt one of the best players going into the 2023 Women’s World Cup and is more than capable of making the difference for the Spaniards. She has won a clean sweep of awards, including the European Women’s Player of the Year, FIFA Women’s Player of the Year and the Ballon d’Or Féminin in 2021 and 2022, confirming her position as one of the very best. Watch out for the Barcelona midfielder in Australia and New Zealand.