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19th Jul 2023

Women’s World Cup: Ones to watch

Callum Boyle

Women's World Cup

The crème de la crème at the Women’s World Cup

With the Women’s World Cup about to start, it’s time for everyone to get excited about what the next month has in store for us all.

Australia and New Zealand are this year’s co-hosts and with 32 nations competing in the tournament for the first time, there’s certainly no shortage in the amount of talent on display.

To get the lowdown on what to expect form the World Cup you can find it all here but for now, here are some of the players that you should be keeping an extra close eye on.

Women's World Cup

Megan Rapinoe – USA

Rapinoe (above, cente) will take to the stage for the last time after the 38-year-old confirmed she would be retiring at the end of the tournament.

Known for brilliant footballing abilities and outspoken views off the pitch, Rapinoe has been a great ambassador for the women’s game and is a part of the golden generation that sees the USA go into Australia & New Zealand as the reigning champions and looking to become the first nation in both the men’s and women’s World Cup to win the tournament three times in a row.

Sam Kerr – Australia

Women's World Cup

Kerr is one of the best strikers in the world and the epitome of someone that thrives under pressure. Leading the line for a host nation at a major tournament is never easy but the 29-year-old fits the bill perfectly.

After playing an instrumental role in securing Chelsea’s fourth consecutive Women’s Super League title as well as the Women’s FA Cup final in a cup double last season, Kerr will be hoping to take the Matildas to the latter stages of the tournament.

She boasts an incredible goalscoring record at international level with over 60 goals to her name and in the 2019 World Cup scored five goals.

Denise O’Sullivan – Ireland

Compared to Roy Keane by Irish footballing legend Olivia O’Toole, we have another talismanic Cork midfielder than can turn a game on its head with a pass, tackle or goal. O’Sullivan and Katie McCabe are the two shining lights in the Irish side and their best hopes Down Under. Here is what Pat McCarry wrote about O’Sullivan, back in 2019:

‘The player that grabbed their attention most, though, was Denise O’Sullivan. Ireland’s No.10 was pure class as she constantly got on the ball, evaded opponents and set up a steady stream of attacks… No matter what pressure she was placed under, the 25-year-old usually found a way out, ball-on-toe, and found a teammate. Grace under fire.’

Asisat Oshaola – Nigeria

Women's World Cup

The Barcelona star made history by becoming the first woman from an African nation to win the Women’s Champions League in 2021 before winning it again two years later (Oshaola did miss the final through injury).

You don’t play for Barcelona unless you’re seriously good and the 28-year-old, as proved by being voted African player of the year on five occasions and was first African to be nominated for the Ballon d’Or Féminin.

Nigeria are a side that could cause an upset in this tournament. They’re definitely capable of getting out of their group that contains hosts Australia, Canada and tournament debutants, the Republic of Ireland.

Oshaola is no longer a youngster and with the 28-year-old in her prime and coming into her third successive World Cup, any success Nigeria have down under relies on the forward being on her A game.

Keira Walsh – England

Women's World Cup

Four years ago, Keira Walsh nearly quit football following a difficult 2019 World Cup campaign and now she’s arguably one of the best players in the world.

Anyone who watched her play at the European Championships last summer know that she’s the one that makes England tick. Her exquisite range of passing helps to both keep the Lionesses ticking over while recycling the ball or to launch a devastating attack.

After leaving Manchester City for Barcelona last summer, Walsh has only continued to grow in stature and is probably one of, if not, the first names on the team sheet.

Alexia Putellas – Spain 

Women's World Cup

There was a time where some thought that Putellas wouldn’t be going to the World Cup however Spain can say that the world’s best player will be in attendance for them.

Between the years 2021 and 2022 she won the Ballon d’Or Féminin, the Best FIFA Women’s Player, and European Women’s Player of the Year in both 2021 and 2022.

Back in November, 2022 the 29-year-old called out the head coach Jorge Vilda over the way he was handling the squad – subsequently leading to four of her teammates opting not to play this year.

Putellas also only returned after a nine-month lay-off due to injury so there is a lot of pressure on someone who is probably still getting back to speed.

Lena Oberdorf – Germany 

Women's World Cup

The 21-year-old was a standout performer in Germany’s run to the final of Euro 2022 last year and her ability to slot in at central defence or as a full-back when required makes her a valuable asset.

A hard-hitting tackler who is capable of shutting down the opposition’s attack only to quickly spring her side into attack, Oberdorf is the most important cog in the machine and will only improve as the tournament goes on.

Marta – Brazil

Women's World Cup

For many, Marta was one of the first global superstars in the women’s game. Having won the

FIFA World Player of the Year on six occasions, the 37-year-old also holds the record for the most goals in World Cup tournaments – men or women’s – with 17.

It’s likely to be the legendary footballer’s last tournament and she’ll no doubt want to leave on a high note.

Khadija Shaw – Jamaica

Women's World Cup

Nicknamed ‘Bunny’, it’s been an incredible season for Shaw as she scored 31 goals in 30 games for Manchester City this season.

To add to the excitement, Shaw is also Jamaica’s leading goalscorer with 56 goals and is still only 26, meaning she is very much still in her prime. Shaw has a real chance to impress in a group that contains tricky fixtures against France and Brazil. Her goal-scoring prowess may help to cause an upset or two.

Ada Hegderberg – Norway

Women's World Cup

For Hegderberg, this tournament will be a huge moment in her career as she returns to the World Cup after missing the 2019 edition due to a self-imposed exile as an act of protest against the Norwegian Football Federation’s treatment of the women’s game.

Norway will be extremley grateful to have someone as gifted as the 28-year-old. Not only is she the Champions League’s all-time leading scorer, Hegderberg has six Champions League’s and eight French Divison One Féminine titles.

WATCH OUR WOMEN’S WORLD CUP PREVIEW:

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