2019 Women’s World Cup: Everything You Need to Know
Group breakdown, game schedule, new rules, and more
By Nick Barbaro,
8:00AM, Tue. Jun. 4, 2019
All 52 games are being shown on Fox, FS1, or FS2, and in Spanish on Telemundo, Universo, or Telemundo Deportes; and live-streamed via the Fox Sports app and FOXSports.com, and the Telemundo Deportes and NBC Sports apps and telemundodeportes.com.
Kickoffs range from 8am to 2pm Central Time, with one 6am game this Sunday, June 9. fifa.com/womensworldcup
There are six groups of four teams each, playing three games in a round-robin format. The top two in each group, along with the four third-place teams with the best records, advance to the 16-team knockout bracket.
First Round Groups
(with current FIFA ranking in parentheses)
A: France (4), Norway (12), South Korea (14), Nigeria (38)
B: Germany (2), Spain (13), China (16), South Africa (49)
C: Australia (6), Brazil (10), Italy (15), Jamaica (53)
D: England (3), Japan (7), *Scotland (20), Argentina (37)
E: Canada (5), Netherlands (8), New Zealand (19), Cameroon (46)
F: USA (1), Sweden (9), Thailand (34), Chile (39)
Group A: France (4), Norway (12), South Korea (14), Nigeria (38)
The hosts are ranked fourth in the world, but may be the tournament favorites going in; among other things, they're the only team to beat the U.S. in the last 38 games. (If things go according to form, the U.S. and France will meet again in a much-anticipated quarterfinal match, June 28 in Paris.) Traditional power Norway has slipped a bit, and will be hard pressed by a young South Korean team that outscored opponents 30-1 in WC qualifying, but has struggled in their tune-up games this year. Nigeria has qualified for all seven previous WWCs, but has only played one game in the knockout rounds.
Group B: Germany (2), Spain (13), China (16), South Africa (49)
Germany, in turn, are the only team to beat France this year, and are heavy favorites to win the group. But Spain had the most impressive qualifying campaign of any European team, and are building on a very strong youth program that includes the 2018 U-20 finalists and U-17 champs. China's Steel Roses are a bit of an enigma, with only one player who plays club soccer outside China, and they've lost their last four games, including three at the Algarve Cup in March. South Africa's Banyana Banyana is expected to provide cheery filler.
Group C: Australia (6), Brazil (10), Italy (15), Jamaica (53)
The Matildas have been knocking on the door for a while now, and fallen short at the quarterfinals. This'll likely be their last go-round under sparkplug captain Lisa DeVanna, and they'd been playing well until the wheels came off in three-goal losses to the U.S. and Holland in their last two games. Brazil is always a threat, with midfielder Formiga set to play in her record seventh World Cup, but a nine-game losing streak(!) does not inspire confidence, and gives some hope to Italy, who breezed through qualifying in impressive fashion, to earn their first trip to the finals in 20 years. Jamaica became the first Caribbean team ever to qualify for the finals; they're also the lowest-ranking team here.
Group D: England (3), Japan (7), *Scotland (20), Argentina (37)
England got a huge boost – in experience, confidence, and credibility back home – from their third-place finish four years ago, and under head coach Phil Neville, they'll believe they can win it all. Japan, the team that knocked them out in 2015, has almost completely retooled since then; half of the lineup is 22 or younger, and six of them come from the 2014 U-17 World Cup champs. In comparison, only five veterans remain from the 2011 WWC champs. It's Scotland's first time to the finals, and you know they've had June 9 circled on their calendars ever since the draw – a win over England would make the campaign a success, no matter what else happens. Any win would be welcome for Argentina, who are 0-6 in two previous tries.
Group E: Canada (5), Netherlands (8), New Zealand (19), Cameroon (46)
Canada's a legitimate power; the only team they can't seem to beat is their archrival to the south. A 2-0 loss to the U.S. in the CONCACAF championship final in October was their only one in the last year. This'll be the fifth WWC for Christine Sinclair. Netherlands look to be rounding into form at the right time, blitzing Chile 7-0, and Australia 3-0 in their last two games. New Zealand's Ferns had the easiest path to the finals, cruising through Oceania qualifying with a 43-0 goal differential in five games; but they're for real, as a recent win over England proved. Cameroon has played only two games outside of Africa in the last four years, losing 4-0 to Spain, and 6-0 to France.
Group F: USA (1), Sweden (9), Thailand (34), Chile (39)
The U.S. drew probably the weakest group, though it includes the one team that's been their nemesis lately: Sweden, who knocked the U.S. out of the 2016 Olympics; on the bright side, that means we won't face them in the knockout round before the final. It's the fifth straight time the U.S. and Sweden have been drawn into the same group, and it's hard to imagine either of them having any real trouble in advancing out of it. Chile is winless in nine games dating back to last October; Thailand has lost 11 of their last 12, dating back to last August.
All times CDT; all games televised on Fox channels and Telemundo.
Fri., June 7: France-South Korea, Paris, 2pm
Sat., June 8: Germany-China, 8am; Spain-South Africa, 11am; Norway-Nigeria, 2pm
Sun., June 9: Australia-Italy, 6am; Brazil-Jamaica, 8:30am; England-Scotland, 11am
Mon., June 10: Argentina-Japan, 11am; Canada-Cameroon, 2pm
Tue., June 11: New Zealand-Netherlands, 8am; Sweden-Chile, 11am; USA-Thailand, 2pm
Wed., June 12: Nigeria-South Korea, 8am; Germany-Spain, 11am; France-Norway, 2pm
Thu., June 13: Australia-Brazil, 11am; South Africa-China, 2pm
Fri., June. 14: Japan-Scotland, 8am; Jamaica-Italy, 11am; England Argentina, 2pm
Sat. June 15: Netherlands-Cameroon, 8am; Canada-New Zealand, 2pm
Sun., June 16: Thailand-Sweden, 8am; USA-Chile, 11am
Mon., June 17: Germany-South Africa, Spain-China, 11am (Group B); France-Nigeria, Norway-South Korea, 2pm (Group A)
Tue., June 18: Italy-Brazil, Jamaica-Australia, 2pm (Group C)
Wed., June 19: England-Japan, Scotland-Argentina, 2pm (Group D)
Thu., June 20: Cameroon-New Zealand, Netherlands-Canada, 11am (Group E); USA-Sweden, Thailand-Chile, 2pm (Group F)
Round of 16
(with projected matchups in parentheses)
Sat., June 22: 10:30am, 1B-3ACD (Germany-?); 2pm, 2A-2C (Norway-Brazil)
Sun., June 23: 10:30am, 1D-3BEF (England-?); 2pm, 1A-3CDE (France-?)
Mon., June 24: 11am, 1F-2B (USA-Spain); 2pm, 2E-2F (Sweden-Netherlands)
Tue., June 25: 11am, 1C-3ABF (Australia-?); 2pm, 1E-2D (Canada-Japan)
Thu., June 27: 2pm (England-Brazil??)
Fri., June 28: 2pm (USA-France??)
Sat., June 29: 8am (Australia-Canada??); 11:30am (Germany-Netherlands??)
Semifinals & Final
Tue., July 2: 2pm semifinal
Wed., July 3: 2pm semifinal
Sat., July 6: 10am Third Place game
Sun., July 7: 10am Championship Final
The U.S. Schedule
The defending champions have the oldest (does "most experienced" sound better?) squad in the tournament, and – don't overlook this – the least rest time of any of the contenders. To win this thing, they'll have to play seven games in 26 days. If they make that quarterfinal against France, it'll be their fourth straight game with three days rest in between; France will come in having had four, five, and four rest days between games.
Travel will be easy, at least, with just about 50 miles between venues for the three U.S. group games in Paris, Le Havre, and Reims. Then assuming they advance, it's on to either Paris or Reims for the first knockout game, and either Paris or Rennes for the quarterfinal; both the semifinals and final will be in Lyon.
You may notice a number of rule changes that went into effect June 1:
Goal Kicks: These no longer must leave the penalty area before being live. Instead, the ball is live as soon as the kick is taken. Opposing players must still be outside the box when the kick is taken, but this will encourage teams that like to press eliminate the occasional silly re-kick, and mildly benefit teams that press upfield on defense.
Free Kicks: Offensive players are no longer allowed to take positions in the defensive wall, but must set up at least a yard away; this should avoid delays and altercations.
Penalty Kicks: The goalkeeper must have one foot, rather than both feet, on or above the goal line when the kick is taken. This rule has been notoriously unenforced, as keepers routinely advance off the line early to cut down angles. Now that the standard has been loosened slightly, it remains to be seen whether referees will now be inclined to enforce it more strictly.
Substitutes: Substituted players must now leave the field at the nearest point, rather than taking the long leisurely stroll across the field to the halfway line.
Red Cards for Coaches: Referees will be able to show coaches and other bench officials yellow or red cards, in the same way they do with players; previously the choice was just a talking-to or an ejection; this makes the discipline more public and standardized.
Handballs: FIFA has tried to defuse the very subjective judgment of whether or not a touch is "deliberate," by instructing that any touch that results in an advantage, or a goal, will be nullified and penalized with a free kick. Still murky is whether the offending arm is judged to be in a position "unnatural" to the action the player is taking, or is "enlarging" the player's body.
Drop Ball: When play is stopped on the field for an injury, or for other reasons that don't involve a free kick, the referee will now restart play by simply giving the ball to a player of the team who last had possession, with no opponent allowed within four meters at the restart. Previously, it was given to the other team, which was expected to give it back to the team who had it last in a show of good sportsmanship. Once again, just speeding things up a bit, and cutting down on possible disputes in a tense game.
Entries by Continent
Comparing the world rankings of qualifiers from the various continents, you can see a wide disparity in the level of competition, with Africa and South America still lagging behind.
Africa: Cameroon (38), Nigeria (46), *South Africa (49)
Asia: Australia (5), Japan (7), China (14), South Korea (16), Thailand (34)
CONCACAF: USA (1), Canada (6), *Jamaica (53)
Europe: Germany (2), England (3), France (4), Netherlands (8), Sweden (9), Norway (12), Spain (13), Italy (15), *Scotland (20)
Oceania: New Zealand (19)
South America: Brazil (10), Argentina (37), *Chile (39)
*Qualified for first time.
Copa America and Gold Cup
Meanwhile, two major mens' tournaments kick off next week. And all three tournaments end with a championship game on Sunday, July 7.
Copa America, the quadrennial South American tournament, will kick off in Brazil June 14, with this year's two guest teams being Qatar and Japan. Group play for the three four-team groups runs June 15-24, mostly two games a day, ranging from 1pm-6:30pm; then the eight-team knockout round is June 27-July 7. Streamed on ESPN+; televised in Spanish on Telemundo and Universo.
Gold Cup, the biennial CONCACAF Championship, kicks off with both Mexico and Canada in a doubleheader Sat., June 15 at the Rose Bowl. The host U.S. men will open June 18 at the new Allianz Field in St. Paul. The tourney is expanded from 12 to 16 teams for 2019, with matches for the first time in Costa Rica and Jamaica, and three doubleheaders in Texas: at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, and NRG Stadium and BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston. The group stage features one doubleheader a day, June 15-26; followed by quarterfinals June 29-30; semis July 2-3; and the final July 7. All games will be on Fox Sports.
Championship Finals for all three tournaments will be on Sunday, July 7: the WWC at 10am in the Lyon suburb Decines-Charpieu, Copa America at 3pm in Rio de Janeiro, and the Gold Cup at 8pm in Chicago.