The Women’s World Cup is already providing top quality entertainement and excitement, with the first round of group matches in the bag and various teams and players just getting started.
The United States are favourites to walk away with a third consecutive trophy never before seen in any World Cup – men’s or women’s – competition. But they face competition from the likes of Germany, who have also began well, and a Brazil team looking for their first global triumph.
Others like England and France have a lot of work to do after laboured opening games.
These are 90min’s player power rankings…
The sky is the limit for Linda Caicedo, who is already smashing it at her first senior World Cup, having set the Under-17 World Cup alight just last year. The 18-year-old found the net against South Korea in the first round of games and gives her country a huge chance of getting to the knockouts.
Teresa Abelleira’s rise at this level has been a silver lining of the concerning situation that continues to surround the Spain squad. She picked out more key passes (10) in La Roja’s opening win over Costa Rica than co-hosts Australia (8) did as a whole team in their respective first match.
Klara Buhl makes Germany a threat at this World Cup as they seek to go beyond the quarter-finals for only the second time since they last won it in 2007. The Bayern Munich forward scored and assisted against Morocco to help run up the score-line in the biggest win of the opening matches.
Operating from the left, Jun Endo was the creative maestro behind Japan’s slightly surprising demolition of Zambia, who proved in a warm-up friendly against Germany they have the potential for an upset. She set up the second and scored the fourth in that win.
Hinata Miyazawa got the ball rolling for Japan in their win over Zambia, netting the first goal and later also contributing the third. As one of a pair of number 10s, she provides a crucial link between the midfield and the main striker, which has already got her on the scoresheet twice.
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Spain survived without Aitana Bonmati and the other players who took a stand against coach Jorge Vilda. But La Roja are far superior now that she is back and that showed enormously in the way the Barcelona midfielder dictated things and constantly picked clever passes against Costa Rica.
Lindsey Horan has so far risen to the occasion of captaining the United States in search of another World Cup. On location in New Zealand, 90min’s Lizzy Becherano said of the Vietnam game: “Horan was everywhere on the pitch to stand as one of the most dynamic players of the match.”
Alexandra Popp has nothing left to prove but remains as determined as ever. There was a moment in Germany’s 6-0 annihilation in Morocco that showed it best: her team was already 4-0 up and a personal brace was in hand, but when the ball was there to be won in front of goal, she bundled herself, a teammate and a defender into the net to reach it first. As it happens, the ball was already over the line and it went down as an own goal.
Sophia Smith is the leading talent in a new generation of American players making their World Cup bow in 2023. She didn’t disappoint on matchday one, racking up two goals and an assist against Vietnam. At 22, the potential is enormous because she is already reaching world class levels now.
Brazil have had countless World Cup stars over the past 32 years and Ary Borges added her name to that list with a stunning hat-trick on her debut in the competition. The Selecao took Panama to pieces and 23-year-old Borges is now a potential shout for the Golden Boot.
LISTEN NOW TO 90MIN’s FOOTBALL CLIMATE CONVERSATION PODCAST
Former Italy international Arianna Criscione, Dulwich Hamlet’s Brittany Saylor and Football for Future founder Elliot Arthur-Worsop join Katie Cross to have football’s climate conversation about the Women’s World Cup and tournament football’s carbon footprint. Pledgeball’s Heather Ashworth also gives an update on the Pledgeball’s new Women’s World Cup initiative.
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