In less than three weeks, the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup kicks off as 24 teams will be competing to see who will reign as champions of the world. There's so much excitement heading into this year's tournament to see if the defending champions will repeat to bring the United States the birth of a fourth World Cup title or if another team will emerge from the shadows. I honestly can't wait to see some highly competitive soccer once again on the national stage. As fans of the sport, I would say we were treated with a fantastic tournament last year in the 2018 Men's World Cup in Russia with France ultimately lifting the trophy after defeating Croatia 4-2 in the final.
It's difficult to say who will come out on top in this World Cup. I'll be rooting for my home nation of the United States of course, but my gut tells me their path to success will be much tougher this go around even though they are favorites to win the tournament. Looking at the analytics, in my opinion I would say the group of death this year is group A. The host nation of France, who have the second-best odds to win the tournament behind the USA, are met with two top-15 powerhouses in Norway and South Korea along with a three-time defending champion of the Africa Women Cup of Nations in Nigeria to make up the group.
This is just the eighth Women's World Cup in tournament history and the first time ever in France for the women's side of soccer (France has hosted the men's tournament twice in 1938 and 1998). This will also be the first Women's World Cup to ever have video assist referee (VAR) in place. Keep in mind that the host nation has never failed to advance to the knockout stages, so France has plenty of pressure and expectations heading in. The massive underdog for this year is Argentina, which according to FiveThirtyEight only have a 14.7% chance of advancing to the round of 16.
A total of nine stadiums were chosen for the tournament mapping across various cities of France including Paris, Nice, and Lyon. The biggest question I have for this tournament is which players across these talented rosters will breakout and make a name for themselves and their country? I guess we'll just have to wait and find out when the World Cup officially starts on June 7th with France taking on South Korea at 21:00 local time (3:00 pm ET in the USA) at the Parc des Princes in Paris.