The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup draw took place on Saturday in Auckland, New Zealand. Here are three things we learned.
The finalists who will participate in next summer’s Women’s World Cup learned their fate on Saturday when FIFA conducted the draw that placed the 32 teams into their first round groups.
The United States, a four-time World Cup winner, will be seeking to win its third straight trophy after taking it all in 2015 and 2019. The USWNT were placed in Group E.
The tournament will be hosted by Australia and New Zealand, marking the first time that a Women’s World Cup will feature co-hosts. In a series of other history-making firsts, the tournament will take place in the Southern Hemisphere as well as feature an expanded field of 32 teams, up from the previous 24.
The Women’s World Cup will be played from July 20 to Aug. 20. The draw yielded the following eight groups:
Here are three things we learned from the draw:
3. Co-host Australia gets the ‘Group of Death’
The draw was not kind to the Aussies. The Matildas were placed in Group B alongside Canada, the defending Olympic gold medal winners, Ireland and Nigeria.
Canada, ranked seventh overall by FIFA, recently beat Australia in back-to-back matches just last month. Ireland, ranked 24th, defeated the Matildas last year. Finally, Nigeria, one the most successful women’s national team from Africa, captured three of the last four Africa Women’s Cup of Nations titles.
2. Playoff winners could add to the list of first-time participants
Seven nations — Brazil, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Japan, Nigeria and the United States — have qualified for every Women’s World Cup since the inaugural edition was held in 1991. At the same time, five teams in the draw — Morocco, Ireland, Vietnam, Zambia and the Philippines — will be there for the first time.
It might not end there. Since FIFA expanded the field to 32, the number of first-time entrants could rise further following a series of World Cup playoff games that will be contested in New Zealand come February. The larger field, however, could result in more lopsided scores, especially during the group stage.
1. USWNT get an easy group
The United States were fortunate after being placed in Group E alongside the Netherlands, Vietnam and the winner of the playoff round between Portugal, Cameroon or Thailand.
Nonetheless, the two-time defending champions head into the World Cup at a time when the rest of the planet seems to be catching up with them following the rise of new rivals such as England and Spain and old foes like Canada and France.
“Today’s a good day,” USWNT midfielder Lindsey Horan told Fox Sports following the draw. “It’s exciting.” She said the opening game against Vietnam “offered us a great chance to get going in the tournament.”
The U.S. will play their first match against Vietnam on July 22, face the Netherlands on July 27 and close out the group stage five days later against the winner from the Group A playoff winner.