Complete guide to France 2019
FIFA WORLD CUP 2019 - EVERY TEAM PREVIEWED RIGHT HERE!
Newsroom has partnered The Guardian and journalists around the world to profile every team in the women's Fifa World Cup 2019, which starts today in France. The country by country stories have appeared on this site over the past fortnight. Here they all are, with the idiosyncrasies and charms of each country's sports journalists. Below is our sports editor Steve Deane's preview of the big tournament.
It’s time to get excited.
There’s a football World Cup coming up – and New Zealand is involved. Not just involved, but in with a chance of qualifying from the group phase and making a run in the knockout stages.
The amount of times this nation has achieved that at senior level in the world’s most popular sport is precisely zero. So history beckons. Maybe.
The 5-0 pasting the Ferns received at the hands of reigning champions and perennial world No. 1 United States in a recent warm-up match underlines the size of the task facing the plucky Kiwis.
There is a (slight) caveat to that result, however: the Ferns had only just assembled and were without a number of first choice players, while the US players were playing for their places as the nation’s World Cup squad had yet to be confirmed.
So that match was always going to be a battle.
The Ferns will be hoping their 1-0 win over former World Cup winners Norway, and a more recent 2-1 success over Mexico, are more indicative of their true form.
And it can be done, as a brilliant bunch of Kiwi girls showed with their staggering third place finish at the U17 World Cup in Uruguay late last year.
If the Ferns can get their bandwagon rolling, Kiwi football fans will surely jump on it.
Whether that happens or not, this World Cup shapes as a breakthrough event for the female game – and women’s sport in general. Fifa has set a target of one billions viewers – and the expectation is that the target will be met.
With the pace, skill level and athleticism in the women’s game having increased dramatically in recent years, those viewers are in for a treat.
“It is going to be one of the best World Cups we have seen for women,” 50-cap former Football Fern Maia Jackman says.
“It will be very attacking. A lot of teams are playing out from the back and wanting to keep the ball. If you look at the first World Cup – you can’t compare it to what we’ll see in 2019. Seven hundred and fifty million people watched the 2015 World Cup and this time they are pushing for one billion – and I really think they’ll make it.”
Increased investment by national associations, the emergence of more professional leagues and better conditions and facilities have helped raise the standard of the women’s game to the point where it is now a genuine spectacle.
“The women’s game is getting more and more attractive,” says Jackman, who will be proving punditry on SKY Sports throughout the tournament. “There are less theatrics than the men. The women just get on with it. Brazil and Argentina will throw themselves around a bit as usual, but other than that it is a real fair game with really exciting football.
“We’ve seen women’s football get more and more expansive. They’re able to hit those longer balls that you see in the men’s game but at the same time keep it really short and exciting.”
Happily, the increased status of the women’s game is also reflected in media coverage.
LockerRoom is part of a global collaboration led by The Guardian that will see 24 football writers from around the planet share previews of their national teams with news organisations from the other 23 competing nations.
That means, starting today with hosts France and Group A dark horse Republic of Korea, LockerRoom will provide an in-depth preview of every team at the event. And SKY Sports pundit Maia Jackman will also break down all six pools in the build-up to kick off on June 8.
Every team, every pool, every angle – right here in LockerRoom.
If you’re a football fan, it really is time to get excited.