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Women’s World Cup 2023: Who are defending champions? Who are the favourites this year?

The 2023 Women’s World Cup starts on Thursday 20 July, with co-hosts New Zealand taking on Norway before Australia host Republic of Ireland in the other half of the tournament.

USA kick the defence of their title off on Saturday against Vietnam, while sides such as England, Australia and Spain are looking to make their mark on the world tournament for the first time, with the Lionesses going into it as European champions.

101 Great Goals has answered some of the key questions ahead of the women’s World Cup.

Who won the last women’s World Cup?

United States are the reigning and defending champions, having beaten Netherlands 2-0 in the 2019 final.

This is actually the fourth time USA have won this competition, after 1991, 1999 and 2015.

Thus, should the Stars and Stripes achieve glory Down Under, they’d become the first team, men’s or women’s to claim a World Cup three-peat.

Which are nations are previous winners?

Norway were victorious at the second edition in 1995, Germany went back-to-back in 2003 & 2007, before Japan lifted the trophy in 2011, beating the U.S. in that final in Frankfurt.

Sweden, Brazil, China PR and Netherlands have all reached the final but are yet to hoist aloft the silverware.

Who are the favourites this summer?

As always, and rightly so, USA are the favourites which, given that they’ve never failed to reach the semi-finals of this competition, is fair enough.

But, Vlatko Andonovski’s team is far from flawless and impenetrable so, realistically, around a dozen of the 32-team field will genuinely believe they can go all the way.

England reached the semi-finals in both 2015 and 2019 and, having won the European Championships last summer, are undisputedly amongst the strongest sides heading Down Under.

The team the Lionesses beat at Wembley in last July’s final Germany will take some stopping too, having won two World Cups and a record eight Euros titles to date.

France, now led by two-time AFCON winning manager Hervé Renard, as well as Spain, despite all the controversy in their camp, both have the talent to compete with the very best.

Canada too are another team overshadowed by off-field issues but, having won Olympic Gold two summers ago, believe this could be their year.

Last, and by no means least, can Australia make home advantage count, with the Matildas’ primary aim to reach a World Cup semi-final for the very first time?

Women’s World Cup 2023 full fixture list & schedule

Picture of Ben Gray

Ben Gray

Arsenal fan – follow them over land and sea (and Leicester); sofa Celtic supporter; a bit of a football '"encyclopedia".

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