Key players to watch in the Women’s World Cup 2023

3 mins

Luckily for soccer fans, the Women’s World Cup 2023 will have no shortage of marquee names this summer! United States center forward Alex Morgan, Spain midfielder Alexia Putellas, and iconic Australian forward Sam Kerr headline the players whose stars we expect to shine brightest when the action starts July 20 in Australia and New Zealand.

As the Women’s World Cup draws near, let’s look at the players we expect to take over the land Down Under during the 64-game tournament. 

[Be sure to catch all the action, goals, and drama with free, secure 2023 Women’s World Cup live streams when you watch with ExpressVPN!]

Honorable mention: Marta, Brazil, and Megan Rapinoe, United States

It would feel strange omitting Marta and Megan Rapinoe from this list, even if neither is expected to play the significant roles they have in years past. Marta, the Women’s World Cup all-time scoring leader with 17 goals, recently announced this summer’s tournament would be her last with the ​​Seleção. Rapinoe, a two-time champion and reigning Golden Ball and Golden Boot winner, previously announced her plans while speaking to TIME earlier this year.

“I’m all for longevity, but we don’t need to drag it,” said Rapinoe, who turned 38 on July 5. 

Rapinoe is expected to come off the bench for the USWNT, while Marta (who turned 37 in February) is likely to fill a reserve role—at least at first, while she recovers from a left knee injury. We’ll see if either living legend has one more goal left in the tank! 

Alex Morgan, United States

Morgan is no stranger to World Cup glory, arriving in Australia and New Zealand as one of only nine USWNT players featured in at least two prior World Cup competitions. If this relatively inexperienced squad is to become the first team—regardless of gender—to win three consecutive World Cup tournaments, they’ll need Morgan at her best Down Under.

Morgan’s importance to the USWNT only skyrocketed when captain Becky Sauerbrunn was officially ruled out for the World Cup in June amid a lingering foot injury. Can Morgan and the USWNT make history, or will their reign atop the end finally end?

Alexia Putellas, Spain

Have fun stopping Alexia Putellas, who is sure to hit the pitch looking for something to prove—and someone to silence—following a devastating left ACL tear that forced her to miss last summer’s UEFA Women’s Euro. Only two years removed from becoming the first player to win the UEFA Women’s Player of the Year Award, the Ballon d’Or Féminin, and the Best FIFA Women’s Player Award, Putellas is ready to lead La Roja on a deep run in this year’s World Cup. 

Caroline Graham Hansen, Norway

Caroline Graham Hansen took over the 2019 World Cup, completing the most dribbles of any player in the tournament and tying for the lead with two penalty kicks scored. After reaching the inaugural Women’s World Cup final in 1991 and winning it all four years later, Norway hasn’t advanced beyond the quarterfinals in nearly 30 years. Can Hansen lead The Grasshoppers back to the promised land this summer?

Debinha, Brazil

Debinha already owns two National Women’s Soccer League titles. Is this the year the 31-year-old finally experiences the jubilation of a World Cup championship? Those looking for a dark horse team to win the Women’s World Cup should know Brazil had the ninth-best odds (+2800) ahead of kickoff. 

Keira Walsh, England

Pressure is rising for England, who is yet to even reach a Women’s World Cup final. Whatever The Lionesses do this summer will be without midfielder/central defender and captain Leah Williamson, who ruptured her ACL in April.

Enter Keira Walsh, who became the most expensive player in Women’s Premier League history earlier this year when she joined Barcelona for roughly 400,000 EUR. Although Walsh won’t serve as the official captain Down Under (that honor instead went to Chelsea’s Millie Bright), she’ll nonetheless be tasked with helping England finally win that elusive World Cup title.

Sam Kerr, Australia

Good luck keeping Australia’s Sam Kerr from scoring. No, we’re serious. You can do everything in your power to make it work, but she’s bound to score on you at some point. The 29-year-old striker is the Matildas’ captain and all-time leading goal-scorer and has an opportunity to win the World Cup on home soil.

We apologize to every other team in Group B counterparts Canada, Nigeria, and the Republic of Ireland for the reality check.

Can’t get enough fun on the pitch? Be sure to also check out our football hub for all the latest on your favorite leagues, from the Premier League to MLS.

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