The FIFA Women’s World Cup is finally here, which means a few glorious weeks of top-tier soccer binge watching. Even if you’re not into soccer, or hate that we’re calling it soccer and not football like the rest of the world, the Women’s World Cup should definitely be appointment viewing. Your Netflix queue can wait for another day.
Here are all the reasons you should deck yourself out in your country’s colors, grab a few friends and a responsibly portioned beverage, and give in to the soccer madness.
- The USWNT are a) the defending World Cup champs, b) stacked to the rafters with household names and returning stars, and c) favored across virtually every predictive model to win it all. Okay, so this is only exciting if you’re rooting for the US — or is it? It wouldn’t be a tournament without a few surprises, and strong squads from Germany, England, Australia and host country France will be looking for an international upset.
Speaking of healthy competition, the WWC has historically been dominated by a few really, really good teams. However, that’s changing fast, and experts are saying this year’s competition could be fiercer and better than ever due to countries investing more money and interest in their women’s programs (although, to be clear, most think there’s still a long way to go).
The US currently holds the record for the most WWC titles, with three, but don’t count out the other top squads. There will be serious pressure on the French team to win at home, especially since their men took World Cup glory last year. And, they’re especially good again the USWNT: They’ve won two out of three of their last games against the Americans. If they both do well, they could meet in the quarterfinals. Yeah, definitely a must-watch.
Other teams to watch: Germany, who are ranked #2 in the FIFA rankings behind the US; Japan, who beat the US to secure the championship in 2011, and were beaten by the US in 2015; and Spain, who rode a massive 8-0 winning streak in their qualifying games.
And don’t forget, even teams who probably won’t make it to the final rounds will still make for some electric games early on. Take Nigeria, the only African team to qualify for all eight Women’s World Cups; or Argentina, who are back on the world stage after a long and controversial absence from international play.