Previewing the 2023 Women's World Cup.
New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Switzerland
The favorite: This may not be the same Norwegian squad that dominated in the 1980s and 1990s, but consider them slim favorites in one of the more balanced groups in the tournament. On paper, New Zealand would be pegged as the third-best team in the group as the 26th-ranked team in the FIFA World Rankings behind Norway (12th) and Switzerland (20th). But home-field advantage often plays a role in these tournaments.
Best matchup: It won't be where the round of 16 qualifiers are decided, but for sheer pomp and circumstance, it's tough to compete with the co-host Ferns opposing the Norwegians in the tournament opener in Aukland.
History lesson: The 2023 Philippines squad will be the first men's or women's team from the nation to contest a World Cup finals or Olympic tournament. They got here by the narrowest of margins, advancing past Chinese Taipei on penalties following a 1-1 draw in the quarterfinals of the 2022 AFC Women's Asian Cup.
Players to watch: Norway's Ada Hegerberg won the women's Ballon d'Or in 2018 as the world's best player and is a six-time UEFA Women's Champions League winner with Lyon. She is appearing in her first World Cup action since 2015 after a five-year hiatus from the national team to protest the Norwegian federation. New Zealand fullback Ali Riley will wear the captain's armband for the co-hosts and is the team's only NWSL-based player with Angel City FC.
Up next: This is one group where finishing first or second might not matter nearly as much, with the teams that advance facing the top two finishers in Group C. In that group, Spain and Japan will be heavily favored to advance, with little between them in quality.
--Field Level Media