Previewing the 2023 Women's World Cup.
England, Haiti, Denmark, China
The favorite: Top seed England won the 2022 Euro championship and came in third at the 2015 Women's World Cup and fourth at the 2019 Women's World Cup. However, a speed bump is evident in their recent form, having not won an official match in regulation since February, albeit while testing themselves against other powers such as Brazil, Australia and Canada, which was an unofficial match played behind closed doors.
Best matchup: Denmark and China are ranked 13th and 14th by FIFA, respectively, and meet on Matchday 1 in Perth in what could be a winner-take-all situation. With England also in the group, it's likely there isn't room for both the Danes and the Chinese in the next round, so the winner will be at a major advantage. Should the sides draw, it could come down to who can beat debutants Haiti by a larger goal difference.
History lesson: China may be the most accomplished women's soccer nation never to win a World Cup. The Steel Roses are nine-time champions of Asia, including last year after topping Japan on penalties in the semifinals and beating South Korea in the final. Similar to their regional rivals Japan, they also have fallen short twice against the United States in a final -- at the 1996 Olympic Games and then the 1999 World Cup.
Players to watch: England's Rachel Daly is arguably in the best form of anyone in a crowded battle for time at striker, having scored a record-tying 22 goals in the WSL for Aston Villa to win the Golden Boot in the English top flight. Denmark all-time leading scorer Pernille Harder had eight league goals and three more in the UEFA Champions League before making a summer move from Chelsea to Bayern Munich. China's Wang Shenshan is the rare prolific international striker who at times doubles as a defender.
Up next: If England move on as group winners, their most likely opponent in the round of 16 might be co-hosts Australia. However, Canada and the Republic of Ireland are also solid possibilities.
--Field Level Media