Your Quick Guide to the 2019 FIFA World Cup
June snuck up on you. And you’ve been hearing about the 2019 FIFA World Cup, in which the twenty-four best women’s national soccer teams in the world will compete for glory in the greatest soccer tournament in the world. It’s the pinnacle of any soccer player’s career. And it starts this week.
You may be totally new to following professional soccer, or know every player since the tournament began in 1991. Either way, here’s a quick rundown of the groups, the schedule, and the players to watch.
Qualifying: How Teams Get Here
Twenty-four teams qualify for the World Cup by coming out in the top of their respective sections through qualification matches, which have taken place over the past year.
Groups: Who Plays Who (to start)
After teams qualified for the World Cup in their continental federations (CONCACAF for USA for instance), their names were entered into a lottery system. Names were drawn and placed into six different groups (A, B, C, D, E, F), determining who each team will play in their group stage.
Schedule of the Tournament: How it Works
June 7 - June 20
Teams play everyone in their group in a round-robin style. They collect points for a win (3) or a tie (1) and get an overall accumulation of goals for the event of a tie among ranks in the group.
If a game ends in a tie after the 90 minutes + stoppage time, there is no over time in the group stage.
16 teams advance: #1 and #2 of each group (8 total) as well as four #3’s.
After points, tiebreakers are decided as follows for ties within groups:
Goal differential (2-0 is differential of 2 whereas 2-1 is differential of 1)
Points against teams in question
Goal difference against teams in question
Goals scored against teams in question
Fair play points in all matches
Drawing of lots
June 22 - July 7
These games are played once the group stage is over and 16 teams are left. The first round will see 8 teams advance to the quarterfinals, then 4 teams advance to the semi-finals. The winners of the semi-final matches advance to the Gold Medal Final. The losers of the semi-final matches go to the Bronze Medal match to determine a third place winner.
There are no points accumulated in this stage - you either win and move on or lose and leave. In the event of a tie after 90 minutes + stoppage time, two extra periods of 15 minutes each will be played. If there is still a tie after the extra time periods, the match is decided by a penalty shoot-out.
Check out our special podcast series on the World Cup to get some extra tips for the bracket challenge!
Where Matches will be played in France
World Cup matches will be played all over France, from Valenciennes in the far north to the beautiful seaside venue of Nice in the southeast.
The Players: Who to Watch
Lucy Bronze - England / Defender
Currently plays for Olympic Lyon in France who just won the Champions League
Barbara Bonansea - Italy / Forward
Juventus in Serie A League
2016 Serie A Female Footballer of the Year
Christine Sinclair - Canada / Forward
Captain of the Team
Plays for Portland Thorns in NWSL
Canada's all-time leading scorer
Currently second in all-time international goals for males or females with 181 goals - Abby Wambach is first with 184 (she might surpass Abby this World Cup!)
Her 5th World Cup
14 time Canadian Player of the Year
Tobin Heath - USA / Flank/attacking midfielder
Plays for the Portland Thorns
Went to UNC Chapel Hill
Crafty player - incredible footwork
Scored 8 goals for Portland Thorns in 2018
2016 US Soccer Female Athlete of the Year
Vivianne Miedema - Netherlands / Forward
22 years old
Scored five goals in the group stage of World Cup qualifying and scored in each leg of the playoff final against Switzerland
Scored two goals in the 2017 Euro final
Plays for English club Arsenal in the FA Women’s Super League, she already has 14 goals this season, including two hat tricks.
Sam Kerr - Australia / Forward
Plays for Chicago Red Stars in NWSL
In 2017, she was awarded the best player in Australia
2018 ESPY Awards Best International Women’s Soccer Player
2017, 2018 NWSL Best XI
2017 NWSL MVP Award
2017, 2018 NWSL Golden Boot Award (most goals scored in league)
2013, 2017, 2018 PFA Women’s Footballer of the Year
Holds record for most goals scored in the NWSL - 55 to date
Formiga - Brazil / Midfielder
Appearing in her 7th World Cup at 41 years old
Plays for Paris Saint-Germain
Has played professionally in France, Sweden and USA
Jody Brown - Jamaica / Forward
Only 17 years old
Players for American club Montverde Academy
Named to the 2018 CONCACAF XI Best Female Team (alongside Alex Morgan)
Become a Bigger Fan with She Plays
Well that’s it. Not really it, but hopefully this has helped get you up-to-speed and excited for what’s about to go down in France for the next month.
And here’s something to help you get even more informed and involved on your fan journey -- stay up-to-date with the World Cup and other incredible women’s professional sports by signing up for our weekly bulletin.
Need an excuse to miss work for a #USWNT game? We’ve got you covered.