100 Days until the World Cup – Who are the players to look out for?

There are just 100 days until the 9th Women’s World Cup Finals kick off in Auckland on the 21st July.

Currently over 650,000 tickets have been sold and FIFA have estimated that they are on course to sell a total of 1.5 Million. This would be the most of any female football tournament.

Australia’s opening match was originally due to be played at Sydney Football Stadium, which holds 45,500 people, but has been moved to a bigger venue to meet the demand for tickets.

The last phase of ticket sales has just started for what promises to be another big milestone in women’s football

During the build-up to the 2019 World Cup in France, Fifa said a record 720,000 tickets had been sold with 50 days to go. 

On the eve of the tournament 950,000 tickets had been purchased and a week later Fifa said more than 1million tickets had been “allocated to fans around the world”.

Squads for this years tournament have not yet been selected but some players have been on a run of good form both domestically and internationally, of late. 

Below are some players that, if selected, you should keep an eye out for during the tournament.

Lauren James 

Country/Club – England & Chelsea

England striker Lauren James failed to make the Euro 22 squad, but hasn’t let it affect her form for club or country. James was selected for the Arnold Cup Squad, which England retained, and was also named Player of the Tournament. It was also in this tournament that she scored her first Senior England goal. She is also becoming a key player under Emma Hayes. She has found the net 8 times this season and has registered 2 assists. James is getting used to being a big player and rising to big moments as she won the penalty that kept Chelsea in the Women’s Champions League. They are still on the hunt for the treble this season. 

Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw

Country/Club – Jamaica & Manchester City

Khadija Shaw currently leads the WSL Golden Boot race with 16 goals in 17 games. The prolific striker has a natural talent for finding the net. After failing to progress out of their group, in their maiden tournament, in 2019, they are looking to make it out this time around. They have been dealt a difficult group which includes France and Brazil, but are hopeful of causing an upset.

Lena Oberdorf

Country/Club – Germany & Wolfsburg

The German midfielder was named ‘Best Young Player’ at the Euros last summer. She has earned her place in the starting 11, where she so frequently is placed. If she is selected for the Germany squad in the summer, it will be her second World Cup for her country, after first being selected at the age of 17 in 2019. Domestically, she has helped Wolfsburg reach the Champions League Semi-Finals for the sixth time. Oberdorf doesn’t score many goals but puts in the hard yards to allow for teammate Alexandra Popp too often find the net. 

Alexia Putellas

Country/Club – Spain & Barcelona

Despite sustaining an ACL injury that ruled her out of Euro 2022, Alexia Putellas has still had a successful year. She has won the FIFA Best Award, and retained the Ballon d’Or for 2023. She has also managed some minutes for Barcelona this season, who are in the Champions League Semi-Finals and looking to retain their La Liga title. The midfielder was top goals scorer in the Champions League in 2021/22 scoring 11 goals throughout the tournament.

Sophia Smith

Country/Club – USA & Portland Thorns

American Sophia Smith is on the rise. She is a strong player within the USA squad and challenges Alex Morgan and Tobin Heath for a starting place. She got her first call up to the Senior side in 2020, but started getting consistent minutes in 2022, leading her to 11 goals in 17 appearances. Domestically, she has scored 26 goals in 54 appearances, since signing for Portland Thorns FC in 2020.  She has helped USA to SheBelieves success in 2021 and 2022 as well as CONCACAF success in 2022. The forward will also be looking to help her side win the World Cup for the third consecutive time.

Sam Kerr

Country/Club – Australia & Chelsea

Australian Sam Kerr has long been praised, after first rising to prominence in 2019, at the last World Cup. Since her move to Chelsea in 2020 she has scored 82 goals in 101 games. She has also helped lead them to 3 consecutive WSL league titles, a first Champions League final and two consecutive FA Cup titles. Individually, the forward has won two Golden Boots in the WSL and in 2022 she was named ‘FWA Women’s Footballer of the Year’. Kerr has also received consistent nominations for ‘The Best FIFA Women’s Player’ (2017-2022) and ‘BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year’ (2018-2022). She has also been named in the Guardian’s ‘100 Best Female Footballers In The World’ from 2017-2022. The Chelsea player is also the first and only Australian Women’s player to be named in the shortlist for the Ballon d’Or Féminin, and alongside Wendie Renard, is the one of two to have been nominated in all editions of the award, since it’s inception in 2018. 

Hannah Wilkinson 

Country/Club – New Zealand & Melbourne City

Hannah Wilkinson has scored 14 goals in 14 appearances for Melbourne City this season. She is a key player in the New Zealand squad and has been a starting player for her country in all group games at a major tournament since 2011. Remarkably, she was named in the 2019 World Cup squad despite suffering an ACL injury in only the October before. She has 14 goals for the Ferns in 105 games, with her most recent being the leveller against Iceland on Friday.

Rosella Ayanne

Country/Club – Morocco & Tottenham Hotspur 

Despite being born in the UK, Rosella Ayanne qualifies to play for Morocco, through her father. She has proven herself to be crucial in their game play and is a frequent starter for the side. The forward helped put the side into Women’s Africa Cup of Nations final, for the first time. She scored the victorious penalty for the hosts against Nigeria. Since changing her allegiance to Morocco, the forward has scored 9 goals in 19 appearances. 

Asialat Oshoala

Country/Club – Nigeria & Barcelona

Arguably the best African player in recent years, Asisat Oshoala has won nearly everything available to her. With Barcelona alone, she has won a Champions League title, 2 x La Liga titles, and two Queens Cups since joining in 2019. She was also the highest goalscorer in La Liga last season, with 19 goals. The Nigerian striker has been won the African Ballon d’Or four times, as well as being the first African player to be nominated for the main female award. Barcelona are still in contention for both La Liga and Champions League this season.

Rafaelle Carvalho Souza

Country/Club – Brazil & Arsenal 

Rafaelle has only recently been handed the Brazilian Captaincy, but has already led them to success. The defender led them to lifting the trophy in the Copa America last summer. This success qualified them to play in the first women’s Finalissima, where they pushed a dominant England side to penalties, but lost out. She moved to Arsenal last summer and has since helped them to win their first title since 2017; Continental Cup, in March. Her willingness and partnership with Williamson has also helped Arsenal to remain in the WSL title race, which has eluded them since 2018/19. Her strong, consistent performances have also helped the Gunners reach the semi-finals of Champions League since 2013.

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