Power Ranking All 32 Teams at the 2023 Women’s World Cup
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For the first time in Women’s World Cup history, 32 national teams from around the world will compete at the tournament.
The Women’s World Cup began as a 12-team tournament in 1991 before expanding to 16 teams in 1999, 24 teams in 2015, and now 32 for this summer’s contest. With the latest expansion, there are more teams vying for a title than ever before.
So, who are the favorites? And who will struggle?
To answer that question, we’re ranking all 32 teams at the 2023 Women’s World Cup. We’ve separated teams into tiers:
- Facing an Uphill Battle: These teams will have a tough time getting out of their groups.
- Pushing for the Knockout Rounds: These teams can break into the Round of 16.
- Could Make a Run: These teams could pull off a deep run…if everything goes right.
- Outside Title Chance: These teams aren’t favorites, but they have enough talent to push for a trophy.
- True Contenders: These teams won’t surprise anyone.
Now that we have our tiers, let’s get to the rankings.
Facing an Uphill Battle
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32. Panama, Group F
No team wants the distinction of being last on this list, but Panama’s resume is weak coming into this tournament. They lost to Costa Rica (also in this tier) 3-0 at the CONCACAF W Championship last summer and is stuck in the extremely difficult Group F with Brazil, France, and Jamaica.
31. Vietnam, Group E
Vietnam will be making its World Cup debut this summer. They lost 2-0 to New Zealand in a tune-up friendly on July 9, which isn’t a terrible scoreline on its face. However, the newcomers were outshot 27 to 2. A narrow 2-1 loss to Germany last month should provide hope for Vietnam ahead of this World Cup, though.
30. Philippines, Group A
Group A is one of the easier groups in this tournament, but that doesn’t mean things will be easy for the Philippines. Expect them to play direct and compress as much space as possible without the ball to give them the best chance to move forward.
29. Morocco, Group H
One of the lowest FIFA-ranked teams making the trip to Australia and New Zealand, Morocco is headed to its first Women’s World Cup. Morocco made it all the way to the final of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations last year, but they will face a much tougher task at this tournament.
28. Costa Rica, Group C
There’s still a massive gap in CONCACAF between the United States and Canada and teams like Costa Rica in the rest of the region. Costa Rica won’t see much of the ball at this World Cup, but when they do have possession, they’ll struggle to create chances.
27. South Africa, Group G
As the reigning African champions, South Africa has proved their ability to navigate a knockout tournament. Still, they lack top-end talent, with only seven players plying their trade outside of South Africa.
26. Haiti, Group D
In 19-year-old attacking midfielder Melchie Dumornay, Haiti might just have the best young player in the world on their side. She finished with 16 combined goals and assists last year for Stade de Reims in the French top division and is headed to Lyon next season, which is a verified sign of stardom. Still, Haiti are vulnerable in the back, which could be their undoing.
25. Jamaica, Group F
Like Haiti, Jamaica has a truly elite attacker: Manchester City striker Bunny Shaw, who finished with 20 goals and seven assists last season in England. All of Jamaica’s attacking play is built to support Shaw and create a platform for her to thrive in the final third. Unfortunately for Jamaica, Shaw won’t be enough on her own to cause consistent problems for their opponents at this tournament.
24. New Zealand, Group A
Despite being one of the two hosts, getting out of Group A will be a huge challenge for New Zealand. They’re 26th in the FIFA rankings, and their only win in nine games this year came against Vietnam.
Pushing for the Knockout Rounds
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23. Argentina, Group G
Argentina is heading into its fourth World Cup but is clearly the third-best team in CONMEBOL right now behind Brazil and Colombia. If Argentina can get a result against Italy in the first group-stage game, though, a top-two spot in Group G isn’t out of reach.
22. Nigeria, Group B
After a disappointing fourth-place finish at the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations, Nigeria’s recent friendly results show them getting back on track. It’s unlikely but not impossible for them to pose an upset and break out of Group B.
21. Zambia, Group C
Things could go one of two ways for Zambia at this World Cup: Their elite group of attackers—headlined by Barbra Banda—could lead them to big wins like their recent 3-2 takedown of Germany, or their lack of defensive quality could doom them. They’ve given up at least two goals in each of their last five games against World Cup opposition.
20. Colombia, Group H
Colombia finished second at the Copa América Femenina last summer and have one of the young players to watch at this World Cup in 18-year-old Real Madrid attacker Linda Caicedo. It wouldn’t be a shock to see them in the knockout rounds.
19. South Korea, Group H
Two of those games where Zambia allowed more than two goals were against South Korea, who have had some strong results over the last year. They drew 0-0 with Canada in 2022 and have three straight wins over (admittedly somewhat weak) World Cup foes. There’s a Round of 16 spot up for grabs in Group H, so why shouldn’t that spot belong to South Korea?
18. Ireland, Group B
After the true giants, Ireland is squarely in Europe’s second tier of teams who can give basically anyone in the world a game on their best day. They lost twice to the U.S. in April, but only by a combined 3-0 scoreline.
17. Portugal, Group E
Don’t look now, but Portugal has inserted itself into the second tier of European teams, too. They drew against England 0-0 on July 1 despite being outshot 23 to 2, and they took the lead in an eventual 2-1 loss to Japan in April. Portugal isn’t a favorite to reach the knockout round in Group E, but never say never.
16. Switzerland, Group A
Switzerland’s form over the last year paints them as a middling World Cup side, drawing with Portugal, China, Zambia, and Morocco. Thanks to New Zealand’s presence as the Pot 1 team in Group A, Switzerland has a clear path to the knockout rounds.
15. China, Group D
China can’t hang with the best in the world, as losses to Sweden (4-1) and Spain (3-0) earlier this year demonstrate. Still, a solid defensive game plan out of a 4-4-2 shape could keep China in position to emerge from Group D.
Could Make a Run
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14. Italy, Group G
Italy, a team that values possession, has had some success recently using ball retention as a defensive asset. Goals haven’t been flying in, but that could change in an open Group G. Would a second-place finish in that group likely pit Italy against the United States? Absolutely. Is that a problem for later? Absolutely.
13. Denmark, Group D
Denmark doesn’t have as much top-end talent as some of the teams above them in these power rankings. Still, they do have a match-winner in Pernille Harder, and they’re coming into the World Cup after taking down both Sweden and Japan earlier this year. This team won’t be an easy out.
12. Netherlands, Group E
Even with star Vivianne Miedema sidelined by a torn ACL, the Netherlands should be feared. Daniëlle van de Donk can conduct from midfield with talented wingers and fullbacks racing forward around her. A run is very possible for the Dutch this summer.
11. Norway, Group A
If you want fun, Norway will be one of the teams to watch at this World Cup. In Barcelona winger Caroline Graham Hansen, Norway has maybe the best dribbler in the world. Still, the team’s aggressive play and attack-heavy style can leave them vulnerable in the back.
Outside Title Chance
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10. Canada, Group B
As the reigning Olympic champions, it feels like Canada should be higher on this list. Unfortunately, losses to the U.S., Japan, and France earlier this year and some disjointed play under manager Bev Priestman point to them belonging in this tier of teams with an outside shot rather than the inside track.
9. Japan, Group C
Japan isn’t short on talent, with impressive players like Manchester City midfielder Yui Hasegawa and Angel City flex player Jun Endo popping up in every line. At the SheBelieves Cup earlier this year, this team showed it can play with the best in the world.
8. Australia, Group B
Australia’s recipe for success at this competition is very clear: use legendary striker Sam Kerr as the attacking focal point, run speedy wide players around her, and defend in a compact 4-4-2 shape while feeding off the home crowd. If all of those things come together, Australia could cause real problems for even the more established contenders.
7. Brazil, Group F
Opponents should be afraid of Brazil this summer. The team’s mixture of playmaking through aging stars like Debinha and Marta and direct dribbling via Orlando’s Adriana and North Carolina’s Kerolin makes Brazil so difficult to stop.
6. Sweden, Group G
While Sweden never seems to get it over the line at the World Cup, there’s no denying the team’s ability. Barcelona’s Fridolina Rolfö is incredibly dynamic on the wing, and Arsenal’s Stina Blackstenius provides a scoring threat in central areas. Success isn’t guaranteed for Sweden, but it’s certainly attainable.
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5. England, Group D
After winning the Euros last summer, expectations are justifiably high for England at this World Cup. Unfortunately, they’ll be without captain Leah Williamson, star winger Beth Mead and No. 10 Fran Kirby. Manager Sarina Wiegman still has tons of quality to work with, but injuries move England to the bottom of this tier.
4. Spain, Group C
Spain’s ability to execute elite possession soccer at the international level is nothing short of amazing. Led by Barcelona star Alexia Putellas in midfield, Spain can play—and beat—any team in the world. This group has every chance of lifting the World Cup trophy.
3. France, Group F
France is stacked. Wendie Renard is the most dominant center back in the world, and the French midfield and forward lines are filled with game-changers. Expect a 4-3-3, plenty of downhill attacking play, and a lot of wins for France at this tournament.
2. Germany, Group H
Despite a couple of poor recent results, Germany is absolutely one of the favorites. Lena Oberdorf might be the best No. 6 in the world, and with high-level attackers finishing off plays in the final third, it’s easy to imagine them winning their third World Cup.
1. United States, Group E
The United States enters this World Cup looking for a three-peat. Led by Portland’s Sophia Smith, the U.S. have elite players at almost every position. Manager Vlatko Andonovski’s team thrives in transition and can punish a mistake in the blink of an eye. The United States also get to enjoy a favorable bracket this summer. If the U.S. top Group E, and England, France, and Germany all top their groups, the U.S. won’t meet any of those teams until the final.