On July 20th, the ninth edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup commences in Australia and New Zealand with a formidable USA side predictably favourites in the betting to prevail.
England meanwhile will be hoping to go one better than four years ago and reach the final. As for the players, these five are odds-on to steal the show.
Lena Oberdorf (Germany)
It’s staggering that Oberdorf is still just 21, the Wolfsburg midfielder’s movement and intelligent controlling of a centre-circle reminiscent of a player ten years her senior.
An outstanding 2021/22 campaign in the Frauen-Bundesliga led into last summer’s Euros where Germany’s jewel completed more successful tackles than anyone and ultimately was awarded the Young Player of the Tournament.
Oberdorf is the engine of an excellently put together side and simply put, when she plays well, the DFB-Frauenteam are a scary proposition and could defy opposing Women's World Cup predictions.
Lauren James (England)
With Beth Mead recovering from injury so much creative responsibility falls on James. Thankfully, the tricky winger is well up to the task, as illustrated by two brilliant displays for England in their recent Arnold Clark success.
Bro, who is this Lauren James 😳😳😳 pic.twitter.com/x5K0Xx6oih— Alabi (@the_Lawrenz) March 13, 2023
All season long for Chelsea, the 21-year-old has tormented full-backs, her strong physique and nimble skills proving to be an unstoppable combination. Crucially too, the younger sister of Reece James has an eye for goal.
There is every chance that by the end of this summer, a nation will be under her spell, and Reece will be commonly referred to as Lauren’s big brother.
Guro Reiten (Norway)
Forging a devastating partnership with Sam Kerr, two of the best WSL stars in action at the tournament this summer, the Norwegian winger contributed 11 assists in 2022/23 as Chelsea romped to a double.
And after somewhat underwhelming at Euro 2022, the feeling is that this is Reiten’s time to shine, in sublime form as she is.
Which is a worrying prospect for Norway’s group A opponents because on her day the 28-year-old is a real difference-maker, capable of throwing the live betting into disarray with an accurate low cross that is, more times than not, served on a proverbial plate.
Aitana Bonmati (Spain)
Already a superstar on the world stage, the 25-year-old midfielder heads Down Under having once again swept the board with Barcelona Femeni, and once again been the driving force behind their remarkable success.
Fourteen goals and 17 assists from her central berth is impressive in itself but stats don’t do justice to Bonmati’s pass mastery and elegant dictating of play.
Should she transfer her club form to the World Cup a deserved Ballon d’Or is a cert.
Hayley Raso (Australia)
The home nation’s hopes are admittedly slim but would be infinitely simmer if not for their quick and direct winger, a player who is presently without a club having left Manchester City last month.
There will be no shortage of takers of course for a talent still in her prime and in addition to her considerable attributes, a new employer will also be bringing in someone blessed with admirable mental strength.
Succumbing to a terrible back injury in 2018 while playing for Portland Thorns, it was suspected that Raso would not be able to walk again. Six months later she returned to training.