Monday 10 June 2019, 06:09

Contenders ready as holders begin their defence

  • USA heavy favourites in France 2019 opener against Thailand

  • New Zealand, the Netherlands, Sweden and debutantes Chile also in action

  • THE LATEST: #NZLNED, #CHISWE and #USATHA Live Blogs updating now

USA, the reigning champions and most successful team in FIFA Women’s World Cup™ history, begin their France 2019 campaign on Tuesday.

Thailand will be aiming to frustrate the holders, while debutantes Chile and New Zealand are on the hunt for upsets of their own against Sweden and the Netherlands respectively.

New Zealand-Netherlands, Group E, Le Havre, 15:00

Team reporter analysis

Brendan Bradford (NZL) The Football Ferns face a tough opening assignment against the Netherlands but are well placed to make a positive start to the tournament. Coach Tom Sermanni has introduced a more confident and optimistic approach to the game and there’s a good mix of youth and experience as the New Zealanders look to advance to the knockout stages for the first time.

Emma Coolen (NED) After winning their send-off game against Australia 3-0, the Oranjeleeuwinnen travelled to France in high spirits. Kika van Es remains a doubt for the game against New Zealand as she recovers from a hand fracture. Definitely out is Anouk Dekker, who is serving a suspension after picking up a red card in the team's final France 2019 qualifier. But considering the wealth of experience in the current squad, finding a suitable replacement shouldn't be a problem.

Chile-Sweden, Group F, Rennes, 18:00

Team reporter analysis

Cecelia Lagos (CHI) Emotions are running high as La Roja prepare to make history in their first ever FIFA Women's World Cup™ match. In order to improve themselves, they’ve played against top level teams around the world over the past 12 months. The results say the gap is still significant but Chile remain confident that they can compete as equals and surprise us all on their debut.

Alexandra Jonson (SWE) Sweden enters the tournament with a well balanced mix of veterans who several tournaments behind them, and youngsters excited to play in their first World Cup. They have high hopes and big dreams, especially having showed in the build-up to France 2019 that they can challenge higher-ranked teams. The Swedes will be favourites against Chile and go into the game brimming with confidence.

USA-Thailand, Group F, Reims, 21:00

Team reporter analysis

Erin Fish (USA) The reigning champions enter the opening match against Thailand looking to make a strong start to their title defence. Landing in Group F ensured that USA would be one of the last teams to get out on the pitch in France, and that has caused pressure to build. But pressure is something every player on this team thrives on and, with a broad mix of veterans and youth, the USWNT is as ready as ever.

Piyapat Saropala (THA) Thailand begin their second FIFA Women’s World Cup™ campaign against the holders, which is as tough a job as it gets. Nevertheless, the team atmosphere is very positive ahead of this massive test and the players are confident that they have prepared well. This exciting opening game is one to savour for Thailand.

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