From England's Lucy Bronze to Brazil's Marta, here are some the best players in the world that will be on show in France over the next month.
Lucy Bronze – England
Tough is Lucy Bronze’s middle name. It’s a fitting one, too.
Bronze has already had to fight her way back from a potentially career-ending knee injury, sustained on her first day of training with England U19s 10 years ago, which required four separate surgeries.
Now, the 27-year-old right back is widely regarded as one of the women’s game’s leading players.
“I’ve said it from day one, she’s without doubt the best player in the world,” said England manager Phil Neville in the England’s World Cup Lionesses BBC documentary.
“Anywhere you play that girl on the pitch, she can be the best.”
She left Manchester City two seasons ago on the back of a domestic treble and moved to Lyon, where she has won back-to-back Champions League and French league titles, plus the 2019 French Cup.
She has twice been named PFA Players’ Player of the year, in 2014 and 2017, and won BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year in 2018.
Bronze is one of 12 current squad members that helped England to a third-place finish in the 2015 World Cup, scoring in last-16 and quarter-final victories over Norway and Canada respectively.
She was also a semi-finalist at Euro 2017 with the Lionesses and played every game as England won the SheBelieves Cup in March this year.
Alex Morgan – USA
Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Mark Zuckerberg, Michelle Obama, Alex Morgan.
These are just some of the names listed in Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2019.
The USWNT striker was one of just two footballers to make the list, along with Mohamed Salah, and it’s not hard to see why.
Morgan was named both US Soccer Athlete of the Year and CONCACAF Player of the Year in 2018, having netted 18 goals in 19 games for her country.
She has continued that form into this year and comes into the World Cup on 101 goals in 163 international appearances – a total that puts the 29-year-old equal-14th in the all-time highest goalscorer rankings.
Morgan is one of three co-captains for her country and carries with her the expectations of the defending World Cup champions and No. 1-ranked team.
Team USA won’t be far from a fourth world title if Morgan produces her best on the world’s biggest stage.
Sam Kerr – Australia
Sam Kerr only took up football after giving up Aussie rules at the age of 12, yet she made her debut for Australia just three years later.
Ten years on, she is set to be one of the stars in France.
The forward finished fifth in the 2018 Ballon d’Or in December and came third in the BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year 2019 in May.
She netted 13 goals for Perth Glory last season to win the Golden Boot and become the all-time leading goalscorer in the W-League with 70.
Kerr also tops the all-time charts in the NWSL – the USA’s top women’s league – with 55 goals at the age of just 25.
She played every game four years ago as Australia reached the quarter final before losing 1-0 to Japan and this will be her third World Cup, but her first as captain.
Given her goalscoring exploits at club level, the Matildas can be confident of an impressive tournament.
Erin Cuthbert – Scotland
“You dream about players like this coming around – full of heart, desire, determination.”
That was Chelsea manager Emma Hayes’ appraisal of Erin Cuthbert after she scored a brace in a 2-1 victory over Arsenal in January – two of eight league goals the 20-year-old midfielder netted last season.
The energetic Scot was named in the 2018/19 WSL PFA Team of the Year and was nominated for the PFA Players’ Player of the Year after helping the Blues finish third.
She also bagged four goals in the Champions League as Chelsea made it all the way to the semi-finals, before losing 3-2 on aggregate to eventual winners Lyon.
Cuthbert has transferred that form to international level and hammered her country level in a 3-2 victory over Jamaica in a World Cup warm-up friendly at Hampden Park in May.
If Scotland are to get out of the group in their first ever World Cup, they will need to see more of that in France.
Marta – Brazil.
110 goals in 133 international appearances. Six FIFA World Player of the Year awards. One World Cup Golden Boot. It is no wonder that many view Brazil star Marta as the best female player of all time.
Nicknamed “Pele in a skirt” by Pele himself, the 32-year-old is a prolific striker who has achieved just about everything possible in football – apart from a World Cup win.
Marta, remarkably, will be appearing at a fifth World Cup this summer, having made her debut in the competition at just 17 years old in 2003.
She is also the top scorer in World Cup history with 15 goals and is likely to add to that tally in France, despite a thigh injury hampering her build-up to the tournament.
Vivianne Miedema – Netherlands
It is not often that a footballer has earned 75 international caps by the age of 22, but Vivianne Miedema is no average player.
The Netherlands striker is one of the most prolific in Europe, netting 139 goals in 161 career club appearances, while adding 58 on the international stage – so far.
The young forward helped the Netherlands to their first European Championship title in 2017 with four tournament goals, including a semi-final winner and a brace in the final.
Despite failing to score as the Netherlands were eliminated in the round of 16 during the last World Cup, Miedema looks set for a big tournament this time round after scoring a record 22 goals for WSL champions Arsenal in 2018/19.
Having modelled her game on idol Robin van Persie, the two-footed Miedema has also drawn comparisons to Arjen Robben over the course of her career.
Ji So-Yun – South Korea
South Korea are playing at just their third World Cup this summer and many will pin their slim hopes on one player: Ji So Yun.
The 28-year-old is her country’s all-time top scorer with 54 goals in 115 appearances, having made her international debut at just 15 years old.
Ji has played in the WSL with Chelsea since 2014, with club boss Emma Hayes describing her as “one of the best midfielders in the world”.
The number 10 was named in the PFA Team of the Year for the fourth time this season, and will need to carry that form into the tournament if South Korea are to improve on their round-of-16 exit in 2015.
Wang Shuang – China
Once a superpower of the game, China have failed to get past the quarter-finals at a World Cup since losing the 1999 final on penalties.
But Paris Saint-Germain star Wang Shuang is talented enough to improve that record this summer.
The 24-year-old midfielder, who was named AFC Player of the Year in 2018, already has 94 caps for China and will spearhead their campaign in France.
Wang has just completed her first season in European football after joining PSG, scoring seven goals and supplying eight assists in 18 appearances while also becoming the first Chinese player to score in the Champions League.
Known as the “Lady Messi” back home, Wang’s close control, slick dribbling and lethal shot do evoke images of the Argentina star.
And, like Messi, she will have to carry the hopes of a nation on her shoulders this summer as China aim to overachieve and win a first World Cup.
West Ham at the World Cup
Jane Ross – Scotland
Ross was West Ham’s top scorer this season, netting 11 goals in all competitions with seven of those coming in the WSL.
The 29-year-old is Scotland’s second-highest scorer of all time, with 58 goals in 127 international appearances.
Adriana Leon – Canada
Canada star Leon joined the Hammers in the winter transfer window, going on to score three goals in ten games for the club this term.
The forward has made 57 appearances for her country since her debut in 2012, netting 15 times.
Cho So-Hyun – South Korea
Cho may sometimes be overshadowed by Chelsea star Ji (see above), but she will be just as important for South Korea at the upcoming World Cup.
The Hammers midfielder has 120 international caps – the most ever for South Korea – and will also captain her country in France.
Ria Percival – New Zealand
Like Hammers teammate Cho, Percival is also her country’s most-capped player, with the right-back turning out 141 times for New Zealand so far.
The 29-year-old will be appearing at her fourth World Cup for the Football Ferns, who have never got past the group stage.
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