Five players to watch at FIFA Women's World Cup | Inquirer Sports

Five players to watch at FIFA Women’s World Cup

/ 06:00 PM July 17, 2023

The top women’s footballers on the planet will be in action when the World Cup kicks off on Thursday in Australia and New Zealand.

AFP Sport picks out five players to watch:

Alexia Putellas (Spain)

Alexia Putellas

Spain and Barcelona forward Alexia Putellas poses on stage after receiving the Best FIFA Women’s Player award during the Best FIFA Football Awards 2022 ceremony in Paris on February 27, 2023. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

The 29-year-old attacking midfielder is considered by many to be the best women’s footballer in the world.


Winner of the Women’s Ballon d’Or in each of the last two years, in February she retained her crown as The Best FIFA’s Women’s Player for 2022, despite missing the second half of the year with a serious knee injury.


Barcelona star Putellas is the first woman to reach 100 caps for Spain and they badly missed her creativity and goals at the 2022 European Championship, where they lost to eventual champions England in the quarter-finals.

Putellas was among the Spanish players demanding change within the national side, but did not join in with 15 players who last year asked not to be called up, amid differences with coach Jorge Vilda and the Spanish football federation.

Sam Kerr (Australia)

Sam Kerr

Australia’s soccer captain Sam Kerr answers questions during a press conference in Melbourne on July 3, 2023 after Australia named their squad for the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 football tournament to be held in Australia and New Zealand. (Photo by William WEST / AFP)

If the co-hosts are to go far at the World Cup they will need Chelsea forward Kerr firing on all cylinders.

The 29-year-old Australia skipper made her international debut aged just 15 and has played over 120 times for her country, averaging a goal every other game. She scored five times at the 2019 World Cup.

Her numbers are just as impressive at Chelsea, hitting 29 goals in 38 appearances this season.

Kerr is such a big name at home that she was Australia’s flag-bearer at the coronation of King Charles.


Megan Rapinoe (United States)

Soccer: USWNT World Cup Media Day

FILE PHOTO: Jun 27, 2023; Carson, California, USA; USWNT forward Megan Rapinoe during Women’s World Cup media day at Dignity Health Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

She needs little introduction as the most instantly recognizable player in women’s football.

The attacker has played 199 times for the United States, scoring 63 goals and making 73 assists. She has won the World Cup twice. Now Rapinoe plays in the United States for OL Reign.

She is set for retirement at the end of this season and is something of a fading force at 38, but she remains the face of women’s football for the casual fan.

Off the field, the openly gay Rapinoe is outspoken on a number of issues that go beyond sport, including advocating for LGBTQ rights.

Keira Walsh (England)

Keira Walsh

(FILES) Barcelona’s British midfielder Keira Walsh controls the ball during the UEFA Women’s Champions League final football match between FC Barcelona and Wolfsburg in Philips Stadium, in Eindhoven, on June 3, 2023. (Photo by JOHN THYS / AFP)

England’s hopes of winning the World Cup for the first time have taken a hit with the injury loss of several key players, putting even more onus on midfielder Walsh.

Barcelona snapped her up from Manchester City for a reported 400,000 pounds ($508,000) last September, a world record for a woman footballer.

With her passing, reading of the game and ability to win the ball back, Walsh was instrumental in Sarina Wiegman’s England winning the Euro on home soil in 2022.

She was named player of the match when England defeated Germany 2-1 in the final at Wembley in extra time.

Ada Hegerberg (Norway)

Ada Hegerberg

Lyon’s Norwegian striker Ada Hegerberg kisses the ball before scoring her penalty in the shoot-out during the UEFA Women’s Champions League quarterfinal second leg football match between Chelsea and Lyon at Stamford Bridge, in London, on March 30, 2023. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)

The Norwegian was the first winner of the Women’s Ballon d’Or, in 2018, and is a prolific striker with leading French side Lyon.

Her Norway career has been stop-start, however. She withdrew from the international scene in 2017, citing concerns over the inequality of treatment given to men’s and women’s teams by the Norwegian federation. She only returned last year.

The 28-year-old forward has also been dogged by injuries.

But when on form and firing she is one of the best players in the world, and averages more than a goal a game for her club.

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She is the all-time top scorer in the UEFA Women’s Champions League with 59 goals.


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