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.
Below is a list of the five players to watch:
1. Alexia Putellas (Spain)
The 29-year-old attacking midfielder is considered by many to be the best women’s footballer in the world.
Despite missing the second half of the year due to a significant knee injury, she retained her title as The Best FIFA Women’s Player for 2022 in February, despite missing the previous two years due to the Women’s Ballon d’Or.
Barcelona’s Putellas is the first woman to reach 100 caps for Spain, and they missed her inventiveness and goals at the 2022 European Championship, where they were eliminated in the quarterfinals by eventual champions England.
Putellas was one of the Spanish players that demanded reform within the national team, although he did not join the 15 players who asked not to be called up last year due to disagreements with coach Jorge Vilda and the Spanish football association.
2. Sam Kerr (Australia)
If the co-hosts are to go far in the World Cup, Chelsea forward Kerr must be firing on all cylinders.
The Australia captain, 29, made her international debut at the age of 15 and has played over 120 times for her country, averaging a goal every other game. She scored five goals during the 2019 World Cup.
Her statistics at Chelsea are equally spectacular, with 29 goals in 38 games this season.
Kerr is such a household celebrity in Australia that she served as the country’s flag bearer at King Charles’ coronation.
3. Megan Rapinoe (United States)
She is the most recognizable player in women’s football and requires little introduction.
The attacker has made 199 appearances for the United States, scoring 63 goals and assisting on 73 others. She has twice won the World Cup. Rapinoe now plays for the OL Reign in the United States.
She will retire at the conclusion of this season and is a fading force at 38, but she is the face of women’s football for the casual spectator.
Off the pitch, the openly homosexual Rapinoe is a vocal advocate for LGBTQ rights and other concerns that go beyond sports.
4. Keira Walsh (England)
The injury loss of several important players has harmed England’s chances of winning the World Cup for the first time, putting even more pressure on midfielder Walsh.
Barcelona signed her from Manchester City last September for a reputed 400,000 pounds ($508,000), a world record for a female footballer.
Walsh’s passing, game reading, and ability to get the ball back helped Sarina Wiegman’s England win the Euro on home soil in 2022.
She was selected player of the match when England defeated Germany 2-1 in extra time in the final at Wembley Stadium.
5. Ada Hegerberg (Norway)
In 2018, she became the first woman to win the Women’s Ballon d’Or, and she is a prolific attacker for leading French club Lyon.
Her Norwegian career, on the other hand, has been sporadic. She retired from international competition in 2017, citing concerns over the Norwegian federation’s treatment of men’s and women’s teams. She returned only last year.
Injuries have also plagued the 28-year-old attacker.
When she’s in form and firing, she’s one of the top players in the world, averaging almost a goal per game for her club.
With 59 goals, she is the all-time leading scorer in the UEFA Women’s Champions League.