Sophia Smith stands as the lone U.S. women’s national team player among the 30 nominees for the 2023 Ballon d’Or Féminin.

The Portland Thorns star led the NWSL and the USWNT in goals in 2022, with 18 for her club team and 11 for her country. The NWSL MVP also helped lead her team to the 2022 championship. While the 23-year-old is dealing with a post-World Cup knee injury, she again leads the NWSL Golden Boot race with 11 goals.

No other USWNT player made the long list for the prestigious award, presented by “France Football” magazine. And just one other NWSL player — Brazil and Kansas City Current forward Debinha — made the cut.

Among professional leagues, England’s Women’s Super League led the way with 12 players, followed by Spain’s Liga F with 10. Germany’s Frauen-Bundesliga followed with four, and then the NWSL and France’s Division 1 Féminine with two. Among club teams, Spain’s FC Barcelona led the way with six.

Spain (6) and England (4) were the only national teams with more than two players on the list.

Spain’s contingent included Aitana Bonmatí, who won the World Cup Golden Ball, and Olga Carmona, who scored the game-winning goal against England in the tournament final. England’s nominees included captain Millie Bright and goalkeeper Mary Earps.

One notable name not on the list: Spain’s Alexia Putellas, who won the trophy in 2021 and 2022. The 29-year-old spent most of the last year recovering from an ACL tear, though she did return for Spain at the World Cup. England’s Beth Mead, who finished in second place, did not make the list either due to her own ACL tear last November.

Just Women’s Sports is here with your daily World Cup Digest, breaking down all of the biggest storylines from each day of action in Australia and New Zealand.

Today’s top World Cup news: Knockout bracket set after Germany’s shock elimination

Another powerhouse is out of the World Cup as Germany was eliminated in the group stage for the first time. A 1-1 draw with South Korea, coupled with Morocco’s 1-0 win against Colombia, sealed Germany’s fate.

Cho So-hyun got South Korea on the board early with a goal in the sixth minute. Germany responded with a goal from Alexandra Popp in the 42nd minute but failed to add to that total despite managing 14 shots, including four on target.

Germany held possession for 71% of the match, more than doubling South Korea on passes and completing 77% of their attempts. Despite the Germans’ dominance in the attacking territory, they failed to convert, including on a would-be goal from Popp in the 56th minute disallowed due to an offside call.

With the surprise exit, Germany joins Brazil as pre-tournament favorites who will not advance to the knockout rounds. The bracket for the Round of 16 is set, with either Colombia or Jamaica sure to reach the quarterfinals for the first time ever. And while the USWNT faces a tough test in Sweden, Germany’s exit proves that this World Cup is impossible to predict.

Today’s top highlight: Morocco reacts to knockout round berth

After a 1-0 win against Colombia, Morocco still needed the other Group H match between Germany and South Korea game to go its way in order to advance.

Huddled on the field after their match had ended, Moroccan players watched as the time ticked down on Germany’s World Cup run, sending them to the Round of 16. And their reaction is something you’ll want to watch on repeat.

Today’s results:

  • Morocco 1, Colombia 0
  • South Korea 1, Germany 1

More World Cup news to know:

  • USWNT captain Lindsey Horan pushed back on the negative commentary from Carli Lloyd. “It’s noise and, again, it’s an opinion and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. … For anyone to question our mentality hurts a little bit but at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter. I don’t really care. It’s what’s going inside of the team and getting ready for that next game.”
  • South Africa’s Thembi Kgatlana revealed that she has lost three family members in the span of the World Cup run. After scoring the game winner to send the Banyana Banyana into the knockout stages, she said that while she “could have gone home” she “chose to stay with my girls because I know how much it means.”
  • Pia Sundhage’s future with Brazil is up in the air, ESPN Brasil reported. While her contract runs through next year, she may not be with the team through the Paris Olympics in 2024. This tournament marks the first time since 1995 that Brazil did not reach the knockout rounds.
  • Spain forward Jenni Hermoso called on her country for support while also calling out the criticism the team has faced. “I think there are people waiting for Spain to slip up, I do think that. … We know people are waiting for us to fail. For all we have tried to fight to be here and to go as far as possible, there are people that are happy when we don’t get good results.”

Every team at the 2023 World Cup has now played their first group stage match, with a number of fun surprises and close matchups underlining the competitive nature of this year’s tournament.

With no 13-0-style blowouts in sight, players from across the globe had to step up their games to ensure three points for their teams. In a strong first week for World Cup debuts, players participating in their first major international tournaments are quickly making their mark on the competition.

Here are a few of the top performers from the first round of the group stage who might be the key to their squads going all the way.

Ary Borges, Brazil

Borges, a star forward for Racing Louisville in the NWSL, kicked off Brazil’s World Cup campaign with a bang against Panama. The 23-year-old scored a hat trick in her first career World Cup start, leading the way as Brazil cruised to a 5-0 win. The forward also notched an assist, contributing to four of Brazil’s five goals.

Brazil’s next generation is eager to win the country’s first Women’s World Cup title in honor of the legacy of players like Marta and Formiga, and Borges is one of those players who has been building toward this moment. She connects well with World Cup talent in Louisville, such as the USWNT’s Savannah DeMelo and China’s Wang Shuang. She’s scored two goals in all NWSL competitions so far in 2023, but her introduction to the world stage could not be denied.

Sophia Smith, United States

Going into this World Cup, the USWNT’s hopes for a three-peat placed a lot of pressure on 22-year-old Sophia Smith, the reigning NWSL MVP. If Smith felt the pressure in first major international tournament, she didn’t show it as she contributed to all three of the USWNT’s goals against Vietnam.

With the USWNT, Smith is tasked with being more versatile from her winger position, something that has not slowed down her scoring output. She’ll be relied upon once again in the reigning World Cup champions’ next group stage match against the Netherlands on Wednesday night. A win would put the USWNT in control of their own destiny in Group E.

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Alexandra Popp scored a brace for Germany in their opener after missing last year's Euros final. (Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Alexandra Popp, Germany

At the age of 32, Alexandra Popp is playing some of the best soccer of her career, just in time for Germany’s chance to lift the World Cup trophy for the third time. Playing in her fourth World Cup, Popp is Germany’s imposing target striker, scoring with her head as well as her feet. She made her presence felt with a brace in Germany’s 6-0 opening win over Morocco, the biggest margin of victory in the World Cup thus far.

When Germany made a surprise run to the European Championship final in 2022, Popp missed the eventual loss to England due to injury. Her form has not waned in the year since then, with the forward scoring a goal for her club, Wolfsburg, in the 2023 Champions League final. Popp’s presence on the field at this World Cup could be the difference-maker that puts Germany over the top.

Linda Caicedo, Colombia

The 2023 World Cup is 18–year-old Linda Caicedo’s third in the past year: She starred at both the U-17 and U-20 World Cups before taking the 2022 Copa America Femenil by storm with Colombia’s senior team. In her senior World Cup debut against South Korea, she looked like the most technically advanced player on the field, controlling play and notching her first senior World Cup goal to put the game out of reach.

Caicedo is just getting started, signing with Real Madrid earlier this year to take her game to the next level. She’ll need to step up even more in Colombia’s next two games, as her team aims to make it out of Group F alongside Germany. Colombia is making its return to the world stage after missing the tournament in 2019, but with Caicedo leading the way, they won’t stay under the radar for long.

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Angel City's Jun Endo is off to a hot start for Japan at the World Cup. (Saeed Khan/AFP via Getty Images)

Jun Endo, Japan

The vision for Japan’s rebuild materialized in their opening 5-0 victory over Zambia, not least due to the contributions of World Cup debutante Jun Endo. A force with Angel City FC in the NWSL, Endo gave Zambia’s defenders very little time to compose themselves, often getting to the endline and cutting in centrally to generate an overwhelming pace of attack.

Endo finished the match with a goal and an assist, as well as a number of good chances called back for marginal offsides. But what sets the winger apart is her ability to control the tempo of the match while still executing with the perfect timing to find her teammates in space. All the more impressive is that the performance came after Endo suffered a knee injury at the club level, briefly putting her World Cup dreams in doubt. The 23-year-old brings an edge that her teammates feed off of, and that energy could lead Japan — who also defeated Costa Rica 2-0 on Wednesday — all the way to the final.

Melchie Dumornay, Haiti

Haiti has a difficult task ahead of them to get out of their group, after a slim 1-0 loss to England in their tournament opener, but they still have a global star on their hands. Nineteen-year-old Melchie Dumornay looked like the generational talent she’s been heralded as in the game against the reigning European champions. The new Olympique Lyon signing came into the tournament as one of the breakout stars of Concacaf W qualifying in 2022, and she raised her game to a new level on the biggest stage.

With Haiti as heavy underdogs, Dumornay needed to not only generate attack, but also retain as much possession as possible to relieve pressure on the defense behind her. Her constant motor is an underrated facet of her game, allowing her to push back into Haiti’s defensive midfield and defense to get the ball, and then evade defenders with her dribbling as she progresses into the attacking third.

Haiti will have to get through Denmark for a shot at extending their stay at their first World Cup, but with Dumornay on the field, anything is possible.

Claire Watkins is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @ScoutRipley.

Just Women’s Sports is here with your daily World Cup Digest, breaking down all of the biggest storylines from each day of action in Australia and New Zealand.

Today’s top World Cup news: Germany and Brazil impress with emphatic wins

Despite some surprising results and close calls over the first few days, Germany and Brazil looked every bit the favorites in their opening wins.

An Ary Borges hat trick for Brazil and Alexandra Popp brace for Germany headlined the final day of the first round of group-stage games.

Popp, Germany’s captain, opened the scoring for her team, then netted another just before the half. Klara Bühl and Lea Schüller also found the back of the next for Germany, which also benefited from two own goals by Morocco in a 6-0 win.

Germany managed the lopsided scoreline even without star player Lena Oberdorf, who missed the match with a thigh strain. The 21-year-old should be back soon, but her team proved it can do just fine without her. Germany next will face Colombia, which is gearing up to play its opening match against South Korea.

Meanwhile, Brazil put on a clinic against Panama, with Ary Borges netting a hat trick in her World Cup debut. She also added an assist on a goal by Bia Zaneratto. Brazil looked every bit a World Cup contender, with style and chemistry that had not yet been seen in this year’s tournament.

Brazil dominated possession, holding the ball for 73% of the match, and posted 10 shots on goal compared to two for Panama. The Seleçãos next will play France and undoubtedly will enter as the favorite.

Today’s top highlight: Ary Borges gives up hat trick

While Borges later would net the first hat trick of this year’s World Cup, she gave up her first opportunity, instead passing the ball to teammate Bia Zaneratto. Still, the backheel flick from the Racing Louisville midfielder was a highlight in and of itself.

Borges later secured the hat trick with a nutmeg header, which went between the goalkeeper’s legs. What a coming out party for the 23-year-old at the World Cup.

Today’s results:

  • Italy 1, Argentina 0
  • Germany 6, Morocco 0
  • Brazil 4, Panama 0
  • Colombia vs. South Korea — 10 p.m. ET

More World Cup news to know:

The 2023 World Cup is almost here, and all 32 teams — from Argentina to Zambia — have released the 23-player rosters for the tournament in Australia and New Zealand.

A number of big-name players will be missing after a rash of ACL injuries hit women’s soccer, among them the USWNT’s Catarina Macario, France’s Marie-Antoinette Katoto, the Netherlands’ Vivianne Miedema and England’s Beth Mead and Leah Williamson. But plenty of stars will have their chance to shine, from Australia’s Sam Kerr in her home tournament to Brazil’s Marta in her sixth and final World Cup.

Just Women’s Sports has a complete breakdown of all 32 rosters.

USWNT

Manager: Vlatko Andonovski
Key players: Naomi Girma, Sophia Smith, Alex Morgan, Julie Ertz, Crystal Dunn

The USWNT roster, announced on June 21, features some surprises and a plethora of newbies. Sophia Smith and Lynn Williams enter as the team’s two hottest forwards on a line anchored by veteran Alex Morgan. The back line will be missing Becky Sauerbrunn, leaving Naomi Girma to be the team’s defensive centerpiece in her first World Cup.

Link to full roster.

Argentina

Manager: Germán Portanova
Key players: Vanina Correa, Sophia Braun, Estefanía Banini, Paulina Gramaglia

Argentina will make its fourth World Cup appearance. The men’s team had a successful 2022, winning a World Cup title. The women’s team will be looking to advance to the knockout stage for the first time.

“It is a big inspiration, but the expectation is not the same,” striker Paulina Gramaglia told the Associated Press, comparing the objectives of Argentina’s men’s and women’s teams. “We don’t have the same foundation that they have, we are not seeking to win the trophy. We have our own goals and our context.”

Link to full roster.

Australia

Manager: Tony Gustavsson
Key players: Sam Kerr, Ellie Carpenter, Caitlin Foord, Emily Van Egmond

World Cup co-host Australia named its final 23-player roster on July 3, led by all-time leading scorer Sam Kerr. The 29-year-old forward has scored 63 goals through 120 appearances for the Matildas.

The roster features a mix of veteran and youth experience, with Clare Polkinghorne the most-capped player at 156 appearances. Clare Hunt is the only player with less than 10 caps, as Australia opted for more experience in their home World Cup.

Link to full roster.

Brazil

Manager: Pia Sundhage
Key players: Marta, Kerolin, Debinha, Andressa Alves

Superstar Marta has been included on Brazil’s World Cup roster, overcoming a left knee injury that she continues to rehab. A six-time world player of the year, she’s been to five World Cup tournaments — and scored in all five of them. She’s the first player to do so, and could make it six this time around. Marta has said this will be her last World Cup.

She’s joined by Kerolin, who has been on a tear to open up the NWSL season, as well as Debinha and Andressa Alves. There are a number of newcomers, with 11 of Brazil’s 23 players having never played in a World Cup. Star striker Cristiane, who has 11 World Cup goals, was not called up.

Link to full roster.

Canada

Manager: Bev Priestman
Key players: Christine Sinclair, Kailen Sheridan, Vanessa Gilles, Jordyn Huitema, Sophie Schmidt

Defending Olympic gold medalist Canada is led by captain and all-time leading international goal scorer Christine Sinclair. The team has had a tough start to the year, having threatened a boycott of Soccer Canada due to funding issues and pay disparity. While an interim deal was reached, the issues remain.

Canada also will be without one of its stars in Janine Beckie, who tore her ACL in March during an NWSL preseason game. But they’ve got Kailen Sheridan in net and a number of threats that place them among the contenders to win the World Cup.

Link to provisional roster. Final roster is set to be announced July 9.

China

Manager: Shui Qingxia

Key players: Wang Shuang, Shen Mengyu, Wu Chengshu, Wu Haiyan

China is let by captain Wu Haiyan into this year’s World Cup. They’ve played in every single World Cup but one, and haven’t not made it out of their group each time. They also finished runners-up in 1999 to the USWNT.

In 2019, they finished in the Round of 16, their worst-ever finish, and have had a rough go of it lately, losing 3-0 to Spain back in an April friendly.

Link to full roster.

Colombia

Manager: Nelson Abadía
Key players: Linda Caicedo, Daniela Montoya, Catalina Usme

Colombia is led by captain Daniela Montoya and leading-scorer Catalina Usme into the 2023 tournament. This will be their third World Cup appearance, which includes a Round of 16 finish in 2015.

Link to full roster.

Costa Rica

Manager: Amelia Valverde
Key players: Raquel Rodríguez, Lixy Rodríguez, Priscila Chinchilla

Costa Rica announced its provisional roster on June 7, although as head coach Amelia Valverde said, it’s not a definitive list. She is willing to call other players into camp if necessary. This will be Costa Rica’s second World Cup appearance after the squad made its first in 2015.

The roster is headlined by Raquel Rodríguez, who plays for the NWSL’s Portland Thorns. Rodríguez is Costa Rica’s leading goal scorer with 55 goals in 100 international caps.

Link to provisional roster.  The final 23-player roster is expected at the beginning of July.

Denmark

Manager: Lars Søndergaard
Key players: Signe Bruun, Sofie Junge Pedersen, Pernille Harder, Sanne Troelsgaard Nielsen

Denmark is led by captain and all-time leading scorer Pernille Harder. Sanne Troelsgaard Nielsen, who is third all-time, was also named to the roster. Denmark is making its first World Cup appearance in 16 years, with its last coming in 2007.

The team is without Nadia Nadim due to injury but has newcomers who could make a splash, including Josefine Hasbo and Amalie Vangsgaard.

Link to full roster.

England

Manager: Sarina Wiegman
Key players: Lucy Bronze, Rachel Daly, Mary Earps, Millie Bright, Alessia Russo

One of the World Cup favorites, England in particular has been hobbled by injury, with Mead and Williamson both set to miss the World Cup with ACL tears. Fran Kirby will also miss the World Cup due to injury. In Williamson’s place, Bright has been named captain of England’s World Cup team.

Not all hope is lost for England, as Russo, Beth England and Daly have stepped up their scoring in 2023, which could fill the holes that Williamson and Mead will leave.

Link to full roster.

France

Manager: Hervé Renard
Key players: Wendie Renard, Kadidiatou Diani, Eugénie Le Sommer

On July 4, France named its final 23-player roster. Les Bleus have faced turmoil in recent months, with women’s national team coach Corinne Diacre fired due to a “fracture” in her relationship with players.

Marquee players, including Wendie Renard, Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Kadidiatou Diani, all said in February that they would not play with the national team until the team’s issues were resolved. Following the firing of Diacre and the hiring of Hervé Renard, Wendie Renard returned to the team. She and Diani are including on the provisional roster, as is top scorer Eugénie Le Sommer.

Katoto, though, will miss the World Cup with an ACL injury.

Link to full roster.

Germany

Manager: Martina Voss-Tecklenburg
Key players: Lena Oberdorf, Lina Magull, Alexandra Popp, Lea Schüller

Another World Cup favorite, Germany’s World Cup provisional roster features 20 of the 23 players that helped the team finish as runner-up at last year’s Euros tournament.  Giulia Gwinn and Linda Dallmann were not named to the roster due to injuries, while Almuth Schult is missing due to pregnancy.

Alexandra Popp, one of the team’s best players, will feature as captain and is also one of the top international scorers.

Link to provisional roster. The final 23-player roster will be announced later in June.

Haiti

Manager: Nicolas Delépine
Key players: Roselord Borgella, Batcheba Louis, Nérilia Mondésir, Kethna Louis

Haiti announced its preliminary roster on June 15, with just one player having over 20 international appearances. This is largely a roster with youth, including a number of American college athletes and French clubs.

Link to provisional roster.

Ireland

Manager: Vera Pauw
Key players: Katie McCabe, Denise O’Sullivan, Sinead Farrelly

Sinead Farrelly is among the ranks of the Girls in Green, joining Katie McCabe and Denise O’Sullivan on the roster.

Farrelly stepped away from the game in 2016 after experiencing sexual abuse at the hands of her coach. She made her return to the sport in 2023, playing for NJ/NY Gotham FC in the NWSL and making her first appearance for Ireland back in April.

Link to final roster.

Italy

Manager: Milena Bertolini
Key players: Cristiana Girelli, Barbara Bonansea, Elena Linari

Italy announced its 23-player squad on July 2, with a number of veteran and youth players. Two have no international appearances, while another pair have just one. But they’re joined by a number of veterans, including seven who have over 50 international appearances.

Link to full roster.

Jamaica

Manager: Lorne Donaldson
Key players: Khadija Shaw, Jody Brown, Allyson Swaby, Kiki Van Zanten

Jamaica’s World Cup squad features a number of professional and college stars. But the team has called out its national federation for its lack of support, and one of the players’ mothers has started a GoFundMe in order to get supplies and necessities for the World Cup.

Still, this is an exciting team, and one that could surprise in the group stages. Star forward Khadija “Bunny” Shaw is no stranger to scoring against some of the world’s best and has done so 56 times through 38 caps with Jamaica.

Link to full roster.

Japan

Manager: Futoshi Ikeda
Key players: Jun Endo, Maika Hamano, Yui Hasegawa, Hina Sugita

The last team to beat the USWNT at a World Cup, 2011 champion Japan announced its 23-player roster on June 13,  headlined by Yui Hasegawa.

“We will fight for the top spot with great ambition,” Japan coach Futoshi Ikeda said in Japanese. “But the level of (women’s) football in the world is improving very rapidly.”

Angel City FC forward Jun Endo made the team despite a recent knee injury. She scored in Japan’s 3-0 win against Canada in February at the SheBelieves Cup, but she saw plenty of room for growth in the losses to the USWNT and Brazil during the same tournament.

“We have to make every single game count and those mistakes can’t be happening,” she told The Athletic.

Notably, Mana Iwabuchi, who has played in three straight World Cups for Japan, was absent from the roster. Ikeda said he appreciated her “passion” but did not go into specifics on her omission.

Link to full roster.

Morocco

Manager: Reynald Pedros
Key players: Ghizlane Chebbak, Rosella Ayane, Fatima Tagnaout

Morocco named its 28-player preliminary roster on June 19. The team will make its World Cup debut this year, featuring in Group H alongside Colombia, Germany and South Korea. Led by captain and leading scorer Chizlane Chebbak, Morocco brings a mix of youth and veteran talent Down Under.

Link to provisional roster.

Netherlands

Manager: Andries Jonker
Key players: Lieke Martens, Jill Roord, Daniëlle van de Donk, Sherida Spitse, Stefanie van der Gragt

The runner-up from the 2019 World Cup, the Netherlands looks a little different this time around. Then-manager Sarina Wiegman now coaches for England, while star player and top scorer Vivianne Miedema will be out of the World Cup after tearing her ACL in December.

After a bit of turmoil over the past year, Andries Jonker has taken over as head coach and will face a tall task in a group that features the USWNT, who beat the Dutch squad in the 2019 championship match.

Link to full roster.

New Zealand

Manager: Jitka Klimková
Key players: Ali Riley, Hannah Wilkinson, Grace Jale, Annalie Longo

World Cup co-host New Zealand announced its 23-player roster, as well as three reserve players: Ava Collins, Meikayla Moore and Kate Taylor. Ali Riley leads the squad as captain, with Ria Percival — the Ferns’ most-capped player — as vice captain.

A total of 10 players will make their World Cup debut at home.

Link to full roster.

Nigeria

Manager: Randy Waldrum
Key players: Asisat Oshoala, Michelle Alozi, Onome Ebi

Nigeria brings a number of veterans but also a number of new faces with them Down Under.

Asisat Oshoala is one of the biggest stars on the squad, with 29 goals for the Super Falcons since her debut in 2013. There’s also a number of familiar faces for NWSL fans in Uchenna Kanu (Racing Louisville FC), Ifeoma Onumonu (Gotham FC) and Michelle Alozie (Houston Dash). This will be Nigeria’s first major tournament under head coach Randy Waldrum.

Link to full roster.

Norway

Manager: Hege Riise
Key players: Caroline Graham Hansen, Ada Hegerberg, Maren Mjelde

Norway’s 23-player roster is led by Ada Hegerberg and Caroline Graham Hansen. Maren Mjelde is the most-capped player on the squad, with 165 international appearances.

This will be Hegerberg’s first World Cup since 2015, as she stepped away from the national team in 2017 as a form of protest due to how the Norwegian Football Federation treated women’s soccer. As a result, she missed the 2019 World Cup. She ended her exile in March 2022, however, and will complete her comeback with her World Cup return.

Link to full roster.

Panama

Manager: Ignacio Quintana
Key players: Riley Tanner, Lineth Cedeño, Marta Cox

Panama will make its World Cup debut this year, going up against Brazil, France and Jamaica in Group F. The roster has limited international experience, with no players having more than 20 appearances. They’re led by Marta Cox and Lineth Cedeño, who are the team’s top scorers.

Link to full roster.

Philippines

Manager: Alen Stajcic
Key players: Hali Long, Quinley Quezada, Sarina Bolden

In total, 29 players were named to the provisional roster, including co-captains Hali Long and Tahnai Annis. Moving to No. 46 in the latest FIFA world rankings, it’s the highest-ever ranking that the Philippines has ever had.

The Filipinas are set to play against Switzerland, New Zealand and Norway in Group A. This will be their first World Cup appearance.

Link to provisional roster. The final roster will follow.

Portugal

Manager: Francisco Neto
Key players: Jéssica Silva, Carolina Mendes, Carole Costa, Diana Silva

Portugal is in its first-ever World Cup and will be playing in a tough group that features the Netherlands and the USWNT. But veteran presence mixed with some youth firepower could make Portugal a sneaky opponent in the group stage.

Link to full roster.

Spain

Manager: Jorge Vilda
Key players: Alexia Putellas, Aitana Bonmati, Irene Paredes, Jennifer Hermoso

Three of the 15 players who had refused to compete under coach Jorge Vilda starting last September have returned to the national team as part of the provisional World Cup roster for Spain. Aitana Bonmati, Mariona Caldentey and Ona Batlle have all been named to the 30-person squad.

Also returning is Alexia Putellas, who had been out with an ACL tear since last July. The two-time reigning Ballon d’Or winner returned to FC Barcelona in late April.

Sandra Paños, Mapi Leon and Patri Guijarro were among the 12 protesting players still absent from the squad. Some players do not believe enough has been done to address their complaints, ESPN reported.

Since the 15 players removed themselves from consideration last September, Spain has played nine matches, winning seven — including a 2-0 victory over the USWNT in October. Putellas, Irene Paredes and Jenni Hermoso had all voiced their support for the 15, although they never made themselves unavailable for selection; all three appear on the provisional roster.

Spain announced its final roster on June 30, with a number of youth talents, including Salma Paralluelo, who at 19 has five goals through six international appearances. In total, nine players have 10 caps or less.

Link to full roster.

South Africa

Manager: Desiree Ellis
Key players: Hildah Magaia, Sibulele Holweni, Linda Motlhalo, Noko Matlou

The 2022 Africa Women Cup of Nations champions are led by Desiree Ellis. Racing Louisville’s Thembi Kgatlana is the lone NWSL player on the squad.

A relatively young squad, a few university players are in the mix. Notably, former captain and most-capped player Janine van Wyk is absent from the provisional roster due to injury.

Link to full roster.

South Korea

Manager: Colin Bell
Key players: Cho So-hyun, Park Eun-sun, Ji So-yun, Lim Seon-joo

South Korea’s 23-player roster includes a number of veterans, but also its first American-born player in Casey Phair. She’s the first player of mixed heritage to represent South Korea on a national soccer team, and at 16 years old, also the youngest.

Both Ji So-yun and Cho So-hyun have 144 international appearances apiece, and have 66 and 25 international goals, respectively. They’re protected by goalkeeper Kim Jung-mi, who has 135 international appearances.

Link to full roster.

Sweden

Manager: Peter Gerhardsson
Key players: Magdalena Eriksson, Sofia Jakobsson, Nathalie Björn, Fridolina Rolfö

Young talents Matilda Vinberg and Rosa Kafaji were left off the Swedish roster, but Rebecka Blomqvist and Sofia Jakobsson made the cut. And Carolina Seger will play in her fifth World Cup despite struggling with knee injuries over the last year.

Captain Madgalena Eriksson will feature in her second World Cup and San Diego Wave FC’s Jakobsson in her fourth. Sweden finished in third place at the 2019 tournament.

Link to full roster.

Switzerland

Manager: Inka Grings
Key players: Noelle Maritz, Lia Wälti, Ana Maria Crnogorčević, Ramona Bachmann

Switzerland’s roster announcement may have been the best one yet, if not the best one period. Let by Lia Wälti, the squad boasts Ramona Bachmann from PSG and Ana Maria Crnogorčević from Barca as its leading scorers. Goalkeeper Gäelle Thalmann leads the squad in net.

16-year-old Iman Beney was selected to the squad, just three days after making her senior national team debut, but ruptured her ACL during training.

Link to full roster.

Vietnam

Manager: Mai Duc Chung
Key players: Phạm Hải Yến, Huỳnh Như, Nguyễn Thị Tuyết Dung

Vietnam called 28 players into camp as it prepares for its first World Cup appearance.

Captain Huỳnh Như leads the squad with 67 goals in 72 international appearances. She’s joined by Phạm Hải Yến, who has 39 goals in 66 appearances. The squad features a multitude of experience, with 14 of the 23 players having at least 25 international appearances. Of those 14, 11 have more than 30.

Link to full roster.

Zambia

Manager: Bruce Mwape
Key players: Barbra Banda, Agness Musesa, Grace Chanda

The Copper Queens will make their World Cup debut in 2023 after being one of the first women’s national soccer teams to form in Africa in 1983. Zambia is the first team from a landlocked nation in Africa to qualify for a senior World Cup, men’s or women’s.

Barba Banda has been a force for Zambia, with 22 goals in 10 international appearances, and will look to continue her success on the World Cup stage.

Link to full roster.

The UEFA Women’s Champions League on June 3 will pit two of the game’s brightest stars against one another in Barcelona’s Alexia Putellas and Wolfsburg’s Alexandra Popp.

Both made returns for their respective clubs in the last few days. Popp had missed several matches with an Achilles injury but came back to score for Wolfsburg in her team’s 3-2 win against Arsenal in Monday’s Champions League semifinal.

Putellas made her first appearance since tearing her ACL last July in Barca’s 3-0 win over Sporting Huelva, which clinched their fourth straight Liga F title. Her team already had clinched its spot in the Champions League final.

So what can fans expect from the title matchup?

When did these teams last play one another?

Barcelona and Wolfsburg last faced each other during the 2021-22 Champions League semifinals. Putellas and Barcelona won 5-3 on aggregate but lost to Olympique Lyonnais in the final.

Wolfsburg have made six Champions League final appearances, with their most recent coming in 2020. Only Lyon have made more appearances in the final, which makes this familiar territory for the German club. But Wolfsburg haven’t won the Champions League since 2014.

Barcelona, meanwhile, won the UWCL just two seasons ago, beating out English club Chelsea for the title in 2021.

Who are the players to watch for each side?

While Popp and Putellas will be in sharper form by the June final, several other players also should feature heavily in this matchup.

Asisat Oshoala has been dominant for Barcelona this season, leading the team with 20 goals through 24 matches – a suitable follow-up to last season, when she led the team with 20 goals through 19 matches.

Midfielder Aitana Bonmati has helped to fill the hole left by Putellas, providing goal-scoring, playmaking and leadership inside the middle third. She’s leading the Champions League in assists, with seven through UWCL competition.

Popp has led Wolfsburg in scoring, with 14 goals through 17 matches despite missing several weeks due to injury. She’s followed by Ewa Pajor, who has 11 goals in 16 matches as well as seven assists. She ties Popp for a team-high 18 points.

Pajor has been the top scorer in Champions League competition, notching eight goals so far.

Arsenal’s Champions League run ended in injury and heartbreak in Monday’s 3-2 semifinal loss to Wolfsburg.

The Gunners, who already have lost three players to ACL tears this season, saw defender Laura Wienroither stretchered off late in the second half with an apparent knee injury. And despite the raucous crowd of 60,063 at Emirates Stadium, a record for a Champions League match in England, they conceded the winning goal in the 119th minute of extra time.

Wolfsburg clinched the match and the 5-4 aggregate win on a cross off the foot of Pauline Bremer. The club also received a boost from the return of Alexandra Popp, who missed the first leg of the semifinal with a calf injury but scored off a header in the second leg.

Injury luck, though, has not been on Arsenal’s side this season. Beth Mead, Vivianne Miedema and Leah Williamson all have suffered ACL tears this season. Team captain Kim Little sustained a season-ending hamstring injury in the Champions League quarterfinal, and Caitlin Foord injured her hamstring earlier in April.

Wienroither added her own name to the growing injury list Monday. She entered the match in the 64th minute and exited 18 minutes later on a stretcher.

The loss ends Arsenal’s bid for the Champions League trophy, but the club remains in the running for the Women’s Super League title. With 38 points, the Gunners sit nine points back of first-place Manchester United with five matches left to play.

One day after Beth Mead made history and extended her lead in the Euros’ Golden Boot race, Alexandra Popp made some history of her own — and pulled into a tie with the English striker.

Popp scored twice in Germany’s 2-1 win Wednesday over France to lead the team to a record ninth Euros final.

With her goals, she became the first women’s player to score in five consecutive matches at the Euros. She matches Michel Platini’s record from the men’s tournament in 1984, when he scored in five consecutive matches for France.

Her first tally came in the 40th minute to put Germany up 1-0.

That lead did not hold for long, though, as a strike from France’s Kadidiatou Diani ricocheted off the post, then went into the net off the back of German goalkeeper Merle Frohms.

Credited as an own goal, it also marked the first goal that Germany conceded in the tournament.

Popp, though, played hero in the second half. She put Germany in the lead and tied Mead in the Golden Boot race with a header in the 76th minute.

Both now have six goals on the tournament, tying the Euros record set by Germany’s Inka Grings in 2009.

The 2-1 scoreline held despite a couple of late opportunities for France. Germany will face host England on Sunday in the final at Wembley, on the hunt for a record ninth European championship title.

Germany has won every women’s Euros final in which it has appeared, while England will be looking for its first title.