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WWCup United States Vietnam Soccer
Vietnam’s Thi Kieu Chuong, left, and United States’ Sophia Smith battle for possession during the second half of the FIFA Women’s World Cup soccer match between the United States and Vietnam at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand, Saturday, July 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr) (Abbie Parr / Associated Press)

The 2023 Women’s World Cup, which kicked off in Australia and New Zealand last week, is the largest ever with 32 teams playing 64 games over a month.

It also could turn out to be the most competitive Women’s World Cup ever, with England, the reigning European champion; Germany, a two-time world champion; Canada, the Olympic champion; and the Netherlands, a World Cup finalist four years ago, among a half-dozen teams poised to knock off the U.S., which is going for an unprecedented third straight title.

“It’s our responsibility to find the next step, to find the next 1% to push the team forward and keep this team up front,” U.S. manager Vlatko Andonovski said before the start of the tournament. Here’s a look at each of the teams in the biggest and deepest women’s soccer tournament in history.

Group A

Norway's Ada Hegerberg takes a shot during a Women Euro 2022 match against Austria.
Norway’s Ada Hegerberg takes a shot during a Women Euro 2022 match against Austria. (Alessandra Tarantino / Associated Press)

New Zealand vs. Philippines preview

The buzz: This tournament has already been a wild ride for New Zealand, which opened play by upsetting Norway on a Hannah Wilkinson goal for its first-ever World Cup, then two days later was briefly burned out of its Auckland hotel, with police arresting a 34-year-old man on charges of burglary and arson.

A win here would all but assure the Ferns of a spot in the second round. The Philippines, make its first appearance in either a World Cup or Olympic tournament, held Switzerland to just one goal from the run of play in its opener, which ended in a 2-0 loss.

Anything short of a victory here would leave the Philippines with only the narrowest of routes through to the next round.

Switzerland vs. Norway preview

The buzz: After dropping its opener to New Zealand, Norway needs at least a draw here to keep alive any

hope of reaching the knockout stages for the eighth time in nine World Cups. The Norwegians played well in their opener, outshooting New Zealand, but they made one mistake and that led to Hannah Wilkinson’s counterattack score for the game’s only goal.

Switzerland was dominant everywhere but on the scoreboard in its opening win over the Philippines, controlling the ball for more than 65 of the 90 minutes, running up a 17-3 advantage in shots and putting eight of those on target. But the Swiss managed just one goal from the run of play in a 2-0 win. A win here would all but lock up a spot in the next round.

Group B

Australia's Sam Kerr controls the ball during a match against Brazil in October 2021.
Australia’s Sam Kerr controls the ball during a match against Brazil in October 2021. (Rick Rycroft / Associated Press)

Canada vs. Ireland preview

The buzz: Canada was forced to settle for a scoreless draw in its opener when Nigerian keeper Chiamaka Nnadozie stuffed Christine Sinclair’s second-half try from the spot. That leaves the reigning Olympic champion needing a win here to improve its chances of a second-round berth. But Ireland, too, has its sights on the round of 16. It served notice it’s not going to lay down by giving Australia a battle in its opener before falling 1-0 on Steph Catley’s penalty-kick goal. Beating Canada in its second-ever World Cup game would keep alive its chances of advancing.

Group C

Spain's Jennifer Hermoso, second left, celebrates with teammates after scoring.
Spain’s Jennifer Hermoso, second left, celebrates with teammates after scoring during a match against South Africa in the 2019 Women’s World Cup. (Francisco Seco / Associated Press)

The buzz: Japan blitzed Zambia 5-0 in its opener, outshooting the Africans 25-0, putting 11 shots on target and scoring four times in the second half, with Angel City’s Jun Endo bagging one of those scores.

Now, needing a win to give it a firm grip on a second-round berth, it faces a Costa Rican team that gave up an extraordinary 45 shots in a 3-0 loss to Spain.

As bad as that loss was for the Ticos it could have been worse: goalkeeper Daniela Solero celebrated her 26th birthday by stopping a first-half penalty kick and making 10 saves overall.

Spain vs. Zambia preview

The buzz: This one could get really ugly really fast. Spain took 45 shots in its opening win over Costa Rica while Zambia gave up 25 in its opening loss to Japan. And Spain could be even better in this one after getting Alexis Putellas back.

The two-time Ballon d’Or winner, who sustained an ACL injury 15 months ago, played the final 13 minutes off the bench against Costa Rica, proving her fitness.

A win here would clear a wide path for Spain to move on to the second round. For World Cup debutante Zambia, which made its first appearance on the world stage in the Tokyo Olympics, this tournament has already proved a valuable learning experience.

Group D

Germany's Svenja Huth, left, challenges England's Lucy Bronze for the ball during the Women's Euro 2022 final.
Germany’s Svenja Huth, left, challenges England’s Lucy Bronze for the ball during the Women’s Euro 2022 final. (Leila Coker / Associated Press)

Group E

U.S. teammates Sophia Smith, Kristie Mewis and Trinity Rodman celebrate.

U.S. vs. Netherlands preview

The buzz: This is a rematch of the 2019 World Cup final, a game the U.S. won 2-0 on goals by Megan Rapinoe and Rose Lavelle, neither of whom started in the Americans’ opener here.

The U.S. hasn’t lost a World Cup game since the final match of group play in 2011, though it was hardly impressive in last week’s sloppy 3-0 win over Vietnam. The U.S., which took 28 shots, wasted most of its opportunities but was bailed out by Sophia Smith, who had two goals and an assist in her first World Cup match.

The Dutch, meanwhile, had a tougher time with Portugal despite building a 12-2 edge in shots. The game’s only goal came on defender Stefanie van der Gragt’s header off a corner kick in the 13th minute.

These teams last met in the Tokyo Olympics quarterfinals, playing to a 2-2 draw. The U.S. then won a tie-breaking shootout to eliminate the Dutch.

Group F

Germany's Lina Magull is challenged by France's Wendie Renard for the ball.

Group G

Sweden's Stina Blackstenius controls the ball in front of Portugal's Diana Gomes.
Sweden’s Stina Blackstenius, right, controls the ball in front of Portugal’s Diana Gomes during a Women’s Euro 2022 group match. (Jon Super / Associated Press)

Group H

Germany's Alexandra Popp celebrates with teammates after scoring.
Germany’s Alexandra Popp, second right, celebrates with teammates after scoring against France in the Women’s Euro 2022 semifinals. (Nick Potts / Associated Press)

The buzz: Colombia is back in the World Cup after a four-year break, qualifying in last summer’s Copa América Femenina, where it finished second to Brazil. But its stay in Australia got off to a rough start when its penultimate World Cup warm-up was abandoned after 20 chippy minutes that ended with Ireland’s Denise O’Sullivan on her way to the hospital with a shin injury. (She recovered in time to play in Ireland’s tournament opener.)

Since the Copa América, Colombia has lost just twice in 14 games and its roster includes Real Madrid teenager Linda Caicedo, one of the best young players in the world. She’ll likely be paired up front with Catalina Usme, Colombia’s all-time leading scorer. South Korea won just one game in three previous trips to the World Cup and warmed up for this one with three consecutive wins, beating Haiti and Zambia twice by a combined 12-3.

Ji So-yun, the county’s all-time leading scorer, is known as Ji Messi at home because of her technical ability. But also watch out for 16-year-old Korean-American Casey Phair, the national team’s first mixed-race player.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.