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2023 Women’s World Cup: Group C Preview

Spain will be the favorites but potentials for a dark horse to emerge are also rising

Republic of Ireland WNT v Zambia WNT. International Friendly. Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

Group C will showcase a rising side that the USA eliminated in 2019, an established but recently struggling team, the fourth ranked team in Concacaf, and a debutant from the Confederation of African Football. So, let’s get to know Spain, Japan, Costa Rica, and Zambia. The group features two clear favorites and the first and second place sides will take on the teams that come out of Group A in what should be a favorable match up for the teams that emerge from Group C.

Schedule (based on Eastern Time kickoffs)

July 21

Spain vs. Costa Rica

July 22

Zambia vs. Japan

July 26

Spain vs. Zambia

Japan vs. Costa Rica

July 31

Japan vs. Spain

Costa Rica vs. Zambia


FIFA Ranking: 6

Recent Record: 6-0-1

La Roja had a successful 2022 though may have thought they could have gotten more out of their quarterfinal loss to hosts England in the Euros last year. That tournament saw them come second in their group behind Germany before losing to England 2-1. Aside from that, 2022 saw the team pick up friendly wins over the USA and Japan. This year, the team participated in the 2023 Cup of Nations hosted in Australia and came in second behind the hosts.

Odds of Winning Group: Co-Favorite

One to Watch:

Spain is kinda the Barcelona-Real Madrid all-star team and that bodes well for them. It’s also good that they’ve got the 2022 Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas. She’s coming back from an ACL tear that saw her miss nearly a year but is a strong goal-scorer and has the most caps in La Roja history.


FIFA Ranking: 11

Recent Record: 2-0-3

2023 has been a bit of a rough year so far for Nadeshiko with losses to the USA and Brazil in the SheBelieves Cup along with winning against Canada in that tournament and beating Portugal and losing to Denmark in a pair of friendlies. However, in 2022 they managed to reach the semi-final of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup before losing to China. They have some work to do to regain their position in the world after winning the World Cup in 2011, but have some solid pieces in place to do that.

Odds of Winning Group: Co-Favorite

One to Watch:

Yui Hasegawa is the key player in midfield for Japan as a playmaker, excellent dribbler, and skilled passer. With the national team she typically plays a more forward role, but with her club Man City Hasegawa is asked to be more of a holding mid and is well equipped to win the ball back for her team in the middle of the pitch. She has 14 goals in 65 matches for Japan and can add nine assists, including two in the Olympics, to her attacking resume.

Costa Rica

FIFA Ranking: 36

Recent Record: 0-0-2

Las Ticas have lost their two matches in 2023, but 2022 was much busier for the team. They qualified for the World Cup finishing 4th in the Concacaf W Championship after emerging from the group, but losing to the USA in the semi-final and then to Jamaica in the 3rd place match. Still, it was enough to get a ticket to New Zealand.

Odds of Winning Group: In the Running

One to Watch:

Star player Raquel Rodriguez brings talent, leadership, and experience to the team. She’s been a regular starter in NWSL since joining the league in 2016 and helped the Portland Thorns lift the NWSL Community Shield in 2020.


FIFA Ranking: 77

Recent Record: 3-1-3

The Copper Queens are a fast rising team looking to build on the 2020 Olympics appearance and runner-up finish in the Women’s African Cup of Nations in 2022. So far, 2023 has given them some promising signs and some room to work on things defensively. This year, the team has given up 18 goals in 7 games with 10 of those coming in a pair of friendlies against South Korea in April. However, they did beat Germany 3-2 and come away with a 3-3 draw against Switzerland so the team can mix it up with some of the bigger sides also.

Odds of Winning Group: Dark Horse

One to Watch:

Racheal Kundananji scored a blistering 25 goals in Liga Femenino for CFF Madrid this last season. That was good enough for second highest scorer in the league as the team finished in 5th overall in the table. She scored in both of the recent games against Switzerland and Germany and unless the team tightens up defensively she’ll be needed to continue her scoring streak into the tournament.

Who will advance from Group C? What matches are most interesting to you? Let us know in the comments.