50

Key Stat26 tackles won in the 2018 NWSL season.

South Africa

Janine van Wyk

Defender

South Africa is expected to be one of the weakest teams at the World Cup, but they won’t be easy to score on. They have a well-organized defense that’s often difficult for even top opponents to break down, and van Wyk is their organizer. She’s the captain of Bayana Bayana and their most capped player ever, but she’s taken her leadership beyond the pitch as well, founding her own founding her own club with youth and senior teams.

Key Stat26 tackles won in the 2018 NWSL season.

49

Key Stat38 starts for Barcelona in the 2018-19 season.

Spain

Marta Torrejon

Defender

Recent dominant performances at the youth international level have many experts believing Spain is the future of the women’s game, but Torrejon was part of the first generation of players from the country to find international success. She’s one of the oldest players on her squad despite being just 29 years old. She regularly locks down opposing wingers from her right back position, as well as being an excellent crosser and regular threat to head in set pieces.

Key Stat38 starts for Barcelona in the 2018-19 season.

48

Key StatLed all players worldwide with 19 goals in World Cup qualifying.

Jamaica

Bunny Shaw

Forward

Shaw is one of two players on this list to have never played a professional match, and she’ll be looking to use the World Cup as a platform to convince the top clubs in the world that she’s worth handing a big contract. At 5’11, Shaw is one of the world’s best aerial threats, but she’s spent most of her career in midfield, so don’t be surprised by her solid touch and passing. She’s a superstar in the making, and Jamaica’s biggest hope for pulling off an upset or two.

Key StatLed all players worldwide with 19 goals in World Cup qualifying.

47

Key StatHas played left back, left wing and central midfield for Brazil in 2019.

Brazil

Andressa Alves

Midfielder

Brazil enters this World Cup following a shocking nine-game losing streak. If they finally do find a lineup that gets them back to top form, it’ll be because Andressa Alves is capable of playing anywhere on the field. She’s usually a flashy winger, but she’s a good enough goal scorer to play striker, and a good enough defender that she’s regularly used at fullback.

Key StatHas played left back, left wing and central midfield for Brazil in 2019.

46

Norway

Maren Mjelde

Defender

Mjelde has spent most of her career as a central midfielder, but Norway’s lack of depth in defense has forced a move back to center back. That might mean we don’t get to see the best of Mjelde at this World Cup, but it allows Norway to get its most talented players on the field, and Mjelde will be one of the slickest passing defenders in the tournament.

45

Key StatLed the Spanish Primera Division in scoring with 24 goals.

Spain

Jenni Hermoso

Forward

The one major criticism of Spain in recent years is while they’re elite at passing in midfield, they’re not clinical enough when they get close to goal. Hermoso, the leading scorer in the Spanish Primera, will be counted on to change that. She likes to drift away from the penalty area to find the ball, but her club season and her two-goal performance against the Netherlands at the Algarve Cup give Spanish fans a reason to hope that she’s more willing to play like a classic center forward when needed.

Key StatLed the Spanish Primera Division in scoring with 24 goals.

44

Key StatStarted every game in England’s SheBelieves Cup win.

England

Keira Walsh

Midfielder

There isn’t a team with more flashy individual players than England, and those players are enabled by Keira Walsh and the job that she does in the center of midfield. Her more ambitious teammates don’t have to worry about turning the ball over, because she’s always in position to slow down opposition counter-attacks. But Walsh will take an opportunity to show off too — she scored a 30-yard goal in the FA Cup final.

Key StatStarted every game in England’s SheBelieves Cup win.

43

Key StatNamed best women’s goalkeeper by IFFHS for the past three seasons.

France

Sarah Bouhaddi

Goalkeeper

France supporters have skipped several heartbeats watching Bouhaddi play in goal over the past decade, but her aggressive plays pay off more often than they backfire. Most fans prefer to have a more risk-averse goalkeeper between the sticks, but if you’re not a fan of Les Bleus, you’ll enjoy watching their goalkeeper sprint away from her box and make clearances near midfield.

Key StatNamed best women’s goalkeeper by IFFHS for the past three seasons.

42

Key Stat7 career NWSL goals.

Argentina

Estefania Banini

Midfielder

Argentina is one of the weakest teams at this World Cup, and was placed into one of its most difficult groups. La Albiceleste’s biggest hope for stealing a point — or, honestly, to just score one goal — is Banini. She’s split time between NWSL and the Spanish Primera over the past couple of seasons, and is the focal point of the Argentina attack as the central attacking midfielder. She has the skill and flair to beat multiple defenders on her own… if her team can get her the ball.

Key Stat7 career NWSL goals.

41

Key Stat4 Serie A goals in 2018-19.

Italy

Valentina Cernoia

Midfielder

This is Italy’s first World Cup since 1999, and Cernoia is the biggest reason they have a chance to get out of their group. Unlike most teams on their level, which have a couple of stars but struggle to put 11 quality players on the field, Italy is a team with good depth and minimal star power. But Cernoia is a complete central midfielder who can score from free kicks, and she’ll have the most influence on her team’s success or failure.

Key Stat4 Serie A goals in 2018-19.

40

Key Stat62 career professional league goals.

Norway

Kristine Minde

Defender

Minde has spent most of her career scoring goals from the wing at club level, but she has to fill in at left back most of the time for her country. She’s a capable defender, but will be hoping for plenty of opportunities to shine going forward. Minde has struggled to win over her coach at Wolfsburg, but for Norway, she’s consistently a top performer no matter which position she plays.

Key Stat62 career professional league goals.

39

Key Stat4 goals in World Cup qualifying

Japan

Kumi Yokoyama

Forward

In 2010, Yokoyama burst onto the world stage with a goal at the Under-17 World Cup. She went on a slalom run through six defenders before scoring, earning a nomination for the FIFA Puskas Award. Since then, she’s developed into Japan’s main striker at the senior level, regularly scoring against top-10 teams in the world. These days, she’s much more likely to score a poacher’s effort or bang one in from distance than she is to attempt to solo dribble through a defense.

Key Stat4 goals in World Cup qualifying

38

Key Stat10 NWSL clean sheets in 2018.

Australia

Lydia Williams

Goalkeeper

Australia’s attacking play style regularly leaves big holes at the back, putting a lot of pressure on their goalkeeper to make saves. Thankfully for them, Williams regularly displays inhuman reactions. She won’t have many clean sheets, but she’s a good bet to make the save of the tournament.

Key Stat10 NWSL clean sheets in 2018.

37

Key Stat15 clean sheets in the Frauen-Bundesliga in 2018-19.

Sweden

Nilla Fischer

Defender

Regularly voted into world XI lists by her peers and media alike, Fischer has been one of the world’s most consistent defenders over the past decade. At 34, she might be a touch past her peak, but she still anchors two of the world’s most consistent defenses, for club and country. Wolfsburg conceded the fewest goals in the Frauen-Bundesliga with her in the back line this season, and Sweden conceded just twice in UEFA qualifying.

Key Stat15 clean sheets in the Frauen-Bundesliga in 2018-19.

36

Key StatBest young player at the 2015 World Cup.

Canada

Kadeisha Buchanan

Defender

Buchanan was a breakout star for Canada at the last World Cup, but she’s still just 23 years old. This season has been a rocky one for Buchanan at Lyon, but she’s still Canada’s best defender, and one of the highest ceiling players in the world. At her best, she stops opposing forwards from ever getting off decent shots. Canada will be hoping she can put a disappointing club campaign behind her and return to top form.

Key StatBest young player at the 2015 World Cup.

35

Key Stat157 caps for Sweden.

Sweden

Hedvig Lindahl

Goalkeeper

Going into her fifth World Cup as Sweden’s starting goalkeeper, Lindahl is still one of her team’s most important players. Sweden’s pressure-inviting style wouldn’t work if they couldn’t rely on their goalkeeper to make all the right decisions, and Lindahl rarely makes an error. Some of her younger colleagues might make more spectacular saves, but none of them match her consistency.

Key Stat157 caps for Sweden.

34

Key Stat86 headers won in NWSL in 2018.

New Zealand

Abby Erceg

Defender

Erceg is the reigning NWSL defender of the year, but she wasn’t always a lock to play at this World Cup. She retired from international soccer in 2017, citing disagreements with the New Zealand FA, and has been in and out of the team several times since. But Erceg opted to return ahead of World Cup preparations, and she’ll be needed to anchor the Football Ferns’ defense. At 5’10, Erceg is elite in the air, and she doesn’t lack any other essential defending skills.

Key Stat86 headers won in NWSL in 2018.

33

Key Stat7 goals in World Cup qualifying.

China

Li Ying

Forward

In an age where forwards are asked to become more complete players and contribute to multiple phases of play, it’s a joy to watch a player who’s all about scoring goals. Li finished as the top scorer of the 2018 Asian Cup, scoring three more goals than everyone else and finding the back of the net in all of China’s games. She scores all types of goals, from edge of the penalty area bangers to back post diving headers.

Key Stat7 goals in World Cup qualifying.

32

Key Stat39 goals over her past four club seasons.

Cameroon

Ajara Nchout

Winger

From her youth career, Nchout stood out as an extremely talented dribbler, with plenty of pace to go along with it, but it’s only recently that she’s developed into a finisher as well. Cameroon will be limited to mostly playing on the counter during this World Cup, but they should be able to find some success on the break through Nchout, who regularly beats defenders one-on-one before breaking into space.

Key Stat39 goals over her past four club seasons.

31

Key Stat5 assists in her last two W-League seasons.

Australia

Emily van Egmond

Midfielder

As the more dynamic member of Australia’s midfield pair, van Egmond will be tasked with getting up and down the field, supporting the forward line as much as she supports the defense. The back line behind her has been shaky recently, so she’ll have to be at her best when Australia loses the ball. Expect to see her score, too — she’s one of the world’s best penalty takers.

Key Stat5 assists in her last two W-League seasons.

30

Key Stat22 goals, 18 assists in three college seasons.

Canada

Jessie Fleming

Midfielder

Any professional team in the world would be thrilled to have Fleming, but she’s opted to stay at UCLA, where she’s working on a materials engineering degree while taking occasional breaks to embarrass amateur footballers. At no point has she ever looked overmatched when she’s thrown into a game against pros, and she’ll be Canada’s primary playmaker. She’s already one of the best creative passers in the world.

Key Stat22 goals, 18 assists in three college seasons.

29

Key Stat2 hat tricks in the 2018-19 WSL season.

England

Fran Kirby

Midfielder

At the top of her game, Kirby’s combination of athleticism, work rate, creativity, and finishing skill made her one of the best forwards in the world. She’s been far from her best in the FA WSL this season, but she’s still looked dangerous when slotted into the No. 10 role for England. She could compete for the Golden Ball, or she could lose her starting spot. It’s hard to tell which one is more likely at the moment.

Key Stat2 hat tricks in the 2018-19 WSL season.

28

Key Stat9 goals in the 2018 Damallsvenskan.

Sweden

Kosovare Asllani

Midfielder

Even the most structured teams are usually allowed one flair player, and Asllani is that for Sweden. While most of the team will prioritize staying in shape and playing safe passes, Asllani will not be afraid to run at defenders and try to make creative plays. Sweden has lacked for scoring power since the retirement of Lotta Schelin, and will rely on Asllani to be their most dangerous attacker.

Key Stat9 goals in the 2018 Damallsvenskan.

27

Key Stat111 career goals for Brazil.

Brazil

Marta

Forward

The six-time world player of the year and the greatest player ever in women’s soccer has lost quite a bit of her pace, but is still one of the top attacking players on the planet. The question is whether Brazil can make the most of her current skillset. Marta is a more intelligent player and better passer than she was in her prime, but her teammates look like they don’t know how to play without her running solo through entire opposing defenses. She can still be the centerpiece of a great team if they understand that the Marta of a decade ago isn’t walking through the door.

Key Stat111 career goals for Brazil.

26

Key Stat3 NWSL assists in 2018.

Australia

Steph Catley

Defender

When anyone questions Australia’s defense, they mean three-quarters of it. There’s no doubting Catley’s qualifications as a world class left back in all phases of play. She’s the Matildas’ best defender by a mile, and also a major threat getting forward. Expect her to deliver a lot of quality crosses into the box and pick up an assist or two before Australia is done.

Key Stat3 NWSL assists in 2018.

25

Key Stat100 career Frauen-Bundesliga goals.

Germany

Alexandra Popp

Forward

Popp spent her early career getting shifted around the Germany front line to fill in wherever she was needed, but at 28, she’s now firmly established as the country’s starting center forward. Germany has quicker and flashier young talents ready to come off the bench, but Popp’s consistent physical presence and intelligent movement make her a key piece for one of the tournament favorites.

Key Stat100 career Frauen-Bundesliga goals.

24

Key Stat117 accurate long balls in NWSL in 2018.

Scotland

Rachel Corsie

Defender

Scotland has qualified for the World Cup for the first time, and they’ll be depending on the leadership of Corsie at the back to keep them in games. The Scots moved Corsie into midfield out of necessity at the Euros two years ago, but the back line struggled without her, and she should be back to running the defense in France. She’s one of the most positionally sound defenders in the world, and she’s entering the World Cup in excellent club form.

Key Stat117 accurate long balls in NWSL in 2018.

23

Key Stat6 goals in World Cup qualifying.

Norway

Caroline Graham Hansen

Forward

Norway’s highly structured style of play was one of the factors that drove Ballon d’Or winner Ada Hegerberg to quit the team, but her countrywomen will have at least one source of creativity in their squad. Hansen can play all across the attack, but usually lines up as a second striker with the freedom to drift around. She’s one of the best in the world at dribbling with pace and it often looks impossible for defenders to pick the ball off her feet.

Key Stat6 goals in World Cup qualifying.

22

Key Stat3 goals at the 2018 Africa Cup of Nations.

Nigeria

Asisat Oshoala

Forward

Oshoala entered the last World Cup fresh off starring at the Under-20 World Cup. She scored in her first match at the senior tournament, but looked very much like a raw young talent without much end product to go along with her pace and dribbling ability. But fast forward four years, and Oshoala is a complete attacking player. Her through balls and crossing have improved considerably, and her finishing is now arguably the best part of her game. She can play on the right or at center forward, depending on which of her extremely talented teammates play from game to game.

Key Stat3 goals at the 2018 Africa Cup of Nations.

21

Key StatSouth Korea’s all-time leading scorer with 54 goals.

South Korea

Ji So-yun

Forward

No team depends on its star player more than South Korea depends on Ji. She plays behind the central striker and provides just as many assists as goals, but she’s also her country’s all-time leading scorer by a wide margin. She’s technically superb, with one of the sweetest first touches in the game, and she makes brilliant runs off one-two exchanges with teammates. The big question for South Korea is whether they can find ways to exploit defenses that focus exclusively on denying touches to Ji.

Key StatSouth Korea’s all-time leading scorer with 54 goals.

20

Key Stat7 goals, 6 assists in NWSL in 2018.

United States

Megan Rapinoe

Winger

In 2016, Rapinoe rushed back from an ACL injury only to struggle at the Olympics and finish the NWSL season with just 205 minutes played. Many assumed that her career as a key player for the United States was over. But three years later, she’s more important than she’s ever been. The 33-year-old is entering the World Cup on top form, and will be expected to tally several goals and assists from the left wing.

Key Stat7 goals, 6 assists in NWSL in 2018.

19

Key Stat2018-19 WSL’s second-leading scorer with 19 goals.

England

Nikita Parris

Winger

No one is entering the World Cup on hotter form than Parris. She’s scored 19 goals in 19 games for Manchester City in the FA WSL this season, and she found the back of the net six times for England during World Cup qualifying. Parris has always been one of the fastest players in England, but she only recently added elite finishing skills to her game — she scored just one league goal in 2016 before tallying 11 last season, then increasing her scoring total once again this season.

Key Stat2018-19 WSL’s second-leading scorer with 19 goals.

18

Key Stat7 Division 1 Feminine goals in 2018-19.

China

Wang Shuang

Midfielder

Wang has been well known as one of China’s biggest rising stars for over a decade. She made her youth international debut at 12 and first suited up for the senior team at 17. But it’s just in the past year, since moving to Paris Saint-Germain, that she’s become one of the best midfielders in the world. She’s never afraid to sprint through midfield with the ball at her feet and she has a wicked left foot. Her set piece deliveries could be key for China.

Key Stat7 Division 1 Feminine goals in 2018-19.

17

Key Stat6 WSL assists in 2018-19.

Netherlands

Danielle van de Donk

Midfielder

The Netherlands has one of the best attacks at the World Cup, and it starts with van de Donk. She’s the primary playmaker that all of their moves revolve around, and she’ll drift from her central attacking midfield role to find the ball. She’s added a lot more to her game over the past two years too — her 13-goal tally for Arsenal this season is her best since she’s left her home country, and she’s a much more adept tackler than she was when the Netherlands won the 2017 European Championship.

Key Stat6 WSL assists in 2018-19.

16

Key Stat2015 World Cup Silver Ball winner.

France

Amandine Henry

Midfielder

Once considered a regular Ballon d’Or contender, Henry hasn’t quite been on that level of form since she left Europe for NWSL. But she still re-established herself as a first choice player at Olympique Lyonnais this season and was a key part of their Champions League-winning campaign. Henry is a very well-rounded defensive midfielder, responsible for starting France’s attacks and slowing down opposition breaks, and she’s equally adept at both.

Key Stat2015 World Cup Silver Ball winner.

15

Key Stat7 goals in World Cup qualifying.

United States

Alex Morgan

Forward

A decade into spearheading the United States attack, Morgan is a much different player than she was when she first burst onto the scene. Once a pure goal-poacher, reliant on her speed, Morgan has morphed into a deep-lying forward who’s more responsible for hold-up play and setting up her teammates than she is for scoring goals. In the American attack, she often wins the ball to start moves or makes the pass before the assist, in case you’re wondering why she doesn’t show up in the box score more often.

And yet, Morgan is still a world-class finisher. She’s racked up 21 USWNT goals since the start of 2018, many of them from lurking around the box on set pieces and finishing off knockdowns. She might not be the run in behind-style striker you remember, but she’s still one of the best in the world, and her willingness to do the dirty work is what makes the U.S. attack work so well.

Key Stat7 goals in World Cup qualifying.

14

Key StatStarted every game of Lyon’s Champions League-winning campaign.

England

Lucy Bronze

Defender

It’s rare for a right back to receive the accolades Bronze has, but she manages to stand out at what is often the least glamorous position on the field. She seems to have endless energy and never gets caught out of position, despite her regular adventurous runs towards the opposing endline to deliver excellent crosses into the box. She’s great with the ball at her feet too, leading her coach to experiment with playing her at central midfield.

If Bronze does end up playing in the middle, it’ll be a shame. It’s a waste of her best talent — picking the ball off the feet of opposing wingers who thought they had her beat. There isn’t a better one-on-one wing defender in the world.

Key StatStarted every game of Lyon’s Champions League-winning campaign.

13

Key Stat13 Frauen-Bundesliga goals in 2018-19.

Germany

Sara Däbritz

Midfielder

Every team needs an energy player. Someone to do the running. Dabritz is that for Germany, but in another timeline, she could have been a world-class team’s most creative attacking player. There aren’t any box-to-box central midfielders who have quicker feet, and when she does get an opportunity to take on a defender with a skill move, she doesn’t let it slip away.

It’s a delight to watch a player who is willing to do the simple job asked of her, but capable of so much more. After a long spell of breaking up play and hitting safe passes, Dabritz can pop up out of nowhere with a solo slalom run through multiple defenders, or a powerful goal from 20 yards out.

Key Stat13 Frauen-Bundesliga goals in 2018-19.

12

Key StatLed 2018-19 WSL in scoring with 22 goals.

Netherlands

Vivianne Miedema

Forward

In 2015, the Netherlands was not ready for their first big tournament, and neither was a 19-year-old Miedema. The much hyped prodigal forward looked overwhelmed by the big stage. But a lot changed for the Oranje over the next two years, and they went on to win a European title in 2017 with Miedema scoring goals up top. She’s only gotten better since.

Miedema scored an outrageous 31 goals in 27 appearances for Arsenal this season, to go along with 11 goals in her last 15 appearances for the Netherlands. She might not be as well-rounded as the other players in contention for best striker in the world, but with a scoring record like that, she doesn’t have to be. Expect the Netherlands to set up their team to enable Miedema to score as many goals as possible without worrying about anything else.

Key StatLed 2018-19 WSL in scoring with 22 goals.

11

Key Stat34 goals in her three NWSL seasons.

Scotland

Kim Little

Forward

Scotland’s upset of Switzerland in qualification means the world gets to see Little on the biggest stage for the first time. Most assumed she’d never have a chance to play at a World Cup, but she scored in each of Scotland’s last three qualifiers, guiding them to the finals for the first time.

Little is arguably the best player ever for both Arsenal and Reign FC, and she won the PFA Player of the Year and NWSL MVP in back-to-back seasons. Scotland is built around giving her creative freedom in a central attacking midfield role, and she makes the most of it with spectacular goals and assists. Her first touch is second to none, and she might be the best player in the world at turning away from defenders with it.

Key Stat34 goals in her three NWSL seasons.

10

Key StatScored for Canada in each of the last 20 consecutive years.

Canada

Christine Sinclair

Forward

There is no more consistent player in the history of world soccer than Christine Sinclair. She’s tallied 181 international goals — just three shy of the all-time record. She’s never won a league MVP or golden boot, but has been a star player on four championship teams, and a finalist for FIFA World Player of the Year seven times. And even though she’ll turn 36 at this World Cup, she’s still Canada’s most important player.

Sinclair can’t blow by defenders with pace like she used to, but very few formerly speed-dependant players have been able to adjust their games as well as her. She’s become an excellent playmaker, and she creates space with intelligent movement, ghosting away from oblivious defenders. This should be her last World Cup, so appreciate her while you can.

Key StatScored for Canada in each of the last 20 consecutive years.

9

Key StatPlayer of the match in the 2016 Champions League final.

Japan

Saki Kumagai

Defender

What do you do when your best center back and your best midfielder are the same player? That’s the dilemma Japan has had for Kumagai’s entire career. It appears that she’ll be playing in the back at this World Cup, and if she does, she’ll be by far the smoothest passing central defender at the tournament.

This, unfortunately, means we won’t get to see too much of Kumagai playing defense-splitting through balls or making runs into the box. But we will get to see her show off her incredible anticipation and awareness as she cuts off passes before they reach opposing forwards. Expect Japan’s opponents to attack around her in an attempt to avoid her.

Key StatPlayer of the match in the 2016 Champions League final.

8

Key StatLeads all players in xG (expected gauze)

United States

Julie Ertz

Midfielder

The United States has confidence in its ability to dominate any opponent, and in its defense to win difficult battles in space. It’s not always a smart strategy, but it does mean we get to see the most entertaining version of Ertz, an absolute wrecking ball of a midfielder who seemingly has zero regard for her own physical health. You will see her flying around everywhere to win the ball, and you’ll see her end each game with purple body parts and bandages.

Ertz was a central defender, and a great one, at the last World Cup. Her best skill was making aggressive plays to win the ball high up the pitch, though, so she’s being given more opportunities to do that. American fans might be a bit less stressed out if they had a defensive midfielder who held her position, but Ertz creates so many dangerous counter-attacks with her aggressive style that it’s almost certainly worth it to just let her do her thing.

Key StatLeads all players in xG (expected gauze)

7

Key Stat19 goals for Lyon in Division 1 Feminine and Champions League in 2018-19.

France

Eugenie Le Sommer

Winger

Here’s what Le Sommer does to people: In the 44th minute of France’s 2018 SheBelieves Cup match against the United States, American right back Taylor Smith was substituted. Asked after the game if Smith was injured, USWNT coach Jill Ellis said no, the sub was tactical. She couldn’t wait to make a halftime change because she was so concerned that Le Sommer would score in the one minute before the break. That’s how badly Le Sommer turned Smith inside-out.

She’s made a habit of doing that regularly over the last decade, as she’s scored hundreds of goals cutting in from the left wing. Dozens of them in the Champions League, which she’s won five times. Seventy-three of them for France, who she’s trying to fire to their first major championship. She’s fast, direct, and will have opposing right backs spinning around trying to catch up to her.

Key Stat19 goals for Lyon in Division 1 Feminine and Champions League in 2018-19.

6

Key StatLed NWSL with 321 duels won.

United States

Lindsey Horan

Midfielder

Horan’s rise to the top of women’s soccer has been anticipated for a long time. She scored a goal per game for the United States at youth level and signed for Paris Saint-Germain as an 18-year-old. Horan took a bit longer than expected to become a first choice player for the USWNT, but now, at 24, she’s finally considered undroppable.

A switch from striker to central midfield is what started Horan on the path to becoming one of the best players in the world. Her passing game didn’t develop immediately, but she’s now just as good at hitting through balls and long diagonals as anyone who’s spent their entire career in the role. Those skills combined with the ones she’s always had — top tier size and athleticism, plus a rocket of a shot — helped make her NWSL MVP last season. Horan is impossible to push off the ball and should be the most frustrating American player for opponents to play against.

Key StatLed NWSL with 321 duels won.

5

Key StatScored in the 2016 Olympic gold medal match and the 2019 Champions League final.

Germany

Dzsenifer Marozsán

Midfielder

Maroszan is the most skilled midfield playmaker in the world, and unlike 2015, she’s entering this World Cup completely healthy. Germany was bounced out of the semifinals of that tournament by the United States as Maroszan hobbled around the pitch, but a year later, they won an Olympic gold medal as she scored in the final. They’ll have their sights set on winning with their No. 10 on top form.

To a first-time viewer, Maroszan will stand out as clearly a level above her peers when it comes to controlling the ball. Her touches look effortless, and she looks like she’s already mapped out the next five moves in her head whenever she receives the ball. For how seemingly risky and ambitious her play is, it’s astonishing how infrequently she makes mistakes.

Key StatScored in the 2016 Olympic gold medal match and the 2019 Champions League final.

4

Key Stat2017 FIFA Ballon d’Or winner.

Netherlands

Lieke Martens

Winger

The Netherlands have an attack loaded with stars, but the one with the most pressure to deliver is Martens, the left winger who creates most of their goals. Martens was the best player at Euro 2017 and was subsequently named FIFA’s world player of the year, and she’s only improved since then.

After the Euros, Martens made a move to Barcelona, then very much an up-and-coming women’s team without much of a history at the highest levels of the sport. She’s been the catalyst in their rise to the top over the last two years, helping guide the Blaugrana to a Champions League final this season. Expect to see her slashing inside and supplying Miedema repeatedly.

Key Stat2017 FIFA Ballon d’Or winner.

3

Key Stat8 goals, 7 assists in NWSL in 2018.

United States

Tobin Heath

Winger

Heath has long been the United States’ flashiest player, but her tricks used to have very little on the end of them. Over the past two years, she’s finally developed a killer instinct around the box, and is now the Americans’ most impactful attacker. Fortunately for neutral fans, her added goals and assists have not come at the expense of her creative skills, and you can still expect to see quite a few nutmegs.

The USWNT tries to get Heath into one-on-one situations on the right wing, and she routinely embarrasses defenders before setting up a tap-in or ripping a shot into the top corner. She’ll show up in the box score more often than anyone else at the World Cup, and she might be the tournament’s most entertaining player too.

Key Stat8 goals, 7 assists in NWSL in 2018.

2

Key Stat11 French Division 1 Feminine titles.

France

Wendie Renard

Defender

The first thing you will notice about Renard is that she’s very tall. She’s 6’2 without her hair, and at least 7’ with it on full display. Her size and jumping ability make her a formidable goal-scorer on set pieces — she’s found the back of the net 86 times for France and Lyon, despite being a central defender. But there’s so much more to her game than her size.

Renard is an excellent passer out of the back, quicker than anyone else her size, and excellent at reading the game to cut out dangerous passes. If she was 5’6, she’d still be a world-class center back. But yes, her size is very useful, and a major reason why she’s the most dominant defender in the women’s game.

Key Stat11 French Division 1 Feminine titles.

1

Key StatNWSL’s all-time leading scorer with 61 goals.

Australia

Sam Kerr

Forward

There are times when Kerr looks so dominant, you wonder why she doesn’t just choose to score every time she has the ball. She’s won back-to-back NWSL golden boots, and she left for Australia camp with six goals in six games this season. She’s won back-to-back Australian W-League golden boots too. She’s scored 79 goals over her last 83 club games, and 23 goals in her last 26 games for Australia over the same time period. She’s had no bad run of form for two and a half years. She just keeps scoring.

And for that reason, Australia is among the favorites to win the World Cup. The Matildas went through a surprise coaching change just six months before the tournament started, and their defense is shaky, but Kerr’s breakaway speed and decisive finishing give them a chance to win any game. There’s no reason to believe she won’t keep scoring constantly at the World Cup.

Key StatNWSL’s all-time leading scorer with 61 goals.

In previous editions of the women’s World Cup, it was easy to identify the big stars. A dozen players or so stood out above the rest. But the rapid growth of women’s club soccer over the last four years has provided more professional opportunities between World Cups for hundreds of players, and that’s made the talent pool for this tournament deeper than ever before.

Your favorite player that did not make this list was not forgotten. There were just too many genuinely excellent players to include in our PowerCards. In previous years, making a top 50 list might have been a stretch. In 2019, we could have easily justified a top 100. Women’s soccer has never been more competitive, and the Golden Ball race has never been more wide open.

50

South Africa

Janine van Wyk

Defender

49

Spain

Marta Torrejon

Defender

48

Jamaica

Bunny Shaw

Forward

47

Brazil

Andressa Alves

Midfielder

46

Norway

Maren Mjelde

Defender

45

Spain

Jenni Hermoso

Forward

44

England

Keira Walsh

Midfielder

43

France

Sarah Bouhaddi

Goalkeeper

42

Argentina

Estefania Banini

Midfielder

41

Italy

Valentina Cernoia

Midfielder

40

Norway

Kristine Minde

Defender

39

Japan

Kumi Yokoyama

Forward

38

Australia

Lydia Williams

Goalkeeper

37

Sweden

Nilla Fischer

Defender

36

Canada

Kadeisha Buchanan

Defender

35

Sweden

Hedvig Lindahl

Goalkeeper

34

New Zealand

Abby Erceg

Defender

33

China

Li Ying

Forward

32

Cameroon

Ajara Nchout

Winger

31

Australia

Emily van Egmond

Midfielder

30

Canada

Jessie Fleming

Midfielder

29

England

Fran Kirby

Midfielder

28

Sweden

Kosovare Asllani

Midfielder

27

Brazil

Marta

Forward

26

Australia

Steph Catley

Defender

25

Germany

Alexandra Popp

Forward

24

Scotland

Rachel Corsie

Defender

23

Norway

Caroline Graham Hansen

Forward

22

Nigeria

Asisat Oshoala

Forward

21

South Korea

Ji So-yun

Forward

20

United States

Megan Rapinoe

Winger

19

England

Nikita Parris

Winger

18

China

Wang Shuang

Midfielder

17

Netherlands

Danielle van de Donk

Midfielder

16

France

Amandine Henry

Midfielder

15

United States

Alex Morgan

Forward

14

England

Lucy Bronze

Defender

13

Germany

Sara Däbritz

Midfielder

12

Netherlands

Vivianne Miedema

Forward

11

Scotland

Kim Little

Forward

10

Canada

Christine Sinclair

Forward

9

Japan

Saki Kumagai

Defender

8

United States

Julie Ertz

Midfielder

7

France

Eugenie Le Sommer

Winger

6

United States

Lindsey Horan

Midfielder

5

Germany

Dzsenifer Marozsán

Midfielder

4

Netherlands

Lieke Martens

Winger

3

United States

Tobin Heath

Winger

2

France

Wendie Renard

Defender

1

Australia

Sam Kerr

Forward