PARIS — No matter what transpired at the draw for the 2019 Women’s World Cup on Saturday night, one thing was never going to change: the United States women’s national team would be widely regarded as the favorite to win, with all the hopes and expectation and pressure that comes with that.
But now, at least, the Americans, the world’s top-ranked team, know the opponents standing in their way in the first round when the tournament kicks off next June in France: Sweden, Thailand and Chile.
The United States will enter the tournament as the defending champion, after beating Japan to win the previous edition of the tournament in Canada. The United States also won in 1991, the first edition of the quadrennial competition, and in 1999, when the event was played on home soil.
On Saturday night at La Seine Musicale, a performing arts venue in the western suburbs of Paris, the tournament’s 24 teams were placed into four pots based on their world rankings and then drawn into one of six groups. With the exception of Europe, which has the most teams in the field (nine), countries from the same confederation could not be drawn into the same group.
France, the host and another one of the favorites to win the tournament, will play South Korea on June 7 in Paris to open the World Cup. Norway and Nigeria were the other two teams placed into Group A.
Germany, another favorite alongside the United States and France to win the World Cup, will meet China, Spain and South Africa in Group B. England drew its neighbor, Scotland, as well as Argentina and the 2011 champion, Japan. Australia and Brazil feature in Group C, and Canada drew the European champion, the Netherlands, in Group E.
The Americans will get their toughest test, Sweden, the world’s ninth-ranked team according to FIFA, in their final group game, but could be through to the knockouts by then. They will open against Thailand in Reims on June 11 and then face the World Cup newcomers Chile on June 16 in Paris. Their game against Sweden on June 20 in Le Havre will be a rematch of the teams’ meeting in the 2016 Olympic quarterfinals.
The Swedes, then led by the former United States coach Pia Sundhage, won that day, a humbling defeat for the Americans and the first time they had failed to medal in the World Cup or the Olympics.
The semifinals and final, which will take place on July 7, will be played in Lyon. Seven other cities — Grenoble, Le Havre, Montpellier, Nice, Reims, Rennes and Valenciennes — will help host the tournament’s 52 total games.
The 2019 champion will win $4 million in prize money, double the share from 2015. The prize money for the 2018 men’s World Cup champion, France, was $38 million.