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MALTATODAY 9 June 2019

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28 FRANCE is hosting the Fifa Women's World Cup for the first time, with the tourna- ment having kicked off on Friday. England, Italy, Brazil and the USA are among the 24 teams taking part with the fi- nal in Lyon on 7 July. The tournament will be host- ed in nine cities and played in nine different venues. Hosts France got the com- petition under way with their opening group match against South Korea in Paris. Scotland, who are making their first appearance at the World Cup, will meet Eng- land in Nice today in what is the opening game for both countries. Holders the United States will begin the defence of their title against Thailand, who are ranked 29th in the world, on Tuesday in Reims. The semi-finals and final are being held in Lyon and will take place from 2 July. Last month, Fifa revealed that more than 720,000 tick- ets have already been sold for the tournament - exceeding the number sold at this stage for the World Cup in Canada in 2015. The opening match, along with the semi-finals and fi- nal, were sold out within 48 hours of going on sale. Where will the games be played? There are nine venues in total, including the Parc des Princes - home of Paris St- Germain. The opening match will take place there, while sev- en of the venues will host at least three group games. The semi-finals and fi- nal will be held at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais, also know as Groupama Stadium. It has the largest capacity of the venues being used and will hold up to 59,186 fans. The stadium, which hosted last year's Europa League fi- nal, will also be one of the venues for the 2024 Summer Olympics. The nine venues • Parc des Princes, Paris • Stade Auguste-De- laune, Reims • Stade des Alpes, Gre- noble • Roazhon Park, Rennes • Stade du Hainaut, Va- lenciennes • Stade de la Mosson, Montpellier • Allianz Riviera, Nice • Stade Oceane, Le Havre • Parc Olympique Lyon- nais, Lyon Who are the favourites? Defending champions, the United States, are seeking a fourth title and are ranked number one in the world. Hosts France have never gone beyond the semi-finals of the World Cup and have only reached the last eight at the European Championship. However, they are ranked fourth in the world and are hoping to replicate the suc- cess of the men's team, who won in Russia last year. Olympic champions Ger- many are also a threat. The side were knocked out in the semi-finals in 2015 - and in the quarter-finals of the European Championship in 2017 - but remain number two in the world. World number seven Japan were World Cup winners in 2011 and runners-up in 2015, while European champions the Netherlands could also challenge for the title. Who to look out for Ballon d'Or winner Ada He- gerberg has not been includ- ed in Norway's squad for the World Cup but a few of her Lyon team-mates could be on show, including England's Lucy Bronze and the newly- signed Nikita Parris, plus Ja- pan defender Saki Kumagai. Manchester City's Steph Houghton could play a big role for England in defence, with Barcelona's Toni Dug- gan and Chelsea's Fran Kirby hoping to shine in attack. Arsenal's Kim Little and Chelsea's Erin Cuthbert will be key attacking players for Scotland, while Manchester City's Caroline Weir is also one to watch. The United States have a squad bursting with talent and experience with the likes of Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe. It is also expected to be 36-year-old Carli Lloyd's last tournament - the former Manchester City midfielder was Fifa World Player of the Year and the Golden Ball winner at the World Cup in 2015. Australia captain and for- ward Sam Kerr guided her country to their first Cup of Nations in March, while PFA Player of the Year Vivianne Miedema is a leading figure for the Netherlands. And Orlando Pride forward Marta, who won the Best Fe- male Player Award in Sep- tember, is the driving force behind an ageing Brazilian team. maltatoday | SUNDAY • 9 JUNE 2019 SPORTS Fifa Women's World Cup 2019: All you need to know Alex Morgan (left) and Carli Lloyd won the World Cup with the USA in 2015 and were runners-up in 2011 Women's World Cup groups Group A: France, South Korea, Norway, Nigeria Group B: Germany, China, Spain, South Africa Group C: Australia, Italy, Brazil, Jamaica Group D: England, Scotland, Argentina, Japan Group E: Canada, Cameroon, New Zealand, Netherlands Group F: USA, Thailand, Chile, Sweden England and Scotland are among the teams competing in this summer's World Cup

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