Your Quick Guide to the 2019 FIFA World Cup

June snuck up on you. And you’ve been hearing about the 2019 FIFA World Cup, in which the twenty-four best women’s national soccer teams in the world will compete for glory in the greatest soccer tournament in the world. It’s the pinnacle of any soccer player’s career. And it starts this week.

You may be totally new to following professional soccer, or know every player since the tournament began in 1991. Either way, here’s a quick rundown of the groups, the schedule, and the players to watch.

Qualifying: How Teams Get Here

Twenty-four teams qualify for the World Cup by coming out in the top of their respective sections through qualification matches, which have taken place over the past year.

Groups: Who Plays Who (to start)

After teams qualified for the World Cup in their continental federations (CONCACAF for USA for instance), their names were entered into a lottery system. Names were drawn and placed into six different groups (A, B, C, D, E, F), determining who each team will play in their group stage.

Schedule of the Tournament: How it Works

Group Stage

June 7 – June 20

24 teams

Teams play everyone in their group in a round-robin style. They collect points for a win (3) or a tie (1) and get an overall accumulation of goals for the event of a tie among ranks in the group.

If a game ends in a tie after the 90 minutes + stoppage time, there is no over time in the group stage.

16 teams advance: #1 and #2 of each group (8 total) as well as four #3’s.

After points, tiebreakers are decided as follows for ties within groups:

  • Goals scored

  • Goal differential (2-0 is differential of 2 whereas 2-1 is differential of 1)

  • Points against teams in question

  • Goal difference against teams in question

  • Goals scored against teams in question

  • Fair play points in all matches

  • Drawing of lots

Knockout Stage

June 22 – July 7

These games are played once the group stage is over and 16 teams are left. The first round will see 8 teams advance to the quarterfinals, then 4 teams advance to the semi-finals. The winners of the semi-final matches advance to the Gold Medal Final. The losers of the semi-final matches go to the Bronze Medal match to determine a third place winner.

There are no points accumulated in this stage – you either win and move on or lose and leave. In the event of a tie after 90 minutes + stoppage time, two extra periods of 15 minutes each will be played.  If there is still a tie after the extra time periods, the match is decided by a penalty shoot-out.


Check out our special podcast series on the World Cup to get some extra tips for the bracket challenge!

The Send Away Series

Where Matches will be played in France

World Cup matches will be played all over France, from Valenciennes in the far north to the beautiful seaside venue of Nice in the southeast.

The Players: Who to Watch

Lucy Bronze – England / Defender

  • Currently plays for Olympic Lyon in France who just won the Champions League

Barbara Bonansea – Italy / Forward

  • Juventus in Serie A League

  • 2016 Serie A Female Footballer of the Year

Christine Sinclair – Canada / Forward

  • Captain of the Team

  • Plays for Portland Thorns in NWSL

  • Canada’s all-time leading scorer

  • Currently second in all-time international goals for males or females with 181 goals – Abby Wambach is first with 184 (she might surpass Abby this World Cup!)

  • Her 5th World Cup

  • 14 time Canadian Player of the Year

Tobin Heath – USA / Flank/attacking midfielder

  • Plays for the Portland Thorns

  • Went to UNC Chapel Hill

  • Crafty player – incredible footwork

  • Scored 8 goals for Portland Thorns in 2018

  • 2016 US Soccer Female Athlete of the Year

Vivianne Miedema – Netherlands / Forward

  • 22 years old

  • Scored five goals in the group stage of World Cup qualifying and scored in each leg of the playoff final against Switzerland

  • Scored two goals in the 2017 Euro final

  • Plays for English club Arsenal in the FA Women’s Super League, she already has 14 goals this season, including two hat tricks.

Sam Kerr – Australia / Forward

  • Forward

  • Plays for Chicago Red Stars in NWSL

  • In 2017, she was awarded the best player in Australia

  • 2018 ESPY Awards Best International Women’s Soccer Player

  • 2017, 2018 NWSL Best XI

  • 2017 NWSL MVP Award

  • 2017, 2018 NWSL Golden Boot Award (most goals scored in league)

  • 2013, 2017, 2018 PFA Women’s Footballer of the Year

  • Holds record for most goals scored in the NWSL – 55 to date

Formiga – Brazil / Midfielder

  • Appearing in her 7th World Cup at 41 years old

  • Plays for Paris Saint-Germain

  • Has played professionally in France, Sweden and USA

Jody Brown – Jamaica / Forward

  • Only 17 years old

  • Players for American club Montverde Academy

  • Named to the 2018 CONCACAF XI Best Female Team (alongside Alex Morgan)

Become a Bigger Fan with She Plays

Well that’s it. Not really it, but hopefully this has helped get you up-to-speed and excited for what’s about to go down in France for the next month.

And here’s something to help you get even more informed and involved on your fan journey — stay up-to-date with the World Cup and other incredible women’s professional sports by signing up for our weekly bulletin.

Need an excuse to miss work for a #USWNT game? We’ve got you covered.