WORLD CUP APPEARANCES: 1991 (4th), 1995 (2nd), 1999 (8th), 2003 (1st), 2007 (1st), 2011 (6th), 2015 (4th), 2019.
COACH: Martina Voss-Tecklenburg
KEY PLAYERS: Alexandra Popp, Dzsenifer Marozsan, Almuth Schult.
WHAT TO KNOW: Germany has appeared in every World Cup and has won twice. In 2007, the team did not concede a goal during the competition. After Germany won in the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, celebrated coach Sylvia Neid stepped down and former defender Steffi Jones took over. Jones was dismissed in 2018 and Voss-Tecklenburg, herself a former player and head coach of Switzerland’s national team, took over. Marozsan scored the winning goal in Brazil. Popp has played in two previous World Cups. Germany had 35 goals during qualifying, conceding only three.
STATE OF THE GAME: The German federation banned women’s football from 1955-1970. The women’s national team was founded in 1982.
WORLD CUP APPEARANCES: 1991 (7th), 1995 (4th), 1999 (Runner-Up), 2003 (6th), 2007 (5th), 2015 (8th), 2019.
COACH: Jia Xiuquan
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Wang Shuang, Li Ying, Wang Shanshan.
WHAT TO KNOW: China is an eight-time AFC champion. Last May the team replaced coach Siggi Eyjolfsson with 55-year-old Jia Xiuquan, a former defender for China’s men’s national team. Wang Shuang plays for Paris Saint-Germain. Li Ying scored seven goals during qualifying. The team is known as the Steel Roses.
STATE OF THE GAME: China hosted the first Women’s World Cup in 1991. The professional Chinese Women’s Super League consists of eight teams.
FIFA RANKING: 13
QUALIFICATION: Won Group 7 of UEFA Qualification.
WORLD CUP APPEARANCES: 2015 (20th), 2019.
COACH: Jorge Vilda
Key Players: Virginia Torrecilla, Amanda Sampedro, Marta Torrejon.
WHAT TO KNOW: The team is nicknamed La Roja. Spain was disappointed in the 2015 World Cup, finishing last in a group that included Brazil, Costa Rica and South Korea. Spain won all eight games in qualifying, scoring 25 goals. Jennifer Hermoso led the way with seven goals and nine assists. Under Vilda, the team won the Algarve Cup in 2017 and the Cyprus Cup the next year.
STATE OF THE GAME: Spain’s top player, Vero Boquete, led a group of players in a protest following the team’s poor performance at the 2015 World Cup. New coach Jorge Vilda left her off the roster for the 2017 Euros and she has not played for the national team since. She now plays in the United States for the Utah Royals.
FIFA RANKING: 49
QUALIFICATION: Second at the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations.
WORLD CUP APPEARANCES: 2019.
COACH: Desiree Ellis
KEY PLAYERS: Janine Van Wyk, Thembi Kgatlana, Lebohang Ramalepe.
WHAT TO KNOW: This is the team’s first World Cup. Janine Van Wyk, Thembi Kgatlana and Linda Motlhalo all previously played for the Houston Dash of the National Women’s Soccer League in the U.S. Van Wyk has made 150 appearances for the national team. The team’s nickname is Banyana Banyana. Coach Desiree Ellis was one of the founding players of the national team, playing from 1993 to 2003. Banyana Banyana played in the past two Olympics.
STATE OF THE GAME: South Africa’s federation has been criticized for not paying its national team players in a timely manner. Team members threatened to keep their uniforms in protest in 2017.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports