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By Steven Goff Steven Goff Reporter covering soccer (D.C. United, MLS, U.S. national teams, World Cup), plus some college basketball. Email Bio Follow June 15 at 11:38 AM The United States is a slight favorite to defend its world championship in the tourn


The United States is a slight favorite to defend its world championship in the tournament that began Friday with France’s 4-0 rout of South Korea . But with the host team overdue for a trophy and several programs making notable gains, this World Cup promises to be the most competitive ever.

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[ VAR makes its presence felt during Women’s World Cup debut ]

Group A | Group B | Group C | Group D | Group E | Group F Read on for the picks to advance to the knockout round, along with the tournament schedule.

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Two teams from each group, and four of the six third-place teams, will advance to the round of 16.

All times Eastern. All games live-streamed on Fox Sports .

Group A The favorite: At home, the pressure is on France ’s Les Bleues to finally advance to the final of a major competition after quarterfinal and semifinal exits at the World Cup, Olympics and European Championship. The only defeat in 2018-19 has come against Germany in February.

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The contender: A former world power (1991 finalist, 1995 champion, 2007 semifinalist), Norway will attempt to regain elite status without superstar Ada Hegerberg, who quit the national team over treatment of female players.

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The others: Nigeria ’s Super Falcons have not advanced out of group play since 1999, while South Korea is seeking consecutive berths in the round of 16.

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W D L GF GA Diff. Pts. France 2 0 0 6 1 5 6 Norway 1 0 1 4 2 2 3 Nigeria 1 0 1 2 3 -1 3 South Korea 0 0 2 0 6 -6 0 Group schedule June 7

France 4, South Korea 0 ( read more )

June 8

Norway 3, Nigeria 0 ( read more )

June 12

Nigeria 2, South Korea 0 ( read more )

France 2, Norway 1 ( read more )

June 17

France vs. Nigeria in Rennes, 3 p.m. (Fox, Universo)

Norway vs. South Korea in Reims, 3 p.m. (FS1, Telemundo Deportes)

Group B The favorite: Germany , the 2016 Olympic gold medalist, will carry a 12-game unbeaten streak into a tournament it won in 2003 and 2007 but exited in the semifinals four years ago. Die Nationalelf roared through qualifying with a 7-1-0 mark and 38-3 goal differential

The contender: From a traditional soccer country with resources, Spain ’s La Roja is beginning to rise on the world stage. After winning all eight qualifiers by a 25-2 margin, it might be ahead of schedule

The others: China ’s Steel Roses have World Cup pedigree and 2018 Asian player of the year Wang Shuang, while South Africa ’s Banyana Banyana probably will learn hard lessons from their World Cup debut

W D L GF GA Diff. Pts. Germany 2 0 0 2 0 2 6 Spain 1 0 1 3 2 1 3 China 1 0 1 1 1 0 3 South Africa 0 0 2 1 4 -3 0 Group schedule June 8

Germany 1, China 0 ( read more )

Spain 3, South Africa 1 ( read more )

June 12

Germany 1, Spain 0 ( read more )

June 13

China 1, South Africa 0 ( read more )

June 17

Spain vs. China in Le Havre, noon (FS1, Universo)

Germany vs. South Africa in Montpellier, noon (Fox, Telemumdo Deportes)

Group C The favorite: Australia ’s Matildas have never ventured past the quarterfinals, but with a vaunted attack led by Sam Kerr, they are poised for a possible run to the final. They seemed to have rebounded from the stunning ouster of coach Alen Stajcic early this year

The contender: Brazil possesses wonderful talent, but without proper support from the government and soccer federation, the program has missed opportunities to become a power in the women’s game

The others: Italy ’s Le Azzurre is back in the World Cup for the first time in 20 years with true hopes of advancing. Jamaica ’s Reggae Girlz made enormous strides in qualifying for the first time but face a huge challenge

[ An unpaid coach and Bob Marley’s daughter sparked Jamaica’s incredible World Cup run ]

W D L GF GA Diff. Pts. Italy 2 0 0 7 1 6 6 Brazil 1 0 1 5 3 2 3 Australia 1 0 1 4 4 0 3 Jamaica 0 0 2 0 8 -8 0 Group schedule June 9

Italy 2, Australia 1 ( read more )

Brazil 3, Jamaica 0 ( read more )

June 13

Australia 3, Brazil 2 ( read more )

June 14

Italy 5, Jamaica 0 ( read more )

June 18

Australia vs. Jamaica in Grenoble, 3 p.m. (FS1, Telemundo Deportes)

Brazil vs. Italy in Valenciennes, 3 p.m. (Fox, Universo)

Group D The favorite: The Lionesses of England seem on the verge of something big after advancing to the semifinals of the 2015 World Cup and 2017 European Championship. Since January 2018, the operation has been run by former Manchester United standout Phil Neville

The contender: Japan ’s revamped squad is not expected to reach a third consecutive final, but with a rising youth corps and proven system, a serious run is not out of the question

The others: Passage to the knockout stage would further the cause of Argentina , which has slowly gained respect at home in a male-dominated sport. Scotland qualified for the first time, and with greater resources, the program is on the right path

W D L GF GA Diff. Pts. England 2 0 0 3 1 2 6 Japan 1 1 0 2 1 1 4 Argentina 0 1 1 0 1 -1 1 Scotland 0 0 2 2 4 -2 0 Group schedule June 9

England 2, Scotland 1 ( read more )

June 10

Japan 0, Argentina 0 ( read more )

June 14

Japan 2, Scotland 1 ( read more )

England 1, Argentina 0 ( read more )

June 19

England vs. Japan in Nice, 3 p.m. (Fox, Telemundo Deportes)

Scotland vs. Argentina in Paris, 3 p.m. (FS1, Universo)

Group E The favorite: If you’re looking for a team to make a massive breakthrough this summer, the Netherlands is at the top of the list. The Dutch won the 2017 European Championship and feature exciting attackers including Vivianne Miedema (Arsenal) and Lieke Martens (Barcelona)

The contender: After faltering in the quarterfinals at home in 2015, Canada should not have much trouble in group play but probably doesn’t have enough to return to the semifinals for the first time since 2003

The others: Guided by former U.S. coach Tom Sermanni, New Zealand ’s Football Ferns are seeking to advance out of group play for the first time. Cameroon ’s Les Lionnes are aiming to replicate their two-victory performance in group play four years ago

W D L GF GA Diff. Pts. Netherlands 2 0 0 4 1 3 6 Canada 1 0 0 1 0 1 3 New Zealand 0 0 1 0 1 -1 0 Cameroon 0 0 2 1 4 -3 0 Group schedule June 10

Canada 1, Cameroon 0 ( read more )

June 11

Netherlands 1, New Zealand 0 ( read more )

June 15

Netherlands 3, Cameroon 1

Canada vs. New Zealand in Grenoble, 3 p.m. (FS2, Universo)

June 20

Cameroon vs. New Zealand in Montpellier, noon (FS1, Telemundo Deportes)

Canada vs. Netherlands in Reims, noon (Fox, Universo)

Group F The favorite: The top-ranked United States has won the World Cup three times and Olympic gold four times, but its earliest exit in major competition (2016 Olympic quarterfinals vs. Sweden) has helped motivate a squad with enough depth and experience to field two quality teams

[ USWNT fights for equal pay as it fights to defend World Cup title ]

The contender: Sweden has been among the most reliably strong programs since women’s soccer took root, and for the fifth straight tournament, it landed in the same group as the Americans

The others: With a surprising second-place finish at Copa America Femenina (South American championship), Chile qualified for the first time. Thailand is back on the world stage after debuting in Canada four years ago

[ Team USA at the Women’s World Cup: A history ]

W D L GF GA Diff. Pts. United States 1 0 0 13 0 13 3 Sweden 1 0 0 2 0 2 3 Chile 0 0 1 0 2 -2 0 Thailand 0 0 1 0 13 -13 0 Group schedule June 11

Sweden 2, Chile 0 ( read more )

United States 13, Thailand 0 ( read more )

[ Alex Morgan is the face of U.S. soccer, and now its golden boot ]

June 16

Sweden vs. Thailand in Nice, 9 a.m. (FS1, Telemundo)

United States vs. Chile in Paris, noon (Fox, Telemundo)

June 20

United States vs. Sweden in Le Havre, 3 p.m. (Fox, Telemundo)

Chile vs. Thailand in Rennes, 3 p.m. (FS1, Universo)

Knockout round schedule

Round of 16 June 22

Match 38: Group B winner vs. third-place team from Group A, C or D in Grenoble, 11:30 a.m

Match 37: Group A runner-up vs. Group C runner-up in Nice, 3 p.m

June 23

Match 39: Group D winner vs. third-place team from Group B, E or F in Valenciennes, 11:30 a.m

Match 40: Group A winner vs. third-place team from Group C, D or E in Le Havre, 3 p.m

June 24

Match 41: Group F winner vs. Group B runner-up in Reims, noon

Match 42: Group E runner-up vs. Group F runner-up in Paris, 3 p.m

June 25

Match 43: Group C winner vs. third-place team from Group A, B or F, noon

Match 44: Group E winner vs. Group D runner-up, 3 p.m

Quarterfinals June 27

Match 45: Match 37 winner vs. Match 39 winner in Le Havre, 3 p.m

June 28

Match 46: Match 40 winner vs. Match 41 winner in Paris, 3 p.m

June 29

Match 47: Match 43 winner vs. Match 44 winner in Valenciennes, 9 a.m

Match 48: Match 38 winner vs. Match 42 winner in Rennes, 12:30 p.m

Semifinals July 2: Match 45 winner vs. Match 46 winner in Lyon, 3 p.m

July 3: Match 47 winner vs. Match 48 winner in Lyon, 3 p.m

Third-place match July 6 in Nice, 11 a.m

Final July 7 in Lyon, 11 a.m

Read more:

U.S. soccer team roster for the Women’s World Cup

Hope Solo says Team USA Coach Jill Ellis ‘cracks under pressure’

Women’s World Cup misses the mark with patronizing ‘Dare to Shine’ slogan

‘Mr. Ertz,’ the Eagles tight end, will head to France to root for Julie Ertz in the World Cup

Women’s World Cup betting: Can anyone besides the USA and France win it all?

Steven Goff Steven Goff has covered soccer for The Washington Post since the early 1990s. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the U.S. national teams. He has been on assignment at every World Cup since 1994, plus five Women’s World Cups. Follow

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