A group containing two continental champions, Group D is teeming with players who know the feeling of winning silverware.
Both England and China enter this tournament as the reigning champions in their respective confederations, after ‘The Lionesses’ defeated Germany in the final of the 2022 European Championships, while China overcame a 2-0 defeat against South Korea to prevail 3-2 in the final of the 2022 Asian Cup.
With Denmark also possessing obvious quality, and Haiti making their first Women’s World Cup appearance, which storyline will get at least one more chapter? Oliver Walker-Peel previews Group D.
Previous Women’s World Cup appearances: 4 (last in 2019)
2019 tournament: 4th (defeated by Sweden 2-1 in third-place playoff)
Best finish: 3rd (2015)
Nickname: The Lionesses
Manager: Sarina Wiegman (The Netherlands)
World ranking: 4th
The toast of the nation in the last English summer, Sarina Wiegman became the first manager since Sir Alf Ramsey to lead England to a senior major honour in 56 years, as Chloe Kelly scored the winner at Wembley in extra time as England overcame Germany 2-1.
As they search to add the biggest prize in world football to the trophy cabinet, England arrives in Australia without two of their brightest stars, with Arsenal teammates Leah Williamson and Beth Mead succumbing to ACL injuries throughout the 2022-23 season.
Despite this, and with Wiegman seeking retribution after being defeated in the final with The Netherlands four years ago, England comes into the tournament as one of the favourites.
Key player: Kiera Walsh
Club: FC Barcelona (Spain)
Position: Central midfielder
Part of the Team of the Tournament at the recent European Championships, and Player of the Match in the 2023 Women’s Finalissima, Walsh is in a rich vein of form in England colours.
The Blackburn Rovers academy graduate is also starring at club level, playing nine times in the UEFA Women’s Champions League as ‘La Blaugrana’ triumphed in the biggest game in club football.
A technician in whichever midfield she plays in, Walsh should again be key in England’s midfield system, as Wiegman’s team look to stand on the top step of the podium again.
Breakout star: Esme Morgan
Club: Manchester City (England)
A pundit with Sky Sports during England’s successes last year in the European Championship after she was cruelly ruled out with injury, Esme Morgan now has the chance to let her football do the talking.
Deployed at right-back for Manchester City during the recent Women’s Super League, despite playing at centre-back in England’s recent defeat to Australia in Brentford, Morgan is a versatile defender who could prove useful for Sarina Wiegman in Australia and New Zealand.
The childhood Manchester City fan has already lived out one dream of featuring for the Citizens, and she could be key if England were to bring the trophy home, which would surely be another.
Goalkeepers: Mary Earps (Manchester United), Hannah Hampton (Aston Villa), Ellie Roebuck (Manchester City)
Defenders: Millie Bright (Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (Barcelona), Niamh Charles (Chelsea), Alex Greenwood (Manchester City), Lotte Wubben-Moy (Arsenal), Jess Carter (Chelsea), Esme Morgan (Manchester City)
Midfielders: Keira Walsh (Barcelona), Georgia Stanway (Bayern Munich), Ella Toone (Manchester United), Jordan Nobbs (Aston Villa), Laura Coombs (Manchester City), Katie Zelem (Manchester United)
Forwards: Lauren James (Chelsea), Rachel Daly (Aston Villa), Lauren Hemp, (Manchester City), Chloe Kelly (Manchester City), Bethany England (Tottenham Hotspur), Katie Robinson (Brighton & Hove Albion), Alessia Russo (Manchester United)
July 22: ENGLAND v Haiti (Brisbane Stadium, Brisbane/Meeanjin, 8pm)
July 28: ENGLAND v Denmark (Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney/Gadigal, 7:30pm)
August 1: China v ENGLAND (Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide/Tarntanya, 8:30pm local, 9pm)
Verdict: After a fourth-place finish four years ago, England should finish top here and prime themselves for a run deep into the tournament. 1st.
Previous Women’s World Cup appearances: 3 (last in 2007)
2019 tournament: Did not qualify
Best finish: 2x QF (last in 1995)
Nickname: De rød-hvide (The Red and White)
Manager: Lars Søndergaard (Denmark)
World ranking: 13th
Set for a long-overdue appearance on the world stage, the Danish squad is full of players playing at the highest level.
With Sofie Svava the sole player in Spain, while seven others spent 2022-23 at Women’s Super League clubs, Denmark arrive in Oceania set to make up for lost time.
With Lars Søndergaard at the helm, as he has been since 2017, can he help Pernille Harder and company past the group stages?
Key player: Pernille Harder
Club: Bayern Munich (Germany)
One-half of a devastating striker partner with Sam Kerr at Chelsea during the last three seasons, the Danish star’s exploits in the blue side of London have earned her a move to German giants Bayern Munich.
Netting 23 times in the Women’s Super League over that time and helping ‘The Blues’ to three league titles, the Danish striker certainly knows where the net is, and the goals she scores are often pivotal.
With 70 goals for Denmark, the most in the history of the national team, goals in Australia for Harder could help her country past the group stage for the first time since 1995.
Breakout star: Kathrine Møller Kühl
Club: Arsenal (England)
Position: Central midfielder
A starlet with FC Norsjælland in her homeland before making the move to North London, the Danish midfielder has already drawn comparisons to her national team captain Harder.
Used mostly off the bench since her move to Arsenal, she plays as an attack-minded midfielder at club level, but has featured in a midfield three in recent times while in Denmark red.
While she already plays with one of Europe’s elite sides, strong performances at the tournament could help make her a permanent fixture of Arsenal’s starting eleven upon her return to England.
Goalkeepers: Lene Christensen (Rosenborg), Katherin Larsen (Brøndby IF), Maja Bay Østergaard (FC Thy-Thisted Q)
Defenders: Simone Boye (Hammarby IF), Stine Ballisager (Vålerenga), Rikke Sevecke (Everton), Luna Gevitz (Montpellier), Sofie Svava (Real Madrid), Katrine Veje (Everton)
Midfielders: Frederikke Thøgersen (Inter Milan), Karen Holmgaard (Everton), Sofie Junge Pedersen (Juventus), Josefine Hasbo (Harvard Crimson), Sanne Troelsgaard (Reading), Kathrine Møller Kühl (Arsenal), Emma Snerle (West Ham)
Forwards: Signe Bruun (Olympique Lyonnais), Nicoline Sørensen (Everton), Amalie Vangsgaard (PSG), Pernille Harder (Bayern Munich), Janni Thomsen (Vålerenga), Rikke Madsen (North Carolina Courage), Mille Gejl (North Carolina Courage)
July 22: DENMARK v China (Perth Stadium, Perth/Boorloo, 8pm local, 10pm)
July 28: England v DENMARK (Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney/Gadigal, 7:30pm)
August 1: Haiti v DENMARK (Perth Stadium, Perth/Boorloo, 7:30pm local, 9:30pm)
Verdict: The game on July 22 against China will likely be crucial in the battle for second place, and if they avoid defeat, they should progress. 2nd.
Previous Women’s World Cup appearances: 7 (last in 2019)
2019 tournament: Round of 16 (lost v Italy 2-0)
Best finish: Runners-up (1999)
Nickname: Kēngqiāng Méiguī (The Steel Roses)
Manager: Shui Qingxia (China)
World ranking: 12th
Facing a 2-0 deficit in the shadows of the break against South Korea in the AFC Asian Cup decider 18 months ago all hope seemed lost.
About an hour later, Xiao Yuyi drove home a winner to complete the unlikeliest of comebacks, and showed this Chinese outfit will not admit defeat until a final whistle resigns them to it.
Runners-up to the United States of America before the turn of the millennia, China has qualified out of every group stage they have participated in, and so have a good track record leading into this Women’s World Cup.
Star player: Wang Shanshan
Club: Wuhan Jianghan University (China)
The Most Valuable Player at the Women’s Asian Cup at which her nation was crowned champions of her continent, reaching a third Women’s World Cup for Wang is another achievement among many in a footballer that transcends generations.
The second-oldest player in the squad, with midfielder Zhang Rui 10 days older, the pair will both be heading to their third Women’s World Cup in a row.
Capable of scoring big goals while also fulfilling defensive duties at the other end, Wang Shanshan will likely be a big contributor should ‘The Steel Roses’ reach the knockout stages.
Breakout star: Shen Mengyu
Club: Celtic (Scotland)
Position: Central midfielder
The first Chinese woman to play in Scottish football after arriving in Glasgow, being a trailblazer is not the only way Shen is influencing those around her.
An ever-present player for the green side of Glasgow, playing 28 times in the league as ‘The Hoops’ finished second to Glasgow City, the midfielder scored six times as she let her ability to go forward and find a goal be on show.
The youngest outfield player in the squad, the former Shanghai Shengli talent could well impress many at her first Women’s World Cup, another step in what looks to be a promising career.
Goalkeepers: Zhu Yu (Shanghai Shenli), Xu Huan (Jiangsu Wuxi), Pan Hongyan (Beijing)
Defenders: Wu Haiyan (Wuhan Jianghan University), Yao Wei (Wuhan Jianghan University), Wang Linlin (Shanghai Shenli), Gao Chen (Changchun Dazhong Zhoyue), Chen Qiaozhu (Guangdong), Li Mengwen (Jiangsu Wuxi), Dou Jiaxing (Jiangsu Wuxi)
Midfielders: Zhang Rui (Wuhan Jianghan University), Yao Lingwei (Wuhan Jianghan University), Gu Yasha (Wuhan Jianghan University), Zhang Xin (Shanghai Shenli), Yang Lina (Levante Las Planas), Wu Chengshu (Canberra United), Zhang Linyan (Wuhan Jianghan University), Shen Mengyu (Celtic)
Forwards: Wang Shanshan (Wuhan Jianghan University), Wang Shuang (Racing Louisville FC), Tang Jiali (Shanghai Shenli), Xiao Yuyi (Shanghai Shenli), Lou Jiahui (Wuhan Jianghan University)
July 22: Denmark v CHINA (Perth Stadium, Perth/Boorloo, 8pm local, 10pm)
July 28: CHINA v Haiti (Perth Stadium, Perth/Boorloo, 7pm local, 9pm)
August 1: CHINA v England (Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide/Tarntanya, 8:30pm local, 9pm)
Verdict: If they prevail over Denmark, a passage to the knockout rounds will be theirs for the taking, but Pernille Harder’s goal threat may be too much to handle. 3rd.
Previous Women’s World Cup appearances: First appearance in 2023
2019 tournament: Did not qualify
Best finish: N/A
Nickname: Les Grenadières Le Rouge et Bleu (The Red and Blue Grenadiers)
Manager: Nicolas Delépine (France)
World ranking: 53rd
While a couple of CONCACAF’s Women’s World Cup representatives in the United States of America and Canada needs little introduction, its lowest-ranked side provides one of the tournament’s best stories.
Haiti, the second-lowest ranked side amongst the 32 in Australia and New Zealand over the next five weeks, are one of eight debutants in 2023, and reached the tournament with a 2-1 win over Chile in February.
While Haiti progressing to the knockouts may seem unlikely, Nicolas Delépine and his charges will surely relish the chance to test themselves against some of the world’s best.
Key player: Roselord Borgella
Club: Dijon (France)
Scoring a brace in the 4-0 intercontinal play-off semi-final win over Senegal to help get Haiti to the Chile clash, Borgella averages just under a goal per game with her national team.
Deployed as a striker in recent times, Borgella is the epitome of versatility, with the only knock on her resumé in that regard is her inexperience with the gloves.
Having played in defence, midfield and attack in years gone by, it looks like it will be the latter where Borgella will be utilised, and all affiliated with the nation hope she will be utilised there to full effect.
Breakout star: Melchie Dumornay
Club: Olympique Lyonnais (France)
Even before Dumornay scored a second deep int second-half stoppage time against Chile to seal Haiti’s place in this winter’s Women’s World Cup, the world was already aware of how much of a talent Haiti had on their hands.
Dumornay has recently completed a switch to Lyon from Reims, who she scored 11 league goals for in 2022-23, helping the club to sixth place in the French top-flight.
Set to turn 20 just days before the Women’s World Cup draws to a close, this could be seen in the future as the tournament where football’s next generational talent was made.
Goalkeepers: Kerly Théus (Miami City), Nahomie Ambroise (Little Haiti), Lara-Sofia Larco (Georgetown University)
Defenders: Chelsea Surpris (Grenoble), Jennyfer Limage (Grenoble), Tabita Joseph (Stade Brestois 29), Maudeline Moryl (Grenoble), Kethna Louis (Montpellier), Betina Petit-Frère (Stade Brestois 29), Ruthny Mathurin (Mississippi State), Milan Raquel Pierre-Jérôme (Georges Mason University), Esthericove Joseph (Exafoot)
Midfielders: Melchie Dumornay (Olympique Lyonnais), Danielle Étienne (Fordham Rams), Sherly Jeudy (Grenoble), Noa Olivia Ganthier (Weston), Dayana Pierre-Louis (GPSO Issy)
Forwards: Batcheba Louis (FC Fleury), Roselord Borgella (Dijon), Roseline Éloissaint (Nantes), Florsie Darlina Joseph (Grenoble), Shwendesky Macelus Joseph (Zenit St Petersburg), Nerilia Mondesir (Montpellier)
July 22: England v HAITI (Brisbane Stadium, Brisbane/Meeanjin, 8pm)
July 28: China v HAITI (Perth Stadium, Perth/Boorloo, 7pm local, 9pm)
August 1: HAITI v Denmark (Perth Stadium, Perth/Boorloo, 7:30pm local, 9:30pm)
Reaching the tournament in itself for the first time is a wonderful feat for Haitian football, but progressing from the group looks a tough ask. 4th.