2019 FIFA Women's World Cup: What you need to know

2019 FIFA Women's World Cup: What you need to know
FOX Sports will carry English broadcasts of matches in the United States.

The eighth edition of the FIFA Women's World Cup kicks off on Friday with host nation France facing South Korea. Similar to the men's edition, the women's is played every four years to determine which nation reigns supreme in international soccer.

The basics

Who: 24 nations played their way in through qualifiers. Teams are divided into groups of four with the top two from each group and four third place teams advancing to the knockout stage. During the group stage, a win is worth three points, a tie is worth one and a loss is worth zero.

The knockout round consists of single elimination matches until one team is left.

What: A new FIFA Women's champion will be decided

When: June 7 to July 7

Where: Matches will take place across nine French cities - Lyon, Paris, Nice, Montpellier, Rennes, Le Havre, Valenciennes, Reims and Grenoble.

How to watch

Matches will be broadcast in the United States in English on FOX, FS1 or FS2 and in Spanish on Telemundo, Telemundo Deportes and NBC Universo.

A list of TV listings can be found here:

Which team is favored to win

Depending on where you look, the United States and France are the main favorites to win followed by Germany. England, Netherlands, Australia Japan and Canada round out the list of teams with a chance to surprise.

The United States are the defending champions after winning at Canada 2015 and are looking to become the second nation to win back-to-back Women's World Cups after Germany (2003, 2007). France are favored due to their quality of players and the fact that they are playing at home. It is expected, if both win their groups, that the U.S. and France face off in the quarterfinals.

Players to keep and eye on

Alex Morgan (USA), Sam Kerr (Australia), Eugenie Le Sommer (France), Kim Little (Scotland), Christine Sinclair (Canada), Tobin Heath (USA)

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Is leadership the main problem for Houston? Composite Getty Image.

With the Astros now officially ten games under .500 for the season, manager Joe Espada is taking a lot of heat from the fanbase for the team's struggles.

While we don't agree with the sentiment, we even hear fans clamoring for the return of Dusty Baker and Martin Maldonado, thinking the Astros wouldn't be in this mess if they were still here.

Which is ridiculous. First of all, Maldonado has been awful for the White Sox, hitting .048 (even worse than Jose Abreu's .065). And for those of you that think his work with the pitching staff justifies his pathetic offense. Let me say this: Where was Maldy's game calling genius for Hunter Brown, Cristian Javier, and Framber Valdez last year? All of them regressed significantly.

And as far as Baker is concerned, we have no idea how much a difference he would make, we can only speculate. Baker would also be dealing with a pitching staff ravaged with injuries. And let's not forget, Baker was the guy that refused to move Jose Abreu down in the batting order, even though he would finish the regular season with the ninth-worst OPS in baseball.

The reality of the situation is managers can only do so much in baseball. Which leads us to something else that needs to be considered. Is Espada being handcuffed by the front office? Espada and GM Dana Brown both said recently that Jon Singleton was going to get more at-bats while they give Abreu time off to try to figure things out. Yet, there Abreu was in the lineup again in the opening game of the Cubs series.

It makes us wonder how much power does Espada truly have? The Astros have some other options at first base. Yainer Diaz may only have eight games played at the position, but how much worse could he be than Abreu defensively? Abreu already has four errors, and Diaz is obviously a way better hitter. Victor Caratini isn't considered a plus offensive player, but his .276 batting average makes him look like Babe Ruth compared to Abreu. Let him catch more often and play Diaz at first. Starting Diaz at first more often could also lengthen his career long-term.

Maybe that's too wild of a move. Okay, fine. How about playing Mauricio Dubon at first base? I understand he doesn't have much experience at that position, but what's the downside of trying him there? If he can play shortstop, he can play first base. He's driving in runs at a higher rate (11 RBIs) than everyone on the team outside of Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez. And he's producing like that as part-time player right now.

The other criticism we see of Espada is his use of Jon Singleton to pinch hit late in games. Let's be real, though, who else does Espada have on the roster to go to? Batting Abreu late in games in which you're trailing should be considered malpractice. Espada can only use who he has to work with. This all really stems from the Astros poor farm system.

They don't have anyone else to turn to. The draft picks the club lost from the sign-stealing scandal are really hurting them right now. First and second rounders from 2020 and 2021 should be helping you in 2024 at the big league level.

Maybe they go to Astros prospect Joey Loperfido soon, but after a hot start he has only two hits in his last six games.

Finally, we have to talk about what seems like a committee making baseball decisions. Lost in a committee is accountability. Who gets the blame for making poor decisions?

As time continues to pass it looks like moving on from former GM James Click was a massive mistake. He's the guy that didn't sign Abreu, but did trade Myles Straw (recently DFA'd) for Yainer Diaz and Phil Maton. He also built an elite bullpen without breaking the bank, and helped the club win a World Series in 2022.

The reality of the situation is Dusty Baker and James Click are not walking back through that door. And all good runs come to an end at some point. Is this what we're witnessing?

Don't miss the video above as we hit on all the points discussed and much more!

Catch Stone Cold 'Stros (an Astros podcast) with Charlie Pallilo, Brandon Strange, and Josh Jordan. We drop two episodes every week on SportsMapHouston's YouTube channel. You can also listen on Apple Podcast, Spotifyor wherever you get your podcasts.

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