Women's World Cup 2019: Google Doodle Marks Start of Soccer Tournament—Here's What You Need to Know

Google has unveiled a new Doodle to mark to celebrate FIFA Women's World Cup, which gets underway on Friday, June 7.

France hosts the eighth edition of the tournament, as the tournament returns to Europe for the first time since 2011 and for the third time overall.

The World Cup kicks off in Paris on June 7 when the hosts take on South Korea and ends a month later with the final in Lyon. Aside from the two cities, matches will be played in another seven venues—Grenoble, Le Havre, Montpellier, Nice, Reims, Rennes and Valenciennes.

Here's everything you need to know about the tournament.

How many teams are at the World Cup?

There are 24 teams split across six groups of four. Aside from France, Europe has another eight representatives—Germany, Norway, England, Italy, Scotland, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands.

North and the Caribbean are represented by the U.S., Canada and Jamaica, while Argentina, Brazil and Chile will fly the flag for South America. Africa is represented by Cameroon, Nigeria and South Africa.

New Zealand is the only Oceania representative because Australia competes in the Asian federation. The Matildas are one of the five AFC teams at the World Cup, along with Japan, China, Thailand and South Korea.

Tournament format

The 24 teams are split into six groups of four, with teams playing each other once. The top two teams in each group progress through to the quarter-finals, as do the four best third-placed teams.

From the quarter-finals onward the tournament follows the traditional knockout format.

Alex Morgan, USWNT
Captain Alex Morgan #13 of United States holds her hand to her heart with the stars and stripes next to her at the start of the International Friendly match the U.S. Women's National Team and Mexico as part of the Send Off Series prior to the FIFA Women's World Cup at Red Bull Arena on May 26 in Harrison, NJ, USA. The United States Women's National team won the match with a score of 3 to 0. Getty/Ira L. Black/Corbis

Who are the favorites?

Bookmakers are backing the U.S. to defend its title and win an unprecedented fourth World Cup.

According to data compiled by Oddshark, Team USA is a 3/1 favorite (+300 in moneyline terms) followed by France at 7/2, while Germany and England are at 5/1 and 6/1, respectively.

England defeated Germany in the third spot playoff four years ago and won the SheBelieves Cup earlier this year.

Winner in 2011 and runner-up four years ago, Japan is a 12/1 outsider.

When does Team USA play?

The defending champions make their tournament debut next week, when they take on Thailand in Reims on June 11 at 9 p.m. local time (3 p.m. ET). They then take on Chile in Paris on June 16, before facing Sweden in Le Havre on June 20.

Players to keep an eye on

In a side packed with talent, Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan are arguably the two brightest stars of the U.S. team.

The Netherlands can count on Lieke Martens, who impressed at the European Championship in 2017, and Vivianne Miedeman, arguably the best striker in the world.

England boasts the offensive talent of Barcelona star Toni Duggan and Chelsea forward Fran Kirby.

The best player in the world will not feature in France. Ada Hegerberg retired from international soccer two years ago because of a protest against the Norwegian federation.

Her absence is a real shame as the 23-year-old Lyon striker won the inaugural women's Ballon d'Or last year and has won the French league and the Champions League in each of the last four seasons.

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