FIFA Women's World Cup 2019: What the Experts Say, Predictions

The eighth edition of the FIFA Women's World Cup might be the hardest to call yet, according to experts.

The tournament gets underway on Friday, June 7, when France takes on South Korea in Paris.

The hosts are the bookmakers' second-favorite to win the tournament behind the U.S. Women's National Team (USWNT).

The U.S. claimed an unprecedented third World Cup four years ago when they beat Japan 5-2 in the final, but retaining the title will be far from straightforward.

USWNT should top Group F, which also contains Thailand, Chile and Sweden and will then face the runner-up in Group B. Assuming Germany would top the group, the U.S. could play one of South Africa, Spain or China.

Should USWNT reach the semifinal, however, its path to the final will likely have to go through France, with the game to be played in Paris.

Elsewhere in the draw, Australia and England could resume their rivalry in the quarter finals, while the Netherlands, Norway and Japan could cause an upset or two.

Here's how some experts expect the tournament to pan out.

Germany, Women's World Cup
The official World Cup match ball is seen at to a press conference prior the match between Germany and China on June 7 in Rennes, France. Getty/Maja Hitij

Grant Wahl—Sports Illustrated and Fox Sports TV

The bookmakers consider the U.S.A. and France as the top two favorites to lift the World Cup and Wahl agrees.

"The team that wins the France-USA semifinal in Paris will win the 2019 Women's World Cup," he wrote.

"Too many people think France is poised to take down the U.S. in that game, but this French team has too much of a history when it comes to choking in big tournaments, and I think that's what will happen here as well."

Hope Solo—Team USA goalkeeper 2000-2016

Solo won the World Cup with the USWNT team in 2015 after finishing runner up four years earlier but doesn't believe her former teammates will defend the title.

"France is the team to beat. Overall they have the best team and have a beautiful fluidity to their play," she was quoted as saying by BBC Sport.

"I just hope they don't let the pressure of a home World Cup get to them."

Ian Darke—ESPN.com writer

Darke believes this eighth edition of the World Cup will be the hardest to call yet, but USWNT should have enough to defend the title.

"Countries that once paid lip service to the women's game are now taking it seriously. Standards of coaching, fitness, skills and professionalism are rising fast," he wrote.

"Witness the Netherlands and Denmark surprisingly contesting the last European Championship final, rather than once dominant Germany. That said, the three-time champion U.S. will still take all the beating," Darke added.

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

Alex Scott—Sky Sports pundit and former England full-back 2004-2017

England arrive into the World Cup as potential dark horses after winning the SheBelieves Cup in March and Scott suggests Phil Neville's team can go all the way.

"Winning the SheBelieves Cup was huge for confidence and belief but now it's doing the same again when the pressure is on and in the 'no tomorrow' games," she told BBC Sport.

Louise Taylor—The Guardian north east soccer correspondent

The World Cup returns to Europe for the third time and Taylor expects two European teams to contest the final.

"England and Germany [to make the final] with the Lionesses to win," she wrote.

"This hinges on England topping group D which is a big if. Should they do so, though, the run to the semi-finals—and victory against France or a transitional USA—looks potentially kind. England do not want to finish second and possibly face Canada in the last 16.

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