The major football tournament of the summer is upon us, with the Women’s World Cup set to take place in Australia and New Zealand.
It’s the pinnacle of the women's game, with a bigger spotlight than ever before shone on the best players in the world as millions tune in to watch.
Sarina Wiegman’s England side are looking to add the World Cup to their collection after victory in the Euros in 2022, but they’ll have to do so despite a number of injuries to key players in the squad.
England fans are still hoping they'll be in the mix as the tournament progresses, and all eyes will be on the final when it eventually takes place on August 20.
Widely recognised as the finest player in the history of the women’s game, Marta has an incredible 17 goals at world cups – and this is her finest.
This solo goal against the USA, one of the most perfect demonstrations of her talent, sees her pick the ball up on the left side of the pitch without many options in front of her. Rather than knock the ball back, she pulls off a ridiculous flick over the defender and cuts past a defender in the box before firing low past the keeper. It’s Brazilian samba at its best, and a clear indicator of just why Marta is so highly regarded in the context of the game’s greats.
Everyone loves a goal from the halfway line, don’t they?
Carli Lloyd put the 2015 World Cup final beyond the reach of Japan by scoring a blistering hat-trick in the space of just the first 16 minutes, but it was the long-range third goal that will live longest in the memory.
Clearly full of confidence from the first two goals, Lloyd charged forward before thumping the ball into the net from halfway up the pitch. It’s a great goal, made all the more aesthetically pleasing by a despairing dive from the backpedaling keeper.
It helped the USA to a commanding 5-2 win, securing the USA their first Women’s World Cup since 1999.
When you first start watching this clip, you see the ball being rolled out to the centre back, and assume it’s going to be a team goal consisting of patient build-up play and endless passing. Only, it’s not that at all – instead, the ball is played up the pitch direct, before being cut off by the onrushing keeper. It then lands at the feet of Nahomi Kawasumi, who takes one perfect touch, before showing outstanding technique and volleying it high into the vacant net.
Hege Riise – Norway vs Germany, 1995
We particularly like this goal because it’s the kind you’d dream about scoring in the playground at school, and there’s a purity about the eagerness to break through the defence with the dribble that we’re really into. Yes, there’s a little luck involved to get past the first defender, but Hege Riise tricked her way past a succession of oncoming challenges before slotting home astutely past the keeper to provide one of the best goals of the Women’s World Cup in the 90s.
Perhaps we’re just buying into cliches here, but there’s an exuberance about this goal that feels like it could only have been scored by a Brazilian side. First off, there’s a lovely ball bent out to the winger with the outside of the foot, before some great work out wide. But it’s all about the exquisite touch over the defender’s head from Erika, before unleashing an unstoppable effort into the bottom corner on the volley. Rarely do you see so much showboating at major tournaments.
Ingrid Johansson – Sweden vs USA 1991
This is the kind of goal that can be appreciated at any level of football, in any context. After all, what’s not to like about a total thunder b**tard from about 40 yards out? Swedish midfielder Ingrid Johansson unleashed an unstoppable effort against the USA at the 1991 World Cup finals which deserves to be remembered as one of the best ever scored at the finals. There could have been two keepers in goal and they wouldn’t have got a glove on it. Outstanding stuff.
Maren Mjelde – Norway vs Germany, 2015
We’ve watched this clip dozens of times now, and we still can’t work out how Norway’s Maren Mjelde manages to get the ball up and over the wall here. The precision it takes to clip the ball perfectly into the postage stamp from all of 12 yards is impressive in itself, and you can almost hear the ball fizzing with spin by the time it goes in. The fact it just clips the bar on its way in somehow makes it all the more pleasing too.
Lucy Bronze – England vs Norway, 2019
This thunderous strike from England’s star player Lucy Bronze nearly cut the keeper in half during the Lionesses’ game with Norway back in 2019, such was the force it hit the back of the net with.
A simple, but well-worked free-kick routine saw the ball dragged back to an unmarked Bronze on the edge of the area. There, the marauding right-back caught the ball cleanly, first time, thumping it through a wall of players and giving the keeper no chance. Could it be England’s best goal in major tournaments? Quite possibly.
Ajara Nchout – Cameroon vs New Zealand 2019
Forwards sending defenders for hotdogs with well-timed cutbacks will always be a pleasing thing to watch – especially if the end result is a goal as good as Ajara Nchout’s effort against New Zealand in 2019. The strike came in stoppage time and was enough to send Cameroon to the Round of 16, and the celebrations show exactly what the goal meant to the entire squad.
Mizuho Sakaguchi – Japan vs The Netherlands 2015
As silky as they come, this wonderful effort from Mizuho Sakaguchi captures a snapshot of a team in perfect understanding with one another. An intricate move culminates in a pass being played in square from the left edge of the box. There, Sakaguchi’s teammate steps over the ball, leaving it for her to bend a stunning effort round the defenders and into the corner.
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