The Olympic Games are a major event on the women’s international football calendar and are undoubtedly ranked alongside the World Cup in terms of performance.
Unlike the men’s tournament, there are no age restrictions, which means it is full of world-class players and has seen countless legends of the game compete over the years.
Here is a look at everything you need to know about women’s football at the 2020 Olympics …
Britain is back at the Olympics for the first time since 2012 / Alex Davidson / Getty Images
Brazil: Copa America winner
New Zealand: OFC Nations Cup winner
Great Britain, Netherlands, Sweden: Top 3 European sides at the World Cup
USA, Canada: CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament
Zambia: CAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament
Australia, China: AFC Olympic Qualifying Tournament
Chile: CAF / CONMEBOL playoffs
USWNT are heavy favorites to win the gold medal / Brad Smith / ISI Photos / Getty Images
It’s really hard to see beyond the United States catching gold this summer. The majority of the squad won the 2019 World Cup, they have won 39 of their last 41 matches which stretch back to March 2019 and are undefeated since January 2019.
After historically dominating women’s football at the Olympics, they also have a point to prove after going home without a medal of any color in 2016 for the first time ever.
If an outrage happens – Sweden pulled one off to beat the United States in the quarter-final phase last time – others will hope to benefit. Sweden, Great Britain, Canada, Japan, the Netherlands, Brazil and Australia will all like their chances of at least getting a medal in a little color.
Japan is expected to do well as hosts, despite a lack of fans / Masashi Hara / Getty Images
The 12 competing countries have been divided into three groups (EC) of four as follows:
Group E: Japan, Canada, UK, Chile
Group F: China, Brazil, Zambia, the Netherlands
Group G: Sweden, USA, Netherlands, New Zealand
Each team plays each other in the group once in a typical round robin format, where the two best in each group automatically qualify for the quarterfinals. They will also be accompanied by the two best third-place teams in the knockout phase.
The two finalists will compete for the gold medal, where second place will go to silver, while the two losing semifinalists will enter the playoffs to see who takes home the bronze medal.
Canada has won bronze medals 2012 & 2016 / Michael Janosz / ISI Photos / Getty Images
The first matches in women’s football will take place on July 21, two days before the inauguration ceremony officially declares that these Olympics are open.
The group game ends on July 27, with the knockout bracket starting three days later and continuing until the gold medal match on August 6.
July 21: Great Britain vs Chile (E), Japan vs Canada (E), China vs Brazil (F), Zambia vs Netherlands (F), Sweden vs USA (G), Australia vs New Zealand (G)
July 24: Chile vs Canada (E), Japan vs Great Britain (E), China vs Zambia (F), Netherlands vs Brazil (F), Sweden vs Australia (G), New Zealand vs USA (G)
July 27: Chile vs Japan (E), Canada vs Great Britain (E), Netherlands vs China (F), Brazil vs Zambia (F), New Zealand vs Sweden (G), USA vs Australia (G)
July 30: Quarterfinals
August 2: Semifinals
5 August: Bronze medal match
August 6: Gold medal match
Tokyo’s new national stadium hosts the gold medal match / SOPA Images / Getty Images
Although the Olympics are always based in a single city, the football tournament is usually spread a little further across the host nation to gain access to arenas.
This year is no exception, with games taking place in the cities of Sapporo, Rifu, Kashima and nearby Saitama and Yokohama in addition to Tokyo itself.
The gold medal match will be played at the new National Stadium in Tokyo, which opened in 2019 and has been rebuilt on the site of the original arena that hosted the 1964 Olympics. The same venue will also be used for opening and closing ceremonies and athletics.
Lauren Hemp is England & GB’s growing star / Karl Bridgeman / Getty Images
Lauren Hemp (UK)
Hemp is the brightest young talent that British football has to offer and has already become an important player in a very good Manchester City side. She turns 21 the day after the gold medal match and this is her first major senior tournament ever.
At 35, the legend of Marta quickly takes time to gain a global title. She is a six-time FIFA award winner, has Olympic silver medals from 2004 and 2008 and will be determined to inspire a decent Brazil to something more.
Lieke Martens (Netherlands)
After a sensational club season 2020/21 with Barcelona, who won the Champions League as part of a historic treble, Martens is over the injuries that held her back and has returned to something similar to her vintage 2017 when she inspired the Netherlands to the European Championship 2017 title .
Friodolina Rolfo (Sweden)
Rolfo has recently sealed a transfer to Barcelona at club level, with the task of making the Catalans even better next season. She helped Sweden to finish third at the 2019 World Cup and win a silver medal at the recent Olympics and will have a crucial role to play.
Sweden’s Fridolina Rolfo has recently signed for Barcelona / Quality Sport Images / Getty Images
Sam Kerr (Australia)
If Australia is to win an Olympic medal for the first time, Sam Kerr will play a major role in it. She scored five goals at the last World Cup, was considered the top female player in the world by The Guardian 2019 and has just scored 21 goals for Chelsea to the WSL’s gold boot.
Kristie Mewis (USA)
Mewis was the only member of the original 18-player USWNT list for this tournament not to win the 2019 World Cup. The Houston Dash midfielder, Sam’s older sister, made his international debut in 2013 but has had an incredible comeback since 2019.
In the UK, the entire Olympics is available on BBC platforms, whether it is channel broadcasts (BBC1, BBC2, BBC4), the red button, the BBC website or iPlayer.
In the USA, you can play Olympic football via fuboTV.
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