- Italy on the cusp of third World Cup qualification after 1991 and 1999
- Norway and Republic Ireland to meet twice in a row
- World Cup tournament to be held 7 June – 7 July in nine French cities.
European qualifying for the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™ is entering the home stretch, with some teams looking to secure their berth at the world’s top table as early as this June. Switzerland, Italy, England, the Netherlands, Sweden and Spain are all primed and ready to book their spots.
FIFA.com takes a look at the ties being played 7 – 12 June.
Group 1: England (13 points), Wales (11), Russia (7), Bosnia and Herzegovina (3), Kazakhstan (0)
Group 2: Switzerland (15), Scotland (9), Poland (7), Albania (4), Belarus (3)
Group 3: Netherlands (13), Republic Ireland (10), Norway (9), Northern Ireland (3), Slovakia (0)
Group 4: Sweden (12), Denmark (9), Ukraine (7), Hungary (4), Croatia (2)
Group 5: Germany (15), Iceland (13), Czech Republic (7), Slovenia (3), Faroe Islands (0)
Group 6: Italy (18), Belgium (10), Portugal, Romania (both 4), Moldova (1)
Group 7: Spain (15), Austria, Finland, Serbia (all 7), Israel (1)
The top matches
Group 1: Russia-England, 8 June 2018, 18.00 (local time)
A win against Russia will take the Three Lionesses up to 16 points and set them well on the way to a fourth FIFA Women’s World Cup in a row (and fifth overall). They conclude their qualifying campaign on 31 August against their closest rivals Wales. "This is an excellent opportunity to take a big step towards achieving our goal of getting through to the final phase next year," said England coach Phil Neville before the match. The pressure is sitting squarely on the shoulders of the Welsh – should they fail to win their matches, then England could already secure qualification this June.
Group 2: Belarus-Switzerland, 12 June, 17.00 (local time)
This round of matches will tell us how the Swiss have reacted to the news that coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg will be joining the DFB and taking over the reins of the German national team once the qualifying campaign has come to an end. Switzerland have already given themselves every chance of making it through to the world’s most prestigious tournament for a second time, with 15 points from five matches and a goals for and against record of 15-3. They are well clear at the top of the group and a win will send out a clear message ahead of their August showdown against Scotland, who are their nearest challengers with nine points from four matches.
Group 3: Republic Ireland-Norway, 8 June, 18.30 and 12 June 18.00 (local time)
There is plenty still to play for here, despite the fact that the Netherlands are group leaders and currently in a relatively comfortable position. Norway are lurking in third with a game in hand however, and three points would take them past the Irish and up into second place, closing the gap on the European champions in the process. The two teams will then meet again just four days later in the battle for a FIFA World Cup berth. "It won’t be easy to go to Ireland and bring back the three points, but our clear goal is to get all six and win both matches," said Norway coach Martin Sjögren. "Ireland are defensively very strong and will sit back. We will need to be at the top of our game on both occasions."
Group 6: Italy-Portugal, 8 June, 20.45 (local time)
Things could hardly be rosier in the Italian garden. Coach Milena Bertolini’s charges already have 18 points to their name, and another three against Portugal would allow Le Azzurre to sit back and enjoy their first qualification for a Women's World Cup in 20 years without having to worry about their final match in the campaign, in Belgium on 4 September. Having won their six group matches thus far, they are now within touching distance of their dream. Bertolini will be counting on home support for the tie in Florence, calling on the fans to be "the 12th woman" for the team.