Tokyo Olympics 2021: How does the women’s football tournament work?

·2-min read
 (Getty Images for British Olympic)
(Getty Images for British Olympic)

Team GB kick the competition off, most of the world’s best players are in action and the summer of football just keeps on rolling. So how does the women’s Olympic tournament work?

Well first of all mark in your diary that it kicks off on Wednesday morning - two days before the Games officially begin.

It’s a straightforward affair really. 12 teams from across the globe compete in three groups, with the top two in each plus the two best third-placed sides heading into the knockout stage.

Defending champions Germany didn’t qualify, GB are in for the first time since 2012 and the USA team is very strong indeed.

Here’s what you need to know...

When does it start?

GB start the competition when they take on Chile on Wednesday, 21 July (8.30am BST).

Also in their group are hosts Japan and Canada, who have won bronze on two occasions.

Unlike the men’s event, where only three players over the age of 23 can represent their country, there are no restrictions for the women.

Tokyo Olympics 2021 sport-by-sport schedule and venues

Who is in the GB squad?

An 18-player squad was originally selected, including 15 from England, two from Scotland and one from Wales, but that number has now increased to 22 which includes the four named on the reserve list.

No players from Northern Ireland are in the squad.

England’s Steph Houghton, Scotland’s Kim Little and Wales’ Sophie Ingle have all been named as captains and will wear the armband on rotation throughout the tournament.

Other big names include Lucy Bronze, Jill Scott, Leah Williamson, Ellen White and Fran Kirby.

Who are favourites?

Can anyone stop the USA? (Getty Images)
Can anyone stop the USA? (Getty Images)

They’ve won the last two World Cups and their squad is stacked with talent - it’s hard to look past the United States for gold.

In Rio five years ago they were surprisingly knocked out on penalties in the quarter-finals by Sweden, who they meet in their opening group game on Wednesday (9.30am BST).

Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle are all in the squad.

Brazil have legends Marta and Formiga competing, the latter in her seventh Games at the age of 43, while the Netherlands squad includes forward Lieke Martens, who won the treble with Barcelona last season, and Arsenal striker Vivianne Miedema.

Chelsea’s Sam Kerr will captain Australia while club team-mate Magda Eriksson is one of Sweden’s key players.

When is the final?

The women’s Olympic football final takes place on Friday, 6 August (3am BST).

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