The USWNT, Matildas and Team GB are all set to compete in the upcoming Olympics. Here’s a list of players to watch for each team.
The USWNT’s Tobin Heath, Matildas’ Ellie Carpenter, Team GB’s Caroline Weir among Olympic players to watch is a list of athletes that will be playing in the upcoming Olympics.
While the men’s football tournament at the Olympics is often a chance to see some up-and-coming talent, the women’s competition is full with both fresh and familiar faces.
There will be even more talent on show in Tokyo this year, with no age restrictions in the women’s competition and teams being extended this year due to COVID-19 safeguards. Coaches are allowed to bring up to 22 players, but must choose 18 on matchday.
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While many of the game’s veterans return, many new talents will be hoping to make their mark. The US women’s national team has the greatest claim to being tournament favorites; they are attempting to create history by being the first team to win both a World Cup and an Olympic gold medal in the same year; nevertheless, 11 other countries are attempting to derail them.
Here are ESPN’s choices for the athletes to keep an eye on throughout the tournament.
There will be plenty of star power in Tokyo, even if Tobin Heath and the USWNT are gold medal favorites. ISI Photos/Getty Images/Howard Smith
Endler, Christiane (Chile)
The six-time Chilean Player of the Year is widely regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers in the world, and her experience will be crucial as they face gold hopefuls Canada and Great Britain, as well as hosts Japan, in their group. Last season, she only allowed four goals in Division 1 Feminine, helping Paris Saint-Germain win the league for the first time. As a result, she was offered a position with European behemoths Lyon. Endler’s distribution is one of her greatest strengths, and she is always one to watch, especially when it comes to defending set pieces.
Caroline Weir is a writer from the United Kingdom (Team GB)
Although England’s players dominate Team Great Britain, it is a testimony to Caroline Weir’s skill that she would be the first name on many people’s teamsheet. Her teammates have compared her to Eric Cantona because of her ability to score spectacular goals from the outside of the box. Weir is a key part of Hege Riise’s team because of her technical skills as well as her scoring ability. She has an 85 percent pass completion percentage and is comfortable with the ball in her hands, averaging 60 to 70 touches each game. With so many of her Manchester City colleagues on the team, she’ll be in good shape to score some more Puskas Award-worthy goals.
Caroline Weir is an important member of Team Great Britain. Getty Images/Lynne Cameron – The FA/The FA
Mana Iwabuchi is a Japanese actress (Japan)
When Iwabuchi chose to join Aston Villa last season, several people were surprised. The seasoned striker has played with some of the greatest players in the world. She only scored two goals, but with an average of over 70 touches each game, she clearly cares about the build-up. A huge transfer to Arsenal at the start of the summer, where she’ll be reunited with former Bayern Munich colleagues Vivianne Miedema and Lisa Evans, should provide her with more opportunities to flourish, and there’s no better place to start than with Japan in the Olympics. She is a real danger on the ball, since she is precise and deliberate.
Martens, Lieke (Netherlands)
Vivianne Miedema is often cited as the highlight of the Netherlands’ team, and although her goal-scoring record speaks for itself, the European champions have plenty of other quality. Martens, who won the Primera Iberdrola and the Champions League with Barcelona this season, is one such name that stands out. The Catalan club’s supremacy at home and abroad was unparalleled, and Martens was instrumental in bringing the squad there. She is graceful on the ball and prefers to play wide before utilizing her technical skills to sneak behind defenders or attempt a shot. With matches against China, Brazil, and Zambia, the Netherlands have perhaps the easiest group in the tournament, but Martens may have some spectacular moments.
Carpenter, Ellie (Australia)
The young Australian star has established a reputation for herself in Europe, and her abilities will be required as her team faces one of the most difficult groups in the draw. In the lead-up to the Olympics, the Matildas have struggled in games, but Carpenter has consistently been a strong performer. With opponents fully aware of Sam Kerr’s danger, having other alternatives going forward has been crucial, and Carpenter’s ability to sprint up the wing from defense and turn attacker has just added to Tony Gustavsson’s value. Despite being the fifth-youngest player on the team, she offers a mature style of play that, if properly used, may be a vital component of the Matildas’ success.
Ellie Carpenter must continue to be a star performer for the Matildas. Getty Images/Masashi Hara
Magda Eriksson is a Swedish actress (Sweden)
With Sweden regarded as one of the major opponents to the USWNT’s quest for history, the Chelsea captain’s experience will be essential. The team is filled with young, dynamic players like Hanna Bennison, but Eriksson’s significance cannot be overstated. Eriksson was part of the silver-medal-winning team at Rio 2016, and following a heartbreaking loss to Barcelona in the Champions League final, she will be looking for further silverware. She’s technically talented, and Chelsea manager Emma Hayes has often said that she might have a future as a coach because of her football brain. Watch her lead the Swedish defense against some of the greatest forwards in the world, and marvel at how she appears to know exactly what they’re going to do before they do it.
Heath, Tobin (United States)
Tobin Heath isn’t a household name, but she’s had a tough season due to injuries. She faced a battle to be healthy in time for the Olympics after missing the second part of the Women’s Super League season with Manchester United. There was some doubt about Vlatko Andonovski’s decision to send her on this trip, but she addressed all of these questions and more with her return against Mexico. Two goals in two games proved she’s ready to contend for a starting position, and we may be in for some Heath magic in Tokyo after such a long layoff. Watch for her to grab the ball from the opponent and dash past the defense before unleashing a thunderous shot that will leave even the greatest goalkeepers helpless.