2023: football highlights in post-World Cup year

2022 was quite the year in the footballing world, with the sport seemingly never out of the sports news headlines. Highlights of the year included the magnificent Lionesses lifting the European Championship trophy on home soil in June, and of course, the thrills and spills of the Qatar World Cup as Lionel Messi finally fulfilled his destiny with Argentina.

World Cup years are always a tough act to follow but, thankfully for football fans, the action just keeps on coming at an almost relentless pace. The domestic and European league and cup competitions, in addition to the Champion’s League continue as ever, ensuring a live TV game is never too far away. 

In addition to the bread and butter of the season, there are also a number of other events taking place in 2023, likely to attract the attention of fans, and have punters paying a visit to the best New betting sites. Here we take a look at five footballing highlights for the year ahead.

FIFA Club World Cup

Dates: 1st – 11th February

A little over a month after the conclusion of events out in Qatar, we have another World Cup on the schedule. Rather than the top national sides, this time it is the clubs who are in pursuit of glory, as the champions of the six FIFA regions – plus the national champions of host nation Morocco – lock horns.

Traditionally held in December, the tournament has been pushed back to this February slot as a consequence of the first-ever winter World Cup. Brazilian giants Flamengo and European champions, Real Madrid – who have won this on four previous occasions – will be hot favourites to lift the trophy, with outsiders Seattle Sounders, Auckland City, Al-Hilal, Wydad Casablanca and Al Ahly all hoping to cause a shock.

UEFA Nation’s League Finals

Dates: 14th – 18th June

Highly praised upon its introduction in 2018/19, the UEFA Nation’s League continues to add a steady stream of competitive fixtures to the international scene. No doubt the tournament doesn’t boast anything like the prestige of a World Cup, or European Championship, but the games are a definite upgrade on a programme of meaningless friendlies.

Won by Portugal in 2018/19, and France in the second edition of 2020/21, we will have a new name on the trophy this year, with neither of those nations having made it through to the final four. But who will it be? Spain and the Netherlands will likely be keen to go one better, having been the losing finalists in the first two editions; Italy will be looking to rebound from their failure to qualify for the World Cup, whilst Croatia are the form side following their deep run in Qatar.

AFC Asian Cup

Dates: 16th June – 16th July (subject to change)

Having just held the biggest international football competition on the planet, Qatar is set to play host to another. Initially projected to take place in China, the AFC Asian Cup has now been rerouted to the Gulf nation, with a tentative date set for mid-June to July – although a spot later in the year is looking increasingly likely.

Newly expanded for this latest edition, a total of 24 nations will take part in the finals, including Qatar, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, who were all seen in action at the World Cup Finals. Qatar arrive as the defending champions but will have stiff competition to hold onto their crown in what looks set to be an exciting event.

UEFA European Under-21 Championship

Dates: 21st June – 8th July

With the Premier League season drawing to a close on 28th May, football fans will likely be on the lookout for quality action to keep them entertained over those lean summer months. Happily, 2023 provides a double salvo of international tournaments. The first kicks off in June, as 16 Nations head to Romania and Georgia for the latest edition of the biennial European Under-21 Championships.

England comfortably qualified for the finals and will be looking to win the competition for the first time since 1984 – not quite 1966, but still quite a long interval. Lying in wait in Group C are the Czech Republic, Israel and defending champions, Germany.

FIFA Women’s World Cup

Dates: 20th July – 20th August

Just 12 days after the conclusion of the European Under-21 Championships, attention turns to New Zealand and Australia, for the ninth edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup. The tournament now mirrors the men’s version having been expanded to 32 nations for the first time, and given the increasing profile of the women’s game, this edition may be the most popular yet.

Number 1 seeds the USA will be looking to extend their domination of the sport, having won four of the previous eight editions of the World Cup, including each of the last 2. They surely won’t have things all their own way though, with the likes of Sweden, Germany, and of course, England’s Lionesses amongst the opposition.

Featured image credit: Pixabay

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