DebinhaKick2_NCCourage_ES.jpg

NC Courage midfielder Debinha passes the ball to a teammate on Friday, July 5, 2019 at the Wake Med Soccer Park. Debinha assisted one goal in the 5-2 win over the Houston Dash.

The North Carolina Courage is hosting this year’s iteration of the Women’s International Champions Cup or WICC. The tournament will take place on Aug. 15 and Aug. 18 with two games each. Joining the Courage in Cary will be Olympique Lyonnais, Atletico de Madrid Femenino and Manchester City.

The first two games of the tournament are Courage vs Manchester City and Atletico vs Lyon, with the winners and losers of each game facing off on August 18. The games will be held at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park on both days. For those unfamiliar with the squads, here is a bit of information about each of the teams participating in the tournament.

North Carolina Courage

The Courage is the reigning NWSL champions and currently sit third in the NWSL table with 28 points from 16 games and are entering the tournament on good form having won three of the last five games. 

The first game of the tournament will be the first home game for the four members of the World USWNT who play for the Courage, with Abby Dahlkemper, Sam Mewis, Crystal Dunn and Jessica McDonald all expected to be available for the tournament. 

In addition to the four USWNT players, the Courage also has three other players who appeared in the World Cup, with Debinha, Abby Erceg and Stephanie Labbé. Beyond the internationals, the Courage has a number of fantastic players, such as forward Kristen Hamilton, who was named NWSL Player of the Month for July.

With the addition of the four returning USWNT players and the number of great players that have been featuring for the club over the past few weeks, the Courage look like strong contenders going into the tournament.

Manchester City Women

The runners-up in the FA Women’s Super League last season, Manchester City Women lost just one game all season and finished seven points behind champions Arsenal. Manchester City has also been very active in the transfer market this summer adding players like Lee Geum-min and Tyler Toland who have both joined the club this past week.

Manchester City is leaving a number of stars out of the squad for the WICC. One such star left out, announced on Friday, is new signee and Three Lionesses star forward Ellen White, who joined the club following the World Cup this summer.

Even with the leaving of White at home, the Sky Blues squad for the tournament still boasts seven players who represented their nation at the World Cup this past summer, including players such as Georgia Stanway, Jill Scott, Demi Stokes, Steph Houghton and Keira Walsh who all made it to the World Cup semi-final with England.

Manchester City is managed by Nick Cushing, who has lead the team to six trophies since he took over in 2013 and has a 74% winning percentage as a manager.

Olympique Lyonnais

Lyon is the most decorated team coming into the WICC, having won 18 Division 1 Féminine (French first division), 10 Coupe de France Féminine and a record six UEFA Women’s Champions League titles.

The French champions have a squad that you would expect given the rich history of winning at the club, with 13 players representing their nation at the World Cup, including English international Lucy Bronze as well as a number of players from the French squad.

The winner of the first inaugural Women’s Ballon d’Or, Ada Hegerberg, also plays for the French champions. The Norwegian forward has refused international call-ups since 2017, which kept the player out of this year’s World Cup, but she is undoubtedly one of, if not the best player in the world currently. 

Lyon appointed current manager Jean-Luc Vasseur on June 17 of this year with the WICC being some of his first games in charge of the team. With the tournament being a part of the team’s preseason, it will be a good chance for Vasseur to experiment with his roster. 

Even with the new manager, Lyon looks the most likely to win the WICC given the depth of its squad and the rich history of winning at the club.

Atletico de Madrid Femenino

The Spanish giants have won the Spanish Primera División in each of the last three seasons and finished as runners-up in the Copa de la Reina in each of those seasons as well.

Madrid is one of the most well-supported teams in Europe with the club’s match against Barcelona holding the record for attendance at a women’s game with 60,739 filling out the Wanda Metropolitano to watch the two Spanish giants clash in March of this year.

The support is no surprise given the success that the club has seen over the past few years along with its squad, which is bursting with talent. Eight players from the squad represented their nation at the World Cup this summer, including Dutch goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal, who won the Golden Glove at the tournament.

With the brilliant squad that the Spanish champions have and the recent success that they have experienced, Atletico de Madrid may not be the favorites for the WICC, but they definitely are capable of winning it.