The top women's national teams in the world have an eye toward the 2015 World Cup, but they must first compete for a title in the prestigious 2014 Algarve Cup.
This year's event will once again take place in Portugal and will feature 12 squads battling in a round-robin tournament. However, only the top eight-ranked teams (included in Groups A and B) have a chance to come away as winners.
The United States has been the dominant force at this tournament over the years, winning eight of the last 11 titles, including in 2013 with a finals win over Germany. The Germans now return to avenge this loss and bring back the trophy after winning in 2012.
Additionally, 2011 World Cup winners Japan should remain a top contender for the cup, as well as Sweden, Norway and other talented teams.
Team USA head coach Tom Sermanni explained how tough the competition will be, via USSoccer.com:
The group we’re in at the Algarve Cup will probably be the most significant test since I’ve come aboard and a different kind of challenge as we will be playing teams that have the belief and aim to come out to attack us and beat us. The dynamics of these games will be different than some of the more recent matches, and that’s something that we want, that we need and that the players are looking forward to.
This will obviously create a competitive atmosphere. The only question is which squad will be able to handle the pressure and come away with a title.
Follow this tracker for the latest results and recaps of each day of action throughout the 2014 Algarve Cup.