PARIS — The defending champion United States is grouped with Sweden again for the Women's World Cup next summer in France.
The draw, which determined the group stage for the 24 teams set to play in soccer's premier tournament, was held Saturday at a gala event in Paris amid a backdrop of unrest in the country.
Host France will open the World Cup on June 7 with a match against South Korea in Paris.
The Americans defeated Japan 5-2 — highlighted by Carli Lloyd's hat trick — in Canada in 2015. The U.S. has played in every World Cup since the competition started in 1991, winning the inaugural event and also in 1999.
The No. 1-ranked U.S. team landed in the same group with Sweden for the fifth straight World Cup and the sixth time overall. Also in Group F are Thailand and Chile, which is making its World Cup debut.
The United States will open the tournament against Thailand in Reims on June 11.
Sweden, ranked No. 9 in the world in the latest FIFA rankings, will face its American foes on June 20 in Le Havre. It will be the final group match for both teams.
"This is the first time for me (against the U.S.) but I know about the history, tough games during many years. We feel that we have a chance and that's the most important thing," said coach Peter Gerhardsson, who took over the team after Pia Sundhage's retirement in 2017.
The game will be a rematch of the Olympic quarterfinal in Brazil, where Sweden advanced on penalties after a 1-1 draw. Afterward, U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo famously called the Swedes "cowards" for bunkering on defense.
"It's a good draw for us, it pits against a couple of teams we're not that familiar with, which I like and then obviously Sweden. I like having Sweden in the third game because it allows us to settle into the tournament," said U.S. coach Jill Ellis, who was in Paris for the draw.
The pots for the draw were based on the world ranking, except that No. 3 France, as host, was atop the first pot, followed by the top-ranked U.S., Germany, England, Canada and Australia. The updated FIFA rankings were released on Friday.
France has gone 7-1-2 this year, with the loss coming against England in the SheBelieves Cup in the United States. This will be the fourth World Cup for Les Bleues.
Didier Deschamps, who coached the French men to victory in that side's World Cup in Russia five months ago, got a huge roar Saturday as he walked onto stage. He said he's confident in Les Bleues under coach Corinne Diacre.
"I don't have advice to give to Corinne, she knows women's football far better than me. We've spoken several times, she knows that I'm at her disposal," he said. "Obviously there's a lot of expectation from the fans and media. Corinne and her staff know what awaits, but that shouldn't be a negative thing."
England, ranked No. 4 in the world, drew a difficult group that includes No. 8 Japan and Scotland. England was the surprise third-place finisher in Canada and has been on the rise in the past several years. The squad is coached by Phil Neville, a former Manchester United and England defender who played in three European Championships.
The Lionesses have gone 7-2-3 under Neville this year.
Also drawing a tough group was No. 6 Australia, which is joined by No. 10 Brazil and superstar Marta, who will be playing in her fifth World Cup. Australia defeated Brazil 1-0 in the Round of 16 in Canada.
It will be the seventh World Cup for the Matildas, who went 7-4-6 this year.
"The first immediate instinct is: It wouldn't be a major football tournament for the Matildas unless we had to play Brazil — 2007, 2011, 2015 and now 2019, and the Olympics we've crossed with Brazil," coach Allen Stajcic said. "So very exciting to be playing them again, with and we've beaten each other so many times over the past few tournaments so it's just exciting to be playing them again."
The United States went undefeated in play this year, finishing 18-0-2, including a 2-0 victory over Canada in the final of the CONCACAF qualifying tournament. The team's overall unbeaten streak is at 28 games, dating to a 1-0 loss to Australia in the 2017 Tournament of Nations.
Lloyd, who attended the draw event, was asked if she was confident the United States can defend its title.
"Pretty confident, I must say," she said. "This squad is as talented as can be, we've got the depth and a great coaching staff in place."
The draw took place inside La Seine Musicale, a dome-shaped concert hall perched over the river Seine on the outskirts of Paris — and far enough away from the center not to be affected by the vehement anti-government demonstrations taking place in the country.
The groups that will play next year in France:
Group A: France, South Korea, Norway, Nigeria.
Group B: Germany, China, Spain, South Africa.
Group C: Australia, Italy, Brazil, Jamaica.
Group D: England, Scotland, Argentina, Japan.
Group E: Canada, Cameroon, New Zealand, Netherlands.
Group F: United States, Thailand, Chile, Sweden.