This is the matchup that, when the draw was made, everybody had penciled in as possibly the best one of the tournament. Several games between the two over the last few years have been very good games as they are two of the best women’s teams in the world. While some are concerned that the war of words between Megan Rapinoe and President Donald Trump regarding an invitation to the White House may overshadow the game, the level of hype both before the tournament and once the quarterfinal matchups were set, should ensure that the game will be most everybody’s primary focus. It should be a fantastic environment as the USWNT takes on the hosts, France.
In their Round of 16 game against Spain, the US was pushed pretty much to the brink. Things started off bright enough, as Rapinoe dispatched a penalty inside the first ten minutes and there was a sense that, despite Spain being a greatly improved side from their previous appearance at the Women’s World Cup, the rout might be on for the US. Not necessarily to the tune of 13-0, but a comfortable and easy win. However, that was absolutely not the case as the Spaniards came right back down the field and equalized just two minutes later after a communication mix-up between Alyssa Naher in the goal and Becky Sauerbrunn on the backline. It was now clear that US would be in for a fight the whole way. Then as full time was looming ever nearer, and with Jill Ellis’s still yet to make a sub, the US was awarded a penalty that was checked by VAR and upheld. It initially appeared that Alex Morgan was going to be the one to take it and the Spanish players engaged in some quite ridiculous gamesmanship (refusing to move away from the penalty spot) until after the VAR check. But during the interlude there was a change of plans and Rapinoe again stepped up and again slotted home the penalty. Spain had two or three half chances the last few minutes of the game but eh US emerged the victors and breathed a massive sigh of relief. It doesn’t get any easier though, as they have to play the host nation on short rest.
France initially wasn’t much to write home about on the international women’s scene. Prior to 2011 they had never qualified for the Olympics and had made the Women’s World Cup just once (in 2003 where they went out in the group stage). Since then however, they have been a major player and a force to be reckoned with. The 2011 Women’s World Cup in Germany saw them make it to the semi-finals (where they lost to the US before falling in the third place game). They then made it to the semi-finals of London 2012 before eventually losing the bronze medal game to Canada. Four years ago in Canada, they got to the quarter-finals and lost on penalties to Germany. And then at Rio 2016 they again reached the quarterfinals before being put out by Canada. Coming into this particular game they are in an excellent run of form, having won nine in a row and 14 of their last 15. They topped Group A with a 4-0 win over South Korea, a 2-1 win over Norway and a 1-0 win over Nigeria. In the Round of 16, they won a 2-1 thriller against Brazil in extra time. Their roster is absolutely loaded with talent. The captain is Amandine Henry who has amassed 86 caps and has 13 goals to go with it (two of those 13 goals have been at this tournament). Eugenie Le Sommer leads the front line with 76 goals in 162 caps and the backline is anchored by the indomitable Wendie Renard who was 22 goals in 112 caps.
1. There have been eight Women’s World Cups and the USWNT has made the quarter-finals of all eight of them.
2. France is looking to be the first country to win the World Cup on year and then win the Women’s World Cup the next.
3. All yellow cards are wiped clean after the quarter-finals
When and where to watch the game on US TV and streaming
Saturday, January 19, 2019
Le Havre, France
France 3-1 USA
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