The tournament’s arguably best two teams – defending champions United States and hosts France – will play in a pivotal quarterfinal match on Friday in what experts believe should have been the final.
The top-ranked American women breezed through the group stage with decisive wins against Thailand, Chile, and Sweden before meeting a physically challenging Spain – their first real threat of the tournament – in the round of 16.
Two goals from the spot by star attacker Megan Rapinoe secured the 2-1 victory over Spain in Reims on Monday night. It was the U.S. team’s first goal of the tournament and their only allowed goal since their 5-3 win against Australia on April 4.
It’s not just fans looking forward to Friday’s matchup. Rapinoe said she hopes in a “complete spectacle” and “an absolute media circus.”
“I hope it’s huge and crazy. That’s what it should be. This is the best game, this is what everybody wanted,” she said after the match was set. “I think we want it. Seems like they’re up for it. [The media] of course are up for it, and all the fans. Maybe it’ll be a pretty even split between the fans in the stadium. We’ve been traveling pretty deep in this World Cup.”
She added: “I hope it’s just a total s–t show circus. It’s gonna be totally awesome. I think this is what everybody wants and these are the biggest games that you dream about as a kid.”
Coach Jill Ellis was a bit more subdued when talking about the upcoming match.
“So many times when we play in big games, it’s actually where I get more excited,” Ellis said, according to Sports Illustrated. “So when we have our pregame meetings, it’s more. Because it means more, it matters more, there’s more at stake, and that’s why you do this. You don’t go into one, professional sports, or two, coaching, if you’re not in it for those purposes and those reasons.”
The U.S. and France last played on Jan. 19 in an international friendly. France got the better of the U.S., winning 3-1 at Stade Oceane Le Havre. Mallory Pugh was the only American to score in the match. Other stars like Rapinoe and Julie Ertz did not play.
Before kickoff, here are some things to know about the much-anticipated match.
How to Watch
Coverage of the match begins at 1 p.m. CT on FOX Sports and on Fox16. You will be able to watch the match at 2 p.m. CT on your local FOX stations.
You can also stream the match on FOX Sports Go.
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