The United States women's national team will face its toughest task yet in the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup when it faces tournament host France in the quarterfinals Friday in Paris. The Americans and French -- ranked first and second, respectively in our latest Power Rankings -- were viewed as arguably the top two favorites to hoist the championship trophy when it's all said and done, and on Friday one team will be sent packing. The U.S. has never failed to reach the semifinals of a Women's World Cup, while France is looking to get to the last four for just the second time ever. There, England awaits after beating Norway in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
It's the reigning champions against the tournament hosts, a matchup many prognosticators circled on their calendars when the draw took place back in December. Buckle up because this has all the makings of an instant classic with potentially plenty of goals. Here's how you can watch the match and everything else you need to know:
Women's World Cup: USWNT vs. France
- Date: Friday, June 28
- Time: 3 p.m. ET
- Location: Parc des Princes -- Paris, France
- TV channel: Fox and Universo
- Streaming: fuboTV (Try for free)
- Odds: USA -0.5 (+130) | France +0.5 (-150) | O/U: 2.5
So who wins France vs. USA? And where does all the betting value lie? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the France vs. USA money line you need to be all over Friday, all from an expert who created a model that's returned a 2,000 percent profit on bookmakers' closing odds.
What will USWNT's starting lineup look like?
Here's the official starting lineup for the U.S.:
- Alyssa Naeher (GK); Kelley O'Hara (DEF), Abby Dahlkemper (DEF), Becky Sauerbrunn (DEF), Crystal Dunn (DEF); Sam Mewis (MID), Julie Ertz (MID), Rose Lavelle (MID); Tobin Heath (FWD), Alex Morgan (FWD), Megan Rapinoe (FWD)
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Each team's path to the quarterfinals:
USA: The United States has yet to trail in this tournament. In fact, it went into the halftime break on Monday without the lead for the first time in this tournament after conceding a goal to Spain minutes after scoring the game's first goal. It was the first time the United States conceded at all in France. The two goals scored against Spain came off penalty kicks, with the second PK being viewed as one of the most controversial calls of the game -- so much so that former goalkeeper Hope Solo called the Americans "lucky" to have advanced. Jill Ellis' squad has wins over Thailand (13-0), Chile (3-0), Sweden (2-0) and Spain (2-1).
France: Like the Americans, this French side is also coming off a nervy performance. Theirs, against Brazil, required an additional 30 minutes of extra time and a jaw-dropping, last-ditch defensive play to prevent a goal from being scored.
"The Brazil win increased our mental strength," France goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi said earlier in the week, via ESPN. "Since our defeat against England in the She Believes Cup in 2018, we have worked on our mental strength. We have realized the qualities of the squad. We have a mental strength, which is an asset, like the U.S. We saw it against Norway and Brazil when they came back in the game, but we still won."
The tournament hosts have yet to lose or draw in this tournament, racking up wins against South Korea (4-0), Norway (2-1), Nigeria (1-0) and Brazil (2-1 in extra time).
How healthy is Alex Morgan?
As noted above, Alex Morgan is on our projected starting lineup for Friday. Morgan is tied with Australia's Sam Kerr for the Golden Boot lead with five goals scored this tournament. All of Morgan's goals came in the 13-0 thrashing of Thailand, and with Australia already bounced from the competition, the U.S. forward is a heavy favorite to leave France as the top scorer if she can stay on the field.
Morgan was an unused substitute the second group stage match against Chile and left the third group stage match against Sweden at halftime after she was seen visibly limping and walking gingerly. She started the round of 16 match against Spain, but did not appear to be at 100 percent and was subbed out of the game in the 85th minute. After the game, she told reporters why she said she thought she was fouled in the "double digits" and took a "good crack" to her back. All eyes will be on Morgan for this one. The United States will need her to be at her best if its stands a chance against France.
Even former USWNT star Hope Solo said Morgan "was off her game" vs. Spain.
Megan Rapinoe expects a circus in Paris
We all know France is the tournament hosts, but Megan Rapinoe, who scored the two penalty-kick goals against Spain, expects this to be "a pretty even split" between the fan bases at Parc des Princes on Friday.
"Hopefully a complete spectacle, just an absolute media circus," Rapinoe said after the win over Spain when asked about the upcoming matchup against France. "I hope it's huge and crazy, that's what it should be. This is the best game. This is what everybody wanted. I think we want it. Seems like they're up for it. You guys 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. So I hope it's just a total s---show circus. It's going to be totally awesome. This is what everybody wants, and these are the biggest games that you kind of dream about as a kid."
What players should we keep an eye on for France?
There are three that really stand out that can cause the U.S. a bunch of problems.
- Amandine Henry: The 29-year-old defensive midfielder players for giants Lyon. A talented, physical player in the middle of the pitch, she is the definition of a box-to-box midfielder who can score and create. She was one of the top players at the 2015 Women's World Cup and scored the winner against Brazil.
- Eugenie Le Sommer: Another Lyon talent, the 30-year-old striker is France's captain and is closing in on the all-time scoring record for the national team, as she is just seven goals away from tying the mark. She's small at 5-foot-3, but she has the ability to beat you with speed and technical ability and is expected to score every time she is on the pitch. For Lyon, she has 223 goals in 249 games.
- Wendie Renard: A towering central defender in her prime, and yet again another Lyon talent, Renard is just as good in attack as she is at the back. This is a central defender with over 100 goals at the club level and 19 for the national team. She is as good in the air in attack and defense as any player in the world and will be up to the task of stopping Morgan.
A look at the head-to-head
They've played 23 times, with the U.S. winning 17 of them, drawing three and losing three. There last meeting was actually in January of this year in a friendly which France won 3-1. Kadidiatou Diani scored twice in the game, while the U.S. got a goal from Mallory Pugh in the 91st minute, already down 3-0. Before 2012, it was all USA in this series, but it has gotten super competitive in the last seven years.
Before the 2012 Olympics, the U.S. was 14-0-1 all-time against France. Since then, the U.S. is 4-3-2.
The U.S. controls the ball and does well to prevent chances from France. A Tobin Heath goal in the second half is the difference.
Pick: USA 1, France 0