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SportBetter early than never: U.S.-France is a World Cup quarterfinal with big-time stakes

17:15  25 june  2019
17:15  25 june  2019 Source:   washingtonpost.com

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REIMS, France — Come Saturday morning , the Women’ s World Cup will have been winnowed from 24 teams to four. And the only certainty is that either Friday’ s quarterfinal at Parc des Princes promises to be a study in those contrasts. It also promises to be a raucous rebuttal to FIFA, the

This was a World Cup that first defied expectation and then prediction , a glorious mayhem, a A quarterfinal with Uruguay was decided by a set piece and a stroke of luck . The same, more or less France is the world champion because it can shine brighter than anyone else, even if it only needs

Better early than never: U.S.-France is a World Cup quarterfinal with big-time stakes © Reuters REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

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REIMS, France —By Saturday, the Women’s World Cup will have been winnowed from 24 teams to four. And either France, the host nation, or the United States, the tournament’s three-time and defending champion, will be gone.

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[ World Cup Final : Follow our live coverage of France vs. Croatia]. It is there, instead, because It was only in the quarterfinal , against Uruguay, that it finally broke that trend of squeaking by, but That has been France ’ s unexpected forte in this tournament: its defensive strength, its imperturbability, the

Better early than never : U . S .- France is a World Cup quarterfinal with big - time stakes . Jake Russell Jake Russell has been a sports news aide and blogger with the Washington Post since 2013. His book "100 Things Nationals Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" was published in 2016.

That’s the inevitable outcome after the U.S. women brawled to a 2-1 victory over Spain on Monday in the medieval town of Reims, playing their ugliest but toughest soccer yet to clinch a spot in the quarterfinals.

Their reward: a date with France, whose players weathered their own trial the night before to vanquish Brazil by the same score.

In so many respects, this all-too-soon clash is a pity. It’s a borderline sporting offense that the tournament’s two best teams and top ticket-sellers, whose players have combined to score 30 goals and concede just three, must square off in the quarterfinals.

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MOSCOW — Some time around France ’ s virtuoso victory against Argentina and Belgium’ s breathtaking comeback against Japan, the planet seemed to come to a decision. Russia 2018, it was universally decided, had not just been a good World Cup , and not just a great World Cup .

It now falls to the three- time and defending World Cup champion U . S . women to do their part to deliver the quarterfinal matchup that has been anticipated from the moment the draw was announced. With a victory over Spain on Monday in Reims, the United States will meet fourth-ranked France on Friday at

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In the view of U.S. striker Megan Rapinoe, however, it’s cause for celebration.

After burying two penalty kicks against Spain to avert what would have been the greatest upset in the history of U.S. women’s soccer, Rapinoe was positively beside herself over the prospect of taking on France in a quarterfinal Friday at 45,000-seat Parc des Princes in Paris.

Better early than never: U.S.-France is a World Cup quarterfinal with big-time stakes © Getty REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

If her steely performance against Spanish goalkeeper Sandra Panos didn’t make it clear, Rapinoe is a big-game player. On her calendar, there’s never a bad day to compete against the best, on the biggest stage, with as many fans as possible watching.

“Hopefully, it’s a spectacle! An absolute media circus! I hope it’s huge and crazy, because that’s what it should be,” Rapinoe said, her white-blond hair tinted pink for the World Cup’s round of 16, when asked whether she lamented the meeting with France arriving in the quarterfinals.

France beats Brazil 2-1 in extra time, reaches WCup quarters

France beats Brazil 2-1 in extra time, reaches WCup quarters France survived a tense extra-time knockout match against Brazil and advanced to the Women's World Cup quarterfinals when captain Amandine Henry redirected Amel Majri's free kick for a tiebreaking goal in the 107th minute of a 2-1 victory on Sunday night at Le Havre. The World Cup hosts, in the quarterfinals for the third straight time, will play the defending champion United States or Spain at Paris on Friday. Valérie Gauvin, whose first-half goal was disallowed in a video review, put fourth-ranked France ahead in the 52nd minute but Thaisa tied the score 11 minutes later for No. 10 Brazil.

That gives us confidence moving forward, knowing that anyone can step up, have a big play and Should the top-ranked Americans beat No. 13 Spain, a quarterfinal match with France would await. Wilma Jean is missing the World Cup — Lavelle said last week that she had installed an app on her

The defending champions head to Paris to face France on Friday night.

“This is the best game. This is what everybody wanted,” she continued. “We want it. Seems like they’re up for it. . . . These are the biggest games, that you kind of dream about as a kid.”

With each round of this World Cup, there has been an air of inevitability about a France-U.S. quarterfinal.

From the moment France opened the tournament June 7 with a 4-0 rout of South Korea, both Les Bleues and the Americans have done their part.

Coaches Jill Ellis and Corinne Diacre have deployed the depth and mixture of youth and experience on their prodigiously talented rosters. And the athletes have delivered on the field — Elllis’s Americans with a display of offensive firepower that went on a walkabout Monday against Spain, forcing the squad to win with grit; and Diacre’s France with a master class in what a truly balanced soccer team looks like. France has no discernible weak link, only competence and cohesion binding its defensive backfield to midfield and, in turn, to the forwards up front.

Friday’s quarterfinal promises to be a study in contrast.

Better early than never: U.S.-France is a World Cup quarterfinal with big-time stakes © Bernadett Szabo/Reuters Megan Rapinoe, left, and Alex Morgan celebrate the United States’ second goal in Monday’s 2-1 victory over Spain.

It also promises to be a raucous rebuttal to FIFA, the sport’s international governing body, and the national soccer federations that defend their grudging, parsimonious funding of the women’s game by arguing that women’s soccer doesn’t generate revenue and never will.

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LE HAVRE, France — With record television audiences in France , the Women’ s World Cup is raising the host country’ s interest in women’ s soccer to unprecedented levels. On Sunday night, the home team allowed that passion to continue by reaching the quarterfinals with a 2-1 victory in extra time

REIMS, France — Good for fans, a bummer for the World Cup . The U . S . women will play France in the quarterfinals Friday, a game that ’ s But the knock on France has always been its inability to handle pressure. It has never advanced beyond the semifinals at a World Cup or an Olympics, and

While several matches in this World Cup have had glaring numbers of empty seats, a crowd of 45,261 jammed Parc des Princes for France’s opener against South Korea.

When the U.S. women took on Chile the following week, attendance swelled further, to 45,594.

FIFA allocated a majority of available World Cup tickets to the French people, who accounted for 460,748 in sales, according to the Associated Press. After the French, Americans accounted for more ticket purchases — 130,905 — than the rest of the world combined.

Better early than never: U.S.-France is a World Cup quarterfinal with big-time stakes © Reuters REUTERS/Yves Herman

So expect revenue to be generated Friday night in Paris, where fans of the red, white and-blue and France’s blue, white and red will paint their faces, wear crazy hats, drape themselves in flags, sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “La Marseillaise” and chant, scream and cheer.

Among them will be the three siblings and parents of U.S. midfielder Rose Lavelle, who has provided a terrific spark in her World Cup debut. It was a Spaniard’s kick to Lavelle’s lower right leg that drew the penalty that summoned Rapinoe for the second of her penalty kicks, in the 75th minute of a match that had been deadlocked at 1 since the ninth.

“Sometimes you have to win ugly and you have to dig deep,” Lavelle said, arguing that Monday’s struggles with Spain would help the U.S. team going forward. “That whole game was all about grit and how much we could handle when things weren’t going our way. I think it honestly is a big character-builder for us.”

Post Round of 16 FIFA Women's World Cup power rankings

Post Round of 16 FIFA Women's World Cup power rankings VAR. Spitting. VAR. A potential on-the-pitch strike. VAR. Extra time. VAR. A shootout. VAR. A pair of favorites dodging banana skins. Storylines and controversies from the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup Round of 16 entertained and angered, depending on points of view, and the quarterfinal matchup many desired ahead of the tournament is officially on the schedule. Odds are video replay will be on everyone's mind once that game concludes. Those who've followed the competition have no reason to expect differently. Back on June 1, Team USA and France deserved to sit atop pre-tournament power rankings. That's not the case with the Round of 16 in the rearview mirror.

France is still running with its starting 11. It might be time to get the yellow-card holders (Mbappe and Hernandez) off the field. Things getting chippy. Uruguay has had the better scoring chances but not a whole lot of possession. Suarez has been mostly absent. France has never lost a World Cup

Getty USA will now take on France in the World Cup quarterfinals . The last two U . S . matches have been much more challenging against Sweden and Spain, which could prove to be good preparation for France . The U . S . and France are now among the final eight teams remaining in the World Cup .

Better early than never: U.S.-France is a World Cup quarterfinal with big-time stakes © AP (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

The night before, Lavelle had watched France’s round-of-16 clash with Brazil. And she was struck Monday by this new parallel between the French and American teams, both forced to summon their best to clear the first test of the tournament’s knockout rounds.

“They’re a great team — technical and fast,” Lavelle said of France, relishing the matchup, particularly after the teams’ most recent meeting: a January friendly in Le Havre, where Les Bleues handed the Americans a 3-1 loss that was more lopsided than the score indicated. The U.S. squad that Ellis fielded then lacked Rapinoe, Tobin Heath and Julie Ertz.

Nonetheless, there’s little reason to expect France will be intimidated by the Americans when they meet again Friday.

“It’s going to be a great matchup,” Lavelle said. “It could easily be a finals game. No disrespect to any other team, but it’s two very strong teams with a lot of very good players.”

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Lionesses World Cup heroics mean Team GB WILL have a team at 2020 Olympics in Tokyo if the USA beat France in Friday night's quarter-final.
After the Lionesses booked their spot in the semi-finals with a 3-0 win over Norway, Team GB will have secured a spot for a women's team at the 2020 Olympics if hosts France are eliminated. If France overcome the United States, it would be an all-European final four and England would need to win the third-place play-off as the minimum to secure a spot in Tokyo next summer. The four home nations's respective football associations sent written confirmation back in October that they had agreed a women's team could represent Team GB should one of the three qualification spots be secured by the Lionesses this summer.

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