U.S. wary of France in World Cup semifinal
Day 13, Match 29
France vs. United States, Semifinal
Date and Location
July 13, Borussia-Park, Moenchengladbach, Germany
Live on CBC TV and CBCSports.ca (11:45 a.m. ET). Consult the full broadcast schedule.
What's at stake
A spot in the final against the winner of Wednesday's other semifinal between Japan and Sweden. France has never made it this far in the tournament — it bowed out in the first round in 2003, its only previous World Cup appearance. The United States is searching for its third World Cup crown. The Americans have never finished worse than third place at the World Cup.
Setting the stage
Both sides enter this match on an emotional high after leaving it late in the quarter-finals.
France needed an 88th minute strike from Elise Bussaglia to send their contest into extra time before prevailing in a penalty shootout over England. The United States was seconds away from elimination when Abby Wambach scored in the 120th minute, and then again in the shootout as the Americans prevailed over Brazil.
The French have impressed in their run to the final four, demonstrating great technical ability and ball possession. They will have to be at their best against the Americans, a team they have defeated just once in 13 matches.
While the U.S. holds the psychological edge, the French will be better rested.
The U.S. women are dealing with a quick turnaround, with just two days to prepare for this match after an emotionally draining encounter against Brazil. Not only will the Americans, the oldest team in the tournament, be playing on one less day of rest, but France will have had three days off by the time they meet Wednesday night.
Player to watch for France
Louisa Necib — The elegant and technically gifted French midfielder has been a revelation at this competition, her sublime distribution and brilliant playmaking skills dazzling fans and opponents alike.
Player to watch for the United States
Abby Wambach — After a slow start to the tournament, the veteran forward has come alive the past two games, including scoring the equalizing goal in extra time and again in the penalty shootout against Brazil in the quarter-finals.
The French perspective
"We have a bit of an advantage over the United States because we're already familiar with this venue. The extra recuperation time has been kind to us — they've yet to invent a machine that does a better job of helping players recover than simply sleeping and resting. Another of our priorities has been working on our tactics and ball possession. We've been doing some specific exercises related to those aspects," coach Bruno Bini told FIFA.com.
The American perspective
"We are feeling good. We are riding high [on] a wave of confidence right now. France are an excellent team. They put on a great show against England and threw them out of the tournament, kept the ball well and played an attractive style. I think it's going to be a pretty good game," midfielder Megan Rapinoe told FIFA.com.
World Cup head-to-head
Wednesday will mark the first World Cup encounter between France and the United States, although they have faced each other 13 times in international play at the senior level. The Americans hold a distinct advantage in the series with 11 wins, one loss and one draw. The U.S. won the last match, 4-1, in 2006.