By Ryan Rosenblatt / VOAO
When the World Cup draw was done, attention immediately turned to Match 46. In all likelihood, it was going to be the U.S. against France.
The two best teams in the world.
The teams with the biggest stars in the world.
The defending champions against the hosts.
And it was going to be at the Parc des Princes in Paris.
The only disappointment in the draw is that it would come in the quarterfinals and not a round or two later. Aside from that, it couldn’t have looked any more tantalizing.
And yet, now, as we get ready for the spectacular match we have been awaiting since the draw, it somehow is even better than it looked.
Thanks to the Americans running off 18 goals in the group stage without a single one conceded, any expectations for the three-time world champions looked to have underestimated how good the team could be. Meanwhile, France only allowed one goal in their first three matches and that came on an own goal from Wendie Renard - who scored three goals in the correct goal to more than make up for it.
Slight stumbles in the Round of 16 may have taken a little shine off both teams, as France required extra time to see off Brazil and the U.S. struggled to shoot in between kicks to the shins from Spain, but they both made it through to set up this epic quarterfinal.
There’s a case to be made that this is set up to be the best quarterfinal … ever. Never before have two teams ranked so high, that dominated the first four matches of a World Cup ever met for a spot in the semifinals. In any other tournament, the U.S. or France would be looked at as clear favorites and any claims that one was the best team in the world would be difficult to dispute.
We’ve talked about how this would be the best Women’s World Cup ever, and it’s lived to the hype. That means winning it will require a team be better than any team that has ever preceded it. And these are the two best teams around right now.
Alex Morgan vs. Wendie Renard.
Lindsey Horan vs. Amadine Henry.
Becky Sauerbrunn vs. Eugénie Le Sommer.
This is as good as it gets. In Paris. With the champs against the hosts.
Let’s fucking do it.