1 big thing: ⚽️ USA vs. France
The U.S. will take on host France in the Women's World Cup quarterfinals today (3pm ET, FS1) in a game that has it all: great teams, high stakes and a brewing rivalry.
The intrigue: Since the 2015 World Cup final, the USWNT has played 75 matches and lost just five of them. France was responsible for two.
- January 2019: France 3, USA 1 (friendly)
- March 2017: France 3, USA 0 (SheBelieves Cup)
The backdrop: Thanks to the massive infrastructure (and trickle down effect) of college sports and a culture that emphasizes physical fitness, the USWNT has long been the gold standard for women's soccer.
- For decades, the competition has simply not been able to compete athletically. That includes France, where the women's national team only recently implemented strength training — something American players have been doing their whole lives.
Fast-forward: Women's soccer in France has changed dramatically in the last few years thanks to professional clubs investing heavily in their women's teams.
- Leading the way is Olympique Lyonnais (Lyon), whose women's team gets access to the same facilities and trainers as the men's team, and has responded by winning four straight Champions League titles.
- This level of investment has attracted the world's top talent to France, including American superstars like Alex Morgan (Lyon), Megan Rapinoe (Lyon), Tobin Heath (PSG) and Lindsey Horan (PSG).
The big picture: By training more like Americans and even playing alongside some of them during the club season, the French have evolved into a much faster, more athletic team that not only can beat the U.S. today but almost feels destined to do so.
The bottom line: On paper, this is one of the biggest games in the history of women's soccer. My advice: Tell your boss you're going to "grab some lunch" and simply don't come back.