The Women’s World Cup matchup that everyone has been waiting for has finally arrived.
The tournament’s arguably best two teams – defending champions United States and hosts France – will play in a pivotal quarterfinal match on Friday in what experts believe should have been the final.
The top-ranked American women breezed through the group stage with decisive wins against Thailand, Chile, and Sweden before meeting a physically challenging Spain – their first real threat of the tournament – in the round of 16.
Two goals from the spot by star attacker Megan Rapinoe secured the 2-1 victory over Spain in Reims on Monday night. It was the U.S. team’s first goal of the tournament and their only allowed goal since their 5-3 win against Australia on April 4.
It’s not just fans looking forward to Friday’s matchup. Rapinoe said she hopes in a “complete spectacle” and “an absolute media circus.”
“I hope it’s huge and crazy. That’s what it should be. This is the best game, this is what everybody wanted,” she said after the match was set. “I think we want it. Seems like they’re up for it. [The media] 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.”
She added: “I hope it’s just a total s--t show circus. It’s gonna be totally awesome. I think this is what everybody wants and these are the biggest games that you dream about as a kid.”
Coach Jill Ellis was a bit more subdued when talking about the upcoming match.
“So many times when we play in big games, it’s actually where I get more excited,” Ellis said, according to Sports Illustrated. “So when we have our pregame meetings, it’s more. Because it means more, it matters more, there’s more at stake, and that’s why you do this. You don’t go into one, professional sports, or two, coaching, if you’re not in it for those purposes and those reasons.”
The U.S. and France last played on Jan. 19 in an international friendly. France got the better of the U.S., winning 3-1 at Stade Oceane Le Havre. Mallory Pugh was the only American to score in the match. Other stars like Rapinoe and Julie Ertz did not play.
Before kickoff, here are some things to know about the much-anticipated match.
How to Watch
Coverage of the match begins at 2 p.m. ET on your local FOX stations. The match kicks off at 3 p.m. ET on the same channel.
You can also stream the match on FOX Sports Go.
The U.S. team is littered with talent at every corner, including Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, Julie Ertz, Tobin Heath, and goalie Alyssa Naeher just to name a few. But the average fan probably doesn’t know much about the French side.
Heading into the tournament, Eugenie Le Sommer had made more than 150 appearances and scored more than 70 goals for France. She also helped Olympique Lyonnais Feminin win a Champions League title this year. She has two goals this tournament.
Wendie Renard has also been a breakout player for France in the tournament. She has scored three goals and is among the country’s top scorer in the tournament.
The match between the U.S. and France is the hottest ticket in town. On one third-party website as of Thursday, a ticket was being resold for about $170 at the cheapest price and over $11,000 at its most expensive.
Meteorologists have placed more than a half of France, including Paris, on alert for high temperatures through the end of the week when temperatures may reach up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit across parts of the country as summer tourist season shifts into high gear.
At kickoff on Friday, temperatures in Paris are expected to be the low 90s.
“It will be very hot during the day, there will not really be any coolness at night and we will have very high temperatures almost never seen before in fact probably in June in France,” Meteo France forecaster François Gourand told France 24.
Women’s World Cup Bracket
The winner of today's matchup will meet England, who dispatched Norward 3-0 on Thursday, in one of the semifinals. The other semifinal match will be decided on Saturday when Italy and the Netherlands and Germany and Sweden meet up.
The semifinals games are set to be played on July 2 and July 3 in Lyon. The third place medal match will be played July 6 in Nice while the final is set for July 7 in Lyon. All games will be shown live on Fox Sports.
On Thursday, Bet Online listed the U.S. as a 5/8 (-160) shot to win the match. France was listed as a 13/10 (+130) underdog.
Additionally, the online gambling website released several other prop bets for the match. France scoring first was a 5/4 (+125) shot, U.S. scoring first was listed at 20/23 (-115) and no goal scored was 7/1 (+700).
Fox News' Travis Fedschun contributed to this report.