Former USA keeper Hope Solo says tonight’s Fifa Women’s World Cup clash between holders America and hosts France has a chance of being a match that will go down in the history of the game.
Solo, a World Cup winner and two-time Olympic gold medallist who played for her country from 2000 to 2016, says the two powerhouses coming together for a hugely anticipated quarter-final encounter is a match-up “that was necessary for the growth of women’s football”.
Writing for BBC sport, Solo said:
“This quarter-final will be a global game for women to refer back to. In years to come, we will look back on this giant contest. It is incredibly exciting for me to be a part of it, feeling the energy of the city here this week and then feeling the energy of the sold-out stadium.”
Solo advances the theory that it’s going to be an attacking game with a lot of defensive breakdowns, because both teams have great midfields and great ability going forward. She added:
“France’s PSG forward Kadidiatou Diani is one of my favourite players, and they also have Eugenie Le Sommer, Gaetane Thiney and Amandine Henry — these are top midfield players who can potentially outclass the United States in that area.
“For the USA, we need to see Portland Thorns midfielder Lindsey Horan back in the starting team after she was left out against Spain in the last 16 on Monday in Reims. I don’t think they will have any chance to control the game in the midfield if she is not on the field.”
The excitement to which she refers was also in evidence last night when England saw off the challenge of Norway with a 3-0 win in an intriguing quarter final clash that sets up the Lionesses for a semi-final showdown with tonight’s winners on Tuesday.
England boss Phil Neville says months of planning and clear objectives have helped his side on their journey. After the Lionesses reached a second consecutive World Cup semi-final, he said:
“We had a camp last year and we set out the objectives for the next 12 months, and all I wanted them to say was ‘win the World Cup’. But they were thinking bigger than winning a World Cup, which knocked me in my stride a little bit.
“We want the Lionesses to have a name that people around the world can relate to — badass women. That was our mantra. We’re now at the point where we are inspiring, where people are jumping on board — it just feels really good. We want to come home with that World Cup,”
“I keep thinking to myself, ‘stop saying it’, but we can’t hide away from the fact something’s happening. We cannot wait for Tuesday.”