France has big motivation vs. U.S. in Women’s World Cup quarterfinal

PARIS — The United States has its ranking and its trophies, and that’s all the motivation France needs.

The Americans face the French on Friday night at the Women’s World Cup, a match that’s been described as a final in the quarterfinals. It really has it all: The defending champions against the upstart hosts. The City of Lights. A sellout crowd. Parc des Princes.

“They’ve got a great trophy cabinet and we still have everything to prove,” said French captain Amandine Henry, who put Les Bleus in the quarterfinals with a goal in the 106th minute to beat Brazil in the round of 16, 2-1.

The only downside? The country is in the midst of a heat wave and temperature is expected to soar into the 90s.

France, ranked No. 4 in the world, finished atop its group before overcoming a determined challenge from Brazil on Sunday night.

France also reached the quarterfinals at the 2015 World Cup in Canada but fell to Germany on penalties after a 1-1 draw. The team’s best finish at the tournament was fourth in 2011 after losing 2-1 in the third-place match to Sweden. France had lost 3-1 in the semifinals to the Americans.

But France has seen its profile rise considerably in recent years, coinciding with the growth of its domestic professional league. Seven players on France’s roster play for Lyon, which routed Barcelona 4-1 to win the Women’s Champions League for the fourth straight year and sixth time overall.

France is seeking to become the first nation to simultaneously hold the men’s and women’s World Cup trophies. The men won last year in Russia.

The defending champion United States already has three World Cup trophies, most of any nation.

“If there’s one area I don’t really need to work on, it’s motivation,” France coach Corinne Diacre said. “It’s impossible to have any pressure. Quite the opposite, in fact. It’s additional motivation for us. We’re coming up against the best team in the world. So the only pressure we have is to have a good performance.”

Anne M. Peterson is an Associated Press writer.

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/France-has-big-motivation-vs-U-S-in-Women-s-14057446.php.

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