Group F supremacy is on the line as both teams prepare for knockout stage
Two of women's soccer's best will do battle with plenty on the line when Team USA and Sweden (both 2-0-0, 6 points) face off on Thursday in the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup. Both teams are among the favorites to win the tournament and both have already secured their spot in the knockout stage. But only one team can claim the top spot in Group F and secure a higher seed for the next round.
The U.S. and Sweden are the highest scoring teams in this tournament, and the two best defensive teams as well (one goal allowed between them). Something will have to give when they take the field against one another for the 24th time.
United States vs. Sweden
When: Thursday, June 20 at 3 p.m. ET
Where: Stade Oceane (Le Havre, France)
TV: FOX and Telemundo
Three Things to Watch
1. Both teams light up the scoreboard
The United States has scored 16 total goals in their wins over Thailand and Chile. Alex Morgan scored five of those goals, all of which came in the record-setting, 13-0 blowout of Thailand. Carli Lloyd has recorded three goals, two of which came against Chile. Megan Rapinoe, Julie Ertz, and Mallory Pugh (among others) have also gotten into the act, which means that Team USA's star players are delivering and then some.
Sweden has outscored these same two teams 7-0. Forward Kosovare Asllani leads her team with two goals with five others registering one each.
2. Team USA's defense
Aside from the fact that the U.S. has yet to yield a goal, the defense has been effective in other aspects. Opponents have managed just three combined shots on goal, limited to no better than 30 percent possession, have received four yellow cards, and been awarded just one corner kick. Watching Team USA score so many goals has been fun, but the key to beating Sweden will be maintaining their impressive defensive play.
3. These teams have history
This will be the 24th meeting between these countries with the U.S. holding a commanding 13-4-6 edge. They have split their last two matchups, the more notable being the quarterfinals of the 2016 Summer Olympics in which Sweden eliminated the Americans by the score of 4-3. The U.S. no doubt has payback on their minds.
Team USA's defense is just too good and too difficult to score against. It'll be close but the defending World Cup champions do enough to win Group F.
Prediction: United States 5, Sweden 3
— Gabe Salgado is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He's a co-host of The Rewind Sports: 60. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.