USA will look to defend their SheBelieves Cup title when take on Japan at the Talen Energy Stadium on Thursday.
The showdown is a repeat of both the 2015 and 2011 World Cup finals, and promises to be another absorbing clash with both sides blessed with an array of attacking talent. This tournament consists of three matches in a group format, and will offer both sets of teams ideal preparation ahead of this summer's World Cup.
Check out 90min's preview of the clash below:
Where to Watch
|When Is Kick-Off?||Thursday 28 February|
|What Time Is Kick-Off?||00:00 (GMT)|
|Where Is it Played?||Talen Energy Stadium|
|TV Channel/Live Stream?||BBC Website/BBC App/Fox Sports|
Manager Jill Ellis will be without Lindsey Horan for the entirety of the USA's title defence having suffered injury in the build up to the tournament. Kelly O'Hara could return but may not be forced straight back into the side having just returned from an injury of her own.
Another setback for the USA was the withdrawal of midfielder Danielle Colaprico from the squad due to a re-aggravation of a groin problem, subsequently being replaced by defender Emily Fox.
For Japan, no injury concerns surround the squad, meaning Asako Takakura will be able to play a full strength team on Thursday. Captain Saki Kumagai will provide the base in defence, with the trickery of Emi Nakajima in midfield and the speedy Kumi Yokoyama up front as a strong spine in the Japan side.
|USA||Naeher; Davidson, Sauerbrunn, Dahlkemper, Dunn, Rapinoe, Mewis, Ertz, Lavelle, Heath, Morgan.|
|Japan||Yamane; Sameshima, Ariyoshi, Kumagai, Ichise, Utsugi, Nakajima, Hasegawa, Sakaguchi, Yokoyama, Momiki.|
The last time these two sides faced off was back in 2015 in the final of the World Cup, a match that the USA totally dominated to win 5-2. Carly Lloyd scored a 13 minute hat trick on the day, with Lauren Holiday's strike and Tobin Heath sealing a resounding victory.
In all, the USA have a record of 28 wins in 36 matches against Japan, having scored 104 goals in the process.
The USA head into the tournament on the back of winning the CONCACAF Women's Championship in October last year. They won the final 2-0 against rivals Canada, having brushed aside all their other opponents in the competition with consummate ease.
Since the turn of the year, a disappointing 3-1 friendly loss to France followed, with Mallory Pugh scoring a late consolation on that occasion. However, the USA rallied to beat Spain 1-0 in another friendly just three days later courtesy of Christen Press's strike.
Japan meanwhile will be full of confidence having won a tournament of their own last year. Takakura's side beat China 1-0 in the final of the Asian Games after seeing off the likes of South Korea and Korea DPR along the way. Their most recent outing was a 4-1 humbling of Norway in a friendly last year.
Here's how both sides have fared in their last five fixtures:
|USA 1-0 Spain (22/01)||Japan 4-1 Norway (11/11)|
|France 3-1 USA (19/01)||Japan 1-0 China (31/08)|
|USA 1-0 Scotland (13/11)||South Korea 1-2 Japan (28/08)|
|USA 1-0 Portugal (13/08)||Japan 2-1 Korea DPR (25/08)|
|Canada 0-2 USA (08/10)||Japan 7-0 Vietnam (21/08)|
Both countries are blessed with a plethora of attacking talent so expect plenty of goals on Thursday. Japan are most certainly underdogs ahead of the tie, but should not be underestimated as they are a side beaming with confidence at present.
A few injuries at the back for the USA could be crucial, but in front of their own supporters, Ellis' team will be right up for it.
Prediction: USA 3-1 Japan