United States captain Megan Rapinoe said France is the team to beat at this year's Women's World Cup, which starts Friday.
United States captain Megan Rapinoe believes France is the team to beat at this year's Women's World Cup, which starts on Friday.
"I think they are, in my opinion, the favorite, for sure," Rapinoe said Wednesday, according to ESPN's Graham Hayes. "I don't say that to play mind games. They're a fantastic team. They're home. They're going to have, obviously, a home crowd with them every time. We felt that in the last World Cup, even though it was in Canada, it felt like a home World Cup for us. In some of those tighter games, that was definitely a big boost for us."
"For me, I consider them the favorites and I feel like all the pressure is on them," she added.
However, Rapinoe clarified the distinction between a tournament favorite and who she thinks is going to win. She still backs her squad. The 33-year-old star has played in two World Cups and two Olympic games. She has also been a very vocal advocate for gender equality. Rapinoe said once again Wednesday that the tournament winner will not receive the prize money that it deserves.
The U.S. enters the tournament as defending champions after winning it all in 2015. The Americans enter as the No. 1 team in FIFA's ranking, three spots ahead of the French. The USA was the last host nation to win the Women's World Cup, when the team hoisted the trophy in 1999.
France beat the U.S. in January, while the two sides had a 1–1 in 2018 at the SheBelieves Cup. The two could possibly meet in the World Cup quarterfinal.
France will take on South Korea in the tournament's opening match, while the United States will first face Thailand on Tuesday.