Spain take on the United States in the 2019 Women's World Cup round-of-16 this Monday, with France or Brazil awaiting the winner in the quarter finals.
The Americans are currently the top scorers of the tournament, having netted 18 times during the group stages, with 13 coming during their demolition of Thailand. Chile and Sweden were also dismissed with ease, as the reigning champions kept a clean sheet in each of their group matches.
Spain, meanwhile, have tasted victory in just one of their games up to this point, downing South Africa 3-1 in fortuitous fashion, before a 1-0 loss at the hands of Germany and a drab draw with China.
Here's our preview of the encounter.
Where to Watch
|When is Kick-Off?||Monday 24 June|
|What Time is Kick-Off?||17:00 (BST)|
|Where is it Played?||Stade Auguste-Delaune II, Reims|
|TV Channel/Live Stream?||BBC Two, FuboTV|
The US were deprived of star forward Alex Morgan - who struck five against the Thais - for the majority of their final Group F fixture, the 29-year-old limping off with a minor injury. However, both she and midfielder Julie Ertz should be available to face Spain, the latter having recovered from a thigh strain.
The Spaniards are likewise at full strength, with no fitness issues or suspensions for head coach Jorge Vilda to account for.
|Spain||Panos; Torrejon, Paredes, Leon, Corredera; Putellas, Torrecilla, Losada; Sampedro, Caldentey, Jenni.|
|USA||Naeher; O'Hara, Dahlkemper, Sauerbrunn, Dunn; Lavelle, Horan, Mewis; Heath, Rapinoe, Morgan.|
Head to Head Record
Despite the dominance of the USWNT and there being a rich footballing heritage in Spain, this is only the second ever meeting between the two sides. Interestingly, the first came just five months ago, the Stars and Stripes emerging victorious courtesy of a sublime Christen Press solo-effort minutes after the restart.
The striker was introduced at half-time with the game caught in deadlock, settling the result with a moment of individual brilliance in Alicante last winter.
With 12 places separating Spain and the States in the world rankings, the latter will be expecting to progress to the next round, especially after the pair's contrasting fortunes in the group stages.
Jill Ellis' side has won all three of their World Cup matches to date, though they were lethargic in their 2-0 defeat of Sweden last time out. There appeared to be a slight lack of focus as they coughed up several presentable opportunities for the Scandinavians, an issue that needs immediate fixing as they enter the knockout rounds.
Crystal Dunn was fantastic in that victory, whilst Morgan is the competition's leading goalscorer despite only playing one full game.
Meanwhile, Spain have already experienced plenty of the highs and lows the tournament has to offer, winning, losing and drawing each of their matches so far.
Talismanic forward Jennifer Hermoso grabbed a brace as they recorded their maiden World Cup victory, the Atletico Madrid striker looking fearsome as her nation qualified for their first ever round-of-16 tie.
Here's how each team performed in their last five fixtures:
|China 0-0 Spain (17/06)||Sweden 0-2 USA (20/06)|
|Germany 1-0 Spain (12/06)||USA 3-0 Chile (16/06)|
|Spain 3-1 South Africa (8/06)||USA 13-0 Thailand (11/06)|
|Spain 1-1 Japan (2/06)||USA 3-0 Mexico (26/05)|
|Spain 0-0 Canada (24/05)||USA 5-0 New Zealand (17/05)|
Given their immaculate form at this World Cup in France, it is hard to see anything but a US triumph in this encounter. Spain's own inconsistency makes that outcome appear all the more likely, though they can take heart from the champions' display versus Sweden.
It is possible to catch them on an off-day, to really get at them and ruffle some of the Eagles' feathers. However, there is no way of telling whether the Spaniards will be so lucky. It may even be the case that the slump against the Swedes will act as a wake-up call.
The USWNT are likely to be more wary in light of that showing, which is decidedly bad news for Vilda and his players. Even if Hermoso turns on the style, there is little she can do when the Americans are in full flow.
Prediction: Spain 1-3 USA