The United States begins its quest for a gold medal repeat at the 2012 Olympics on Wednesday, and the draw has handed them one of the medal favorites in their first game. France, the fourth-place finishers at the 2011 Women's World Cup, should be at least as strong as they were in Germany.
France and the USWNT met in the semifinals of the World Cup, with the United States winning 3-1. In that semifinal France started a different central defender alongside Laura Georges for the third consecutive game, and that instability at the back ultimately proved to be their downfall. France held on to a 1-1 draw until very late in the match, when they were taken apart by the United States forwards. Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan scored two goals late in the game to put away Les Bleus and guide their team into the final.
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Since that game, Women's Professional Soccer has dissolved, while Division 1 Feminine in France has gotten stronger. Lyon won the UEFA Champions League for the second consecutive season in 2011-12, with Camile Abily and Eugenie Le Sommer scoring nine goals apiece. They have just as many attacking weapons as the United States, if not more, and they will have firepower to bring off the bench if things don't go their way.
Expect USWNT coach Pia Sundhage to test France's questionable defense, along with 38-year-old defensive midfielder Sandrine Soubeyrand, with a very attack-minded 4-4-2 formation. This will put a lot of pressure on the United States back line to deal with counter-attacks that get past what should be a light center of midfield, so expect both sides to score.
Pick: 2-2 draw
Game Date/Time: Wednesday, Noon ET, 5 p.m. local
Venue: Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland
TV: NBC Sports Network
We'll have coverage of all of Wednesday's games in our 2012 Olympics, Women's Soccer Day 1 StoryStream.