In a repeat of the 2019 World Cup final, Netherlands Women and USA Women will clash on Friday in the quarter-finals of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Women's Football tournament, with a place in the final four and the chance to earn a medal on the line.
The Dutch side advanced to the knockout stage at the top of Group F with seven points, while their opponents were forced to settle for second place in Group G after a somewhat surprising defeat in the opening game.
Netherlands Women kicked off their Olympics campaign in style, thrashing Zambia Women 10-3 in their opening game in Rifu.
Vivianne Miedema hit four goals inside the first 60 minutes alongside a Lieke Martens brace and goals from Shanice van de Sanden, Jill Roord, Lineth Beerensteyn and Victoria Pelova to record a dominant win and send a message out to the rest of the sides in the tournament.
They would then face a much tougher test in the second game, clashing with fellow group favourites Brazil Women, with the game ending as a dramatic 3-3 draw thanks to Dominique Janssen's late equaliser for the Dutch team after Miedema had previously put them ahead with a brace.
That draw meant they went into the final group game at the summit, leading Brazil Women on goal difference, and they would secure top spot with another emphatic win, thrashing China PR Women 8-2 in Yokohama.
While Wang Shanshan did draw their opponents level after Van de Sanden's early opener, braces from Beerensteyn, Martens and Miedema alongside a Pelova goal would see them race ahead and seal another eye-catching result.
Having cruised through the group stage with a goal difference of +13 and a tournament-high goals tally of 21, Sarina Wiegman's side will feel confident heading into the quarter-finals in their bid to finish on the podium, but they certainly face a tough test against the world champions.
Despite coming into the tournament as favourites to secure the gold medal, USA Women had a poor start, suffering a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Sweden Women as Emma Blackstenius hit a brace and Lina Hurtig put the game out of sight in the 72nd minute.
That put an end to their eye-catching 44-game unbeaten run that spanned the majority of 2019, 2020 and the first half of 2021, including their triumph at the 2019 World Cup.
Vlatko Andonovski's side would quickly bounce back though, recording a dominant 6-1 win over New Zealand Women in their second group game to move into the qualification places.
Goals from Rosemary Lavelle and Lindsey Horan alongside an Abby Erceg own goal meant they already had a comfortable lead by the time Betsy Hassett pulled a goal back for New Zealand, and Christen Press and Alex Morgan would further stretch the lead before Catherine Bott turned the ball into her own net in added time to see the USA national team come away with a 6-1 victory.
They then went into the final group game against Australia Women with a spot in the top two on the line, as USA Women only led on goal difference, although they still would have stood a strong chance of qualifying for the knockout stage as one of the best third-placed sides if they were to be overtaken in the final round of fixtures.
That would not happen though, as the sides played out a goalless draw in Kashima, seeing Andonovski's side book a tie with Netherlands Women, who have been one of the standout sides at the tournament so far.
Despite their opponent's more positive group campaign, USA Women will be encouraged by the most recent major clash between the sides, when they squared off in the 2019 World Cup final.
Megan Rapinoe opened the scoring on the hour mark in that game, and a Rosemary Lavelle penalty with 20 minutes to go would see the USWNT come away with a 2-0 victory to lift the trophy for the fourth time, while retaining the title they won in 2015.
They will be desperate to repeat that feat on Friday and book their spot in the semi-finals, taking a huge step closer to a medal.
The Netherlands line will be led by Vivianne Miedema, who netted two goals in just 30 minutes in a substitute appearance last time out to see her break the record for most goals scored in an Olympics Women's Football tournament after just three games.
Her tally of eight strikes in the group stage has seen her move onto 81 international goals after becoming her nation's all-time top goalscorer in 2019.
Wiegman has plenty of attacking options to choose from to join Miedema, with Lieke Martens having hit four goals, Lineth Beerensteyn having three and Victoria Pelova and Shanice van de Sanden both sitting on two.
Key midfielder Julie Ertz recently returned to the USA Women starting XI, offering a huge boost to Andonovski's side with her quality and experience.
Megan Rapinoe was also brought back into the side for the second and third group games after missing the opening clash, and she will be a key player in the forward line on Friday.
She should again be joined in the front three by Christen Press and Alex Morgan, who has hit 111 goals in 182 appearances for her nation.
Meanwhile, Carli Lloyd will also hope for a return to the starting XI, having scored 126 international goals at the age of 39.
The front line will be supported by the attacking threat of midfielder Rosemary Lavelle, who opened the scoring in their convincing win over New Zealand Women.
Netherlands Women possible starting lineup:
Van Veenendaal; Wilms, Van Der Gragt, Nouwen, Janssen; Roord, Groenen, Van De Donk; Martens, Miedema, Van De Sanden
USA Women possible starting lineup:
Naeher; O'Hara, Sauerbrunn, Davidson, Dunne; Lavelle, Ertz, Horan; Rapinoe, Morgan, Press
We say: Netherlands Women 3-2 USA Women
Friday's quarter-final clash is bound to be full of goals given the record of Netherlands Women so far, and we see their in-form attacking line firing them to a somewhat shock victory.
While the likes of Morgan and Rapinoe possess the ability to punish the Dutch side's struggling defence, the USWNT have not looked at their best in this year's Games, and they could be outdone by a Netherlands Women side at the peak of their powers including Miedema, who will be keen to extend her impressive run of form in front of goal.
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