The 2019 World Cup kicks off in Paris today, with hosts (and one of the biggest favorites) France taking on South Korea in Group A. The French are loaded at nearly every position, and coming off of a men’s World Cup win last year, expectations are sky-high. With an experienced spine and a squad that includes seven players from Olympique Lyon — widely regarded as the world’s most talented club side — the feeling is that France is on a collision course with the USWNT in the quarterfinals.
However, the draw did them no favors, as there is no pushover in this group. Nigeria and Norway are both tough teams, but first up the French face a South Korea side that, while not on anyone’s list of favorites, still have some major talent. Midfielder Ji So-yun is a star with Chelsea, and is good enough to give any team on the planet trouble. If the Koreans can withstand what will likely be a ton of defensive pressure, they might just be able to get something going on the counter.
Player to watch: Amandine Henry. The former Portland Thorns player is one of those stars on Lyon’s roster these days, and she generally can be seen putting on a defensive midfield masterclass for club and country. With France likely to be facing a low-block, that means she’s going to have a ton of touches, and that she’ll have to dictate the tempo of the game from deep. Too slow, and the Koreans will be able to hold their shape; too fast, and the openings France needs to create won’t have time to actually develop.
On top of that, Henry will have plenty of defensive work to do against Ji and the rest of the Korean midfield. If French attacks break down when les Bleus commit too many numbers forward, Henry’s choices defending in transition may well be the difference between snuffing the danger out early or being stunned by a Korean goal.
Location: Parc des Princes (Paris)
Kickoff time: 3:00pm Eastern
Available TV: Fox Sports 1, Telemundo
Available streaming: If you subscribe to fuboTV via this link, your friends at B&RU get some cash!
Here are your other options: Fox Sports Go, Fox Soccer Match Pass, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo
For listings in other countries, check out LiveSoccerTV.com.
Recommended reading: Start off with our previews of both France and South Korea. Both teams were given respectable rankings in the “fun to watch” category that our friend Kim McCauley put together as well, so don’t expect this game to be boring.
What are you drinking?: Gonna be at a desk when this one gets going, so unfortunately nothing more noteworthy than some Polar grapefruit seltzer.
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