The United States women’s national team (USWNT) opens its World Cup campaign on Tuesday, taking on Thailand in Reims, France.
Having secured an uncommon third title four years prior, USWNT is bidding to turn out to be just the second group in women’s World Cup history to win the tournament in back-to-back editions.
While bookmakers are backing the U.S. to defend its title, the main topic of discourse in front of the opening fixture on Tuesday was a former player—Hope Solo.
The goalkeeper, who won the World Cup four years back, addressed mentor Jill Ellis’ team selection and suggested she tends to struggle under pressure.
“I don’t agree a lot with Jill Ellis, to be quite honest,” she told BBC’s Football Daily Podcast.
“She’s not the leader I wish her to be. She relies heavily on her assistant coaches. She cracks under the pressure quite a bit. But oftentimes it doesn’t matter, because the quality of the players on the U.S. team is superb.”
Solo’s successor, Alyssa Naeher, demanded she had not been paying attention to the criticism aimed at Ellis.
“I haven’t been on social media since we left New York, so I’m not really sure what’s going on,” she said during a press conference on Sunday, as per Yahoo Sports.
Less than ideal as they may be, off-field distractions are probably not going to counteract USWNT from getting off to a successful World Cup campaign.
Here’s all that you need to know ahead of Tuesday.
When and where is the game?
USWNT and Thailand are the last two teams to make their tournament debut. The two teams square off at 9 p.m. local time (3 p.m. ET) on Tuesday, June 11, at Stade Auguste-Delaune in Reims.
Alongside Roazhon Park, the arena is one of two World Cup venues in the city.
It hosted Norway’s 3-0 win over Nigeria on Saturday and, aside from Team USA’s match with Thailand, it will stage a further four games in the tournament.
USWNT’s opening round of the competition will be available FOX Sports’ and Telemundo Deportes’ digital platforms. Live streams will also be available on fuboTV, Sling Blue, Hulu Live and PlayStation Vue.
USWNT goes into its first round of thetournament as the overwhelming favorite. According to Oddschecker, Team USA is as short as 1/41 to win on Tuesday, while Thailand is 80/1 to cause an upset and odds on the draw are as long as 28/1.