USA face the Netherlands in the quarter-finals at Tokyo 2020
Repeat of the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™ Final
Read FIFA.com's interview with USA midfielder Julie Ertz
Having arrived in Japan as reigning world champions, USA found the group phase of the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament Tokyo 2020 far tougher than expected. Beaten 3-0 by Sweden in their opener, they hit their stride with a 6-1 defeat of New Zealand only to struggle again in a tense goalless draw with Australia.
“I wouldn’t say we were nervous,” Stars and Stripes midfielder Julie Ertz told FIFA.com. “We stayed pretty compact and tried to attack as a unit. We didn’t make the best choices and we could have looked for better openings. When you’re in the group phase, you tend to play it safe and go for the least risky option instead of the best one.”
“We’ve been through it all in these three matches and we’ve got plenty to ponder,” the 29-year-old, two-time world champion continued, speaking before it was revealed that the Netherlands would be their quarter-final opponents. “We’ll be more ambitious in the knockout phase. That’s a given. I can’t wait for us to finally show what we’re capable of and to see how the team adapts as the tournament goes on.
“Our first objective in the group phase was to go through. We’ve done that, we’ve learned the lessons, and we’re going to push on and focus on the next match. That’s how we see things as a team.”
9 - Friday’s quarter-final will be the ninth meeting between the two countries. The Oranje Leeuwinnen won the first in 1991, only for the Americans to prevail in all eight of the rest, the last of them that France 2019 Final.
Ertz and her team-mates coasted to victory in that Women’s World Cup Final, the first time the Dutch had gone that far. Two years on, and the dynamic has changed completely. Unlike the Americans, the Oranje sailed through the group phase. Emphatic 10-3 and 8-2 wins over Zambia and China PR respectively put them in a commanding position in the group, which they won on goal difference after sharing the points in a 3-3 draw with runners-up Brazil.
The Dutch also have a weapon that Vlatko Andonovski’s side currently lack: an in-form striker. Appearing in her first Olympic tournament, Vivianne Miedema is on top of her game, helping herself to eight goals in those three fixtures, a haul that has made her not only the top scorer at Tokyo 2020 but also the scorer of the most goals in a single edition of the women’s competition.
Ertz, who kept the Oranje goal machine quiet in the France 2019 showdown, knows the task will be an even tougher one in Friday’s quarter-final, a game in which Miedema will earn her 100th cap and will be gunning for revenge.