x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

USA striker Abby Wambach in confident mood

Despite their road to Germany being marked by bumps and potholes, the USA are confident they can recapture the form of the last two decades and win a third World Cup.

Despite their road to Germany being marked by bumps and potholes, the USA women are confident they can recapture the form that made them the dominant team for much of the last two decades and win a third World Cup.

The Americans are sitting at the top of Group C ahead of Saturday's game against Colombia, the World Cup newcomers, and know victory coupled with a win or a draw for Sweden will move them into the last eight.

Yet, incredibly, they almost never made it the finals.

After going more than two years without a loss, the US dropped three games in a period of five months.

The Americans were stunned in the semi-finals of regional qualifying by Mexico, a team that had only drawn one of the previous 25 matches between the two sides.

The US ended up having to win a home-and-home play-off with Italy just to get to Germany.

The United States then lost to Sweden in the first game of a Four Nations tournament earlier this year before recovering to win the title. That victory, however, was offset by their first defeat to England since 1988.

All along, the Americans insisted they would be fine once the tournament started. "It doesn't matter what happened in the past," Abby Wambach, the forward, said.

"It's all about what's happening in this tournament, and that's what we're focused on.

"We believe we can win this tournament."

The Americans are the top-ranked team in the world, two-time defending Olympic champions, and possess the best goalkeeper in Hope Solo and one of the best strikers in Wambach.

In tonight's action, Germany and France will be looking to follow up their opening victories when they face Group A rivals Nigeria and Canada respectively.

Germany, the hosts and winners of the previous two World Cups in 2003 and 2007, have enjoyed huge home support after nearly 50,000 fans turned up at Berlin's Olympic Stadium to witness their 2-1 victory against Canada on Sunday, while television audiences peaked at 18 million viewers, a new record for a women's match in Germany.

They will fancy their chances of adding to their three points against the African champions, who lost 1-0 to France in their first fixture of the tournament.

* Associated Press

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