Women's World Cup rankings: Where USWNT stands among quarterfinalists


Women's World Cup rankings: Where USWNT stands among quarterfinalists

Eight teams remain in contention at the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup, and all but one of them hails from the same federation.

The United States Women's National Team is the only team that doesn't play in UEFA, and is surrounded by seven European sides in the quarterfinals. Still, the USWNT entered the tournament with a No. 1 ranking by FIFA, and they remain the standard other teams aspire to. 

That could change as soon as Friday, when they square off against France in Paris. The two have been on a collision course since groups were drawn, and Friday's match ensures that one of the tournament's best teams will be out before the semifinals. 

So, just how well does the USWNT stack up against France and the rest of the quarterfinalists? Here are our rankings from No. 8 through No. 1.

8. Norway

Ada Hegerberg's absence hasn't slowed down the Norwegians, although they would be among the favorites if the reigning Ballon d'Or winner was with the team. Norway's four goals scored from open play are the fewest of the remaining sides, but Saturday's win over Australia was Norway's best of the tournament from a shot-quality perspective.

The close scoreline in a 2-1 group-stage loss to host France was a bit too kind to the visitors, but England's own struggles against Cameroon in the Round of 16 could give Norway an opening. But with the best player in the world skipping the tournament protesting Norway's inequitable treatment of its men's and women's teams, the Norwegians lack the extra bit of finishing needed up front to take advantage. 

7. Italy

The Italians reached the quarterfinals for the first time in 28 years, back when the tournament consisted of just 12 teams. Italy advanced Tuesday thanks to a 2-0 win over China, behind goals from Cristiana Girelli and Aurora Galli.

Once again, Italy conceded the lion's share of possession as its defense held firm. Italy's two goals conceded are tied with France for fourth-fewest among the quarterfinalists, but the Italians will easily face their stiffest test of the tournament thus far in the Netherlands, the reigning European champions. Still, Italy's defense is good enough to spring the upset. 

6. Sweden

Thanks to a dramatic penalty save from keeper Hedvig Lindahl, Sweden knocked Canada out of the World Cup with a 1-0 win Tuesday. The Canadians' conservative style did the talented North American side no favors, but the Swedes only conceded a single shot on target. 

Sweden avoided a quarterfinals match with France by finishing second in Group F behind the USWNT, but now has to beat Germany in order to advance to the semifinals for the third time in its history. Germany won a friendly between the two countries back in April, but the two-time winners aren't playing as well as results would indicate and Sweden's well-rounded attack -- seven different Swedes have scored -- could pose problems.

5. Netherlands

Welcome to the "Contenders With Question Marks" portion of these rankings. The Netherlands did not lose and conceded just three times en route to a European crown two summers ago, but this World Cup has not been nearly as dominant.

The Dutch have conceded in three straight matches, and beat Japan thanks to a late penalty Tuesday -- even though the Japanese had better chances in the Round of 16. Italy probably is not as good as Japan, but the Oranje simply isn't in tournament-winning form. 

4. England

Controversy with Cameroon aside, England's performance in the Round of 16 shouldn't encourage manager Phil Neville. The Three Lionesses benefitted from two (correct) VAR calls and took the lead thanks to an indirect free kick in the 14th minute. The English retained 69 percent of possession, but the 3-0 scoreline wasn't wholly indicative of their performance.

Neville has rotated his side throughout the tournament, but he is in danger of losing his two first-choice center backs. Steph Houghton, who has played every minute of England's World Cup campaign, was on the receiving end of a hard challenge in the Round of 16 and is doubtful for the quarterfinals. Millie Bright, who is dealing with a "virus," also could miss Thursday's match. With star right back Lucy Bronze also feeling under the weather, England should still be able to withstand Norway. But Neville's squad could be vulnerable beyond that. 

3. Germany

The good news? The Germans are the only team that hasn't conceded in the tournament, and only the Americans have scored more goals. The bad news? Their three wins haven't been as impressive as the collection of clean sheets would indicate.

Germany's finishing has mostly out-paced its chance generation, which isn't too surprising considering the team's talent and how short the tournament is. The absence of Dzsenifer Maroszan (broken toe) hasn't slowed Germany yet, and might not until the final considering the other countries on the Germans' side of the bracket. Don't be surprised if Germany trips up before then, though.

2. USA

After an uninspiring win over Spain, the USWNT is in danger of its earliest-ever elimination at the World Cup. Midfielder Lindsey Horan likely won't be left on the bench again, but the Americans have looked ill-protected along the back line at times throughout the tournament. Jill Ellis' side is talented to overcome that -- as well as her own tactical decisions -- so far, but Friday's quarterfinal is a different matter entirely. 

The match with host nation France easily is the most-anticipated of the tournament, and would be fitting of a World Cup final in just about any other year. France has already beaten the USWNT earlier this year and is strong enough to exploit their weaknesses. 

[RELATED: Every matchup in Women's World Cup bracket]

1. France

The hosts have had almost the opposite experience of Germany at the World Cup, and have left goals on the board in each of their last two matches. A 1-0 win over Nigeria ensured a perfect group stage, while a 2-1 win over Brazil in extra time sent France through to the quarterfinals. In both matches, France clearly was the better team despite narrowly winning. 

Because of that form, Les Bleus should have the edge over the USWNT ahead of Friday's quarterfinals. The United States is more talented and deeper, but you could argue France is playing better. For those reasons, the French should be considered favorites Friday and beyond. 

Wolves-Liverpool live stream: Watch Premier League game online, on TV


Wolves-Liverpool live stream: Watch Premier League game online, on TV

No Premier League team has stood in the way of Liverpool (21-1-0; 64 points) this season. Can Wolverhampton Wanderers (8-10-5; 34 points) be the first?

Wolves lost 1-0 at Anfield on Dec. 29, but they've only lost twice at Molineux Stadium this season. The Reds picked up a win there in the league last season, yet they were knocked out of the FA Cup at the Molineux just over a year ago. Nuno Espirito Santo's side need only one point Wednesday to grab sole possession of fifth place, and ending Liverpool's undefeated season would leave Wolves just three points back of fourth.

The league-leading Reds can extend their unbeaten streak to an astounding 40 matches, and that would leave Liverpool just nine games clear of matching Arsenal's all-time Premier League unbeaten streak (49 games). They would become only the third English club to cross the 40-match plateau, joining Arsenal and Chelsea. 

[RELATED: Burnley shock Manchester United in 2-0 win at Old Trafford]

Here's how to watch Thursday's Wolves-Liverpool match live online and on TV.


When: Thursday, Jan. 23 at 3:00 p.m. ET/12:00 p.m. PT
Online: NBC Sports

Tottenham-Norwich live stream: Watch EPL game online on NBC Sports Gold


Tottenham-Norwich live stream: Watch EPL game online on NBC Sports Gold

With the end of the winter transfer window looming, every Tottenham Hotspur (8-7-8; 31 points) match could be Christian Eriksen's last.

Spurs manager José Mourinho confirmed the Danish midfielder will be in the squad Wednesday at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium against Norwich City (4-5-14; 17 points), but how much longer is anyone's guess. Eriksen has been linked to a move with Inter Milan, and the club's sporting director said Monday that the Italian giants have submitted a bid. Eriksen reportedly turned down a contract extension with Spurs earlier this season, and the clock is ticking on Tottenham's ability to get any kind of transfer fee for him, as his contract is set to run out this summer. 

Norwich frustrated Tottenham in a 2-2 draw at Carrow Road on Dec. 28, twice taking the lead over Spurs. The Canaries got a big boost in their quest to avoid relegation Saturday, beating fellow cellar-dwellers Bournemouth at Carrow Road. They're still six points from safety, though, so Wednesday's match firmly is in must-win territory. 

[RELATED: Luiz red card sets Arsenal back in wild derby draw with Chelsea]

Here's how to watch Wednesday's Tottenham Hotspur-Norwich City match exclusively streaming on NBC Sports Gold. 

When: Wednesday, Jan. 22 at 2:30 p.m. ET/11:30 a.m. PT
Stream: NBC Sports Gold

You can also watch Leicester City-West Ham streaming exclusively on NBC Sports Gold during that window.