Five Things to Know: France

The U.S. Women’s National Team continues its quest for a fifth Olympic gold medal on Saturday, Aug. 6 (4 p.m. ET; NBSCN, NBC Universo) when it continues Group G play against France at Mineirão Stadium in Belo Horizonte. Here are five things to know about the USA’s highest ranked Group G opponent.

History at the Olympics:

Despite playing their first international match against England in 1920 and the women's game being played at the Olympics since 1996, France only made their debut in the Olympics in 2012. Drawn into a group with the United States, Colombia and North Korea, France qualified for the knockout stages with wins over the latter two. Les Bleues beat Sweden in the quarterfinals, putting them in position to medal in their maiden Olympic voyage, but losses to Japan in the semifinal and Canada in the bronze medal game meant France just missed the podium. The fourth-place finish marks their highest in any major competitions, tied with a fourth-place finish in the 2011 Women's World Cup.

Olympic Rematch:

During the 2012 Summer Games in London, France made their Olympic debut against the United States at Hampden Park in Glasgow. Les Bleues got off to a dream start building a 2-0 lead against the WNT after only 14 minutes through Gaetane Thiney and Marie-Laure Delie. Abby Wambach scored five minutes later and Alex Morgan leveled things in the 32nd minute, leaving the scored tied at the break. Carli Lloyd, who had come on early as a substitute for the injured Shannon Boxx, put the WNT ahead in the 56th minute and Morgan secured her brace a few minutes later to give the United States a 4-2 victory. 

A Golden Generation?

Despite never winning a major competition, Les Bleues enter the Olympics ranked third in the women's FIFA rankings, a spot they have held since 2014 and their highest ever, thanks in large part to players that make up their Olympic roster.  Six of the top 10 goal scorers in French history will be part of the roster in Brazil. Forwards Marie-Laure Delie, Elodie Thomas and Eugenie Le Sommer, as well as midfielders Camille Abily, Louisa Necib, and Elise Bussaglia have combined to score 241 goals between them. In addition to the attacking prowess, defender Wendie Renard and goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi bring Olympic experience to the backline.   

UEFA Women's Euro Qualifying:

France has already qualified for the European Championship next summer from Group 3 with a game to play. Unbeaten in all seven games, France are eight points clear of Ukraine, having scored 21 goals and kept their opponents completely off the score sheet. Sixteen teams will qualify for the European Championships hosted in the Netherlands, and France will be one of the favorites as they look to improve on a quarterfinal finish in 2013.

French Domestic League:

Part of the success the French team has seen during the past few years is influenced by the high standard of play in their domestic league. The Championnat de France de Football Feminin is widely considered as one of the best leagues in the world, and 16 of the 18 players in Brazil play in the division. Reigning champions Lyon are the most successful club in the country, winning the domestic title on 14 occasions and is the only club in France to win the UEFA Women's Champions League, most recently this past season. The league may be familiar to fans of the United States, as Hope Solo and Megan Rapinoe played for Lyon while Allie Long, Lindsey Horan, and Tobin Heath played for Paris Saint-Germain.