Tonight will see The USA play Japan in the women’s soccer final at the Olympics, a familiar setting for both teams, and a rematch of the 2011 World Cup final, where Japan beat the Americans in last minute penalty shoot-outs. Losing to Japan is something that, in the words of USA’s Abby Wambach, the American team have been living with since that moment, and is something that they use to drive and motivate the team.
The Final tonight will take place in front of a packed (anticipated) 90,000 strong crowd at Wembley Stadium, the largest crowd most of the Japanese and American players have ever played in front of, and potentially the largest crowd to watch the sport at the Olympics ever.
But the rivalry between the teams isn’t as intense as you might expect, and the teams seem to share a mutual respect for each other. Speaking of tonight’s match, Wambach said -
“I’ve been hoping for this final, from the moment I stepped of the podium in Germany”
“We [USA and Japan] believe that we are the top 2 teams in the world and we believe our fans deserve to see a great final.”- Huffington Post
And both teams have great incentives to play for, with the USA determined to prove themselves as the world’s number 1 after last year’s World Cup defeat, and the opportunity for the Japanese team to become the first in the world to win a World Cup and the Olympics in consecutive years.