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U.S. set to defend SheBelieves Cup in March

After taking the inaugural SheBelieves Cup, the USWNT ware looking for a repeat. (photo by US Soccer)

After taking the inaugural SheBelieves Cup, the USWNT ware looking for a repeat. (photo by US Soccer)

Four of the world’s top five ranked women’s football teams will do battle in the United States as the second ever SheBelieves Cup takes place at the start of March. The United States, Germany, France and England meet in the round-robin tournament that will be the biggest to be staged in women’s international soccer during 2017.

The hosts, who are the reigning World Cup champions, claimed last year’s inaugural title with 1-0 victories over England and France and a 2-1 success over runners-up Germany. England finished third with France in fourth, but there was little between all four teams with three games resulting in 1-0 wins, two in 2-1 wins and a 0-0 draw giving some exciting online sports betting opportunities.

The tournament format will be the same as last year, with the four teams each playing in three double-header events at three different venues over the course of a week. The U.S. enter the tournament on the back of a six-game winning streak which culminated in an impressive 5-0 victory over Romania on November 13.

Their first game on March 1 sees them face a German team who they have not lost against since the semifinals of the 2003 World Cup. The U.S. boasts a 20-4-7 record against Germany, including a 13-game unbeaten streak. Their last two meetings have been titanic struggles, with the US securing a 2-0 win in the 2015 World Cup semifinal and a 1-0 win in the first SheBelieves Cup.

U.S. coach Jill Ellis will call on her biggest stars for the tournament, including Carli Lloyd, Tobin Heath, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Alex Morgan, while up-and-coming youngsters Crystal Dunn and Mallory Pugh are likely to get a chance to shine.

Ellis will have to find a new starting goalkeeper, with Hope Solo’s future in doubt because of suspension and age.

Germany’s success at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio came after the US were surprisingly knocked out in the quarterfinals by Sweden. The Germans are now unbeaten in nine games as new head coach Steffi Jones looks to continue the excellent work of her predecessor Silvia Neid.

England face France in the tournament’s opening game hoping to register their first win against Les Bleues in 43 years. The Lionesses warmed up for the competition with a disappointing 1-0 defeat against Norway before drawing 0-0 with Sweden.

England lost to the US and Germany in last year’s SheBelieves Cup, but were unlucky not to claim victory in their final game against France. Katie Chapman, Karen Carney and Jordan Nobbs all missed good chances for England who eventually had to settle for a 0-0 draw.

The two teams also fought out a goalless draw in a friendly last October and with England only scoring three goals in their last five matches they will need to improve their finishing if they’re to make an impact at the SheBelieves Cup.

Schedule (all times ET)

March 1 at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, PA

England vs. France – 4 p.m.
United States vs. Germany – 7 p.m., FS1

March 4 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ

France vs. Germany – 2:15 p.m.
United States vs. England – 5 p.m., FOX

March 7 at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.

Germany vs. England – 4 p.m.
United States vs. France – 7 p.m., FS1

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