Drew Hallowell/Getty Images
July 31, 2012
TV Coverage: NBC Sports Network, 12:15p.m.-2:00p.m. ET
Though the Olympic spirit is one of cooperation and friendly competition between nations, sometimes the political situation between two countries can contribute to an atmosphere of increased intensity on the field.
Translation: Expect a hard fought battle between the United States and North Korean women's soccer teams.
The North Koreans, already offended by a pre-game mixup Wednesday that led to the South Korean flag being displayed alongside their players head shots, would like nothing more than to defeat Team USA, who are the favorites to win both the group stage and the gold medal.
France, and Colombia make up the rest of Group G, and the French and the Americans are favored to advance. Though they trail the U.S. and France in talent by a significant margin, the North Koreans are far from the worst team at the Olympics, and it's not inconceivable that they could sneak past a very skilled but young French team.
North Korea knows that they will have to beat either Team USA or France if they hope to advance the the second round, and they should put up a spirited fight against the Americans.
While the U.S. should walk away with a relatively easy victory, the high stakes of the match and the political tensions between the two countries should make the USA-North Korea match one of the most exciting in the first round.