France are surefire contenders in the women's soccer world, but they are no match for the nearly flawless Japan squad in these London Games.
The two will face off in the semifinals at the Olympics after picking up two solid wins in the quarterfinals round. France took care of business against Sweden 2-1, while Japan defeated the feared Brazilians in 2-0 fashion.
Japan and France are both teams that have the ability to take down the ever-so-polished Team USA. There is no denying that these are two of the top three teams to come to the Olympics.
What's also clear is that Japan's red-hot defense and prolific counter attack are exactly what will propel this team over France in the semifinals.
Defensively, Japan is outright stellar and is easily the best in the business alongside Team USA.
This back line has allowed just one goal the entire Olympic tournament, which was conceded to Canada in a 2-1 win in their first match at the Games. Since then, the team has posted three consecutive shutouts and left teams helpless in the attack game.
Japan's offense is sound, but certainly isn't on the level of the French. Yet what must be understood is that this relatively conservative, patient soccer that Japan plays does lead to goal-scoring chances.
If there's one thing that these Japanese have perfected, it's the counter game.
This is a team that makes the most of its opportunities on scoring chances. The Japanese proved just that in the 2-0 win over Brazil. Brazil was easily the favorite (along with the United States) to take gold, and Japan demoralized them.
The most exciting part about this team is the fact that every player on the pitch can score. All four goals in the tournament have come from different players, which is a testament to their offensive balance.
As France is clearly an aggressive, offensive-minded team, they will inevitably push the pace in the quarterfinals. Make no mistake about it, a tough defense will be looking for daylight to push the ball back up the field to put Japan on the board.
With a top-notch back line and the ability to make teams pay on the counterattack, Japan will likely face the Americans in the finals.
Prediction: Japan 2, France 1