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Rapinoe and Bronze fighting for the Ballon d'Or?

England vs USA: The Ballon d'Or deciding factor for Lucy Bronze and Megan Rapinoe?

July 2, 2019 By Ali M.
The winger and right-back, who have been tipped to win the Ballon d'Or, will battle it out in Tuesday's highly-anticipated semi-final.

England vs the USA is fast approaching and this FIFA Women's World Cup semi-final clash will pit Megan Rapino and Lucy Bronze, two of star performers in France, against each in a highly-anticipated duel. One is a talented winger who plays on the left for the reigning champions; the other is a fearsome right-back who will be tasked with stopping her legendary opponent.

Both ladies have been influential in their nations road to the penultimate stage and while only one will make the final, their contribution must be appreciated. Rapinoe recently admitted to French TV that she aims to win the Ballon d'Or as it would mean she helped the Stars and Stripes to the title. Meanwhile, Three Lionesses boss Phil Neville hailed Bronze as the best player in women's football at the moment, but this begs the question: who has the better claim over France Football's coveted prize?

A lot rides on the Women's World Cup and their displays in Tuesday's semi-final could either make or break their case. Rapinoe has grown in the tournament and after her amazing performance in the round of 16 and quarter-final, she is now tied with team-mate Alex Morgan, England attacker Ellen White, and Australia's Sam Kerr in the Golden Boot race with five goals each.

Unlike Morgan, all five of the 33-year-old's goals did not come in a single game. In fact, four of them came after the group stage as no other player has scored for the USA in the knockout stage than the Reign FC superstar. A brace against Spain saw off the Europeans before another two-goal display in the last-eight helped eliminate hosts France from the competition and while two of those strikes came from penalties, her converting from the spot is what kept their title defense alive.

Rapinoe also has three assists under her belt, which means she has contributed to the most number of goals in this tournament, alongside Morgan. Only Sherida Spitse has more assists than Megan, which means the 33-year-old can finish the tournament as the top scorer and best playmaker. 

"Yes, [it's a dream]," the winger said about winning the aforementioned individual award. "If I win the Ballon d'Or after the World Cup, it would mean we've won the World Cup. So if that's come with it, I'm okay with it."

As for Bronze, she has two assists under her belt and only one goal, but this is expected from a full-back. However, her solo effort was a thunderbolt against Norway which brought the iconic David Beckham to his feet in admiration.

"I think what you've seen tonight, you've seen that Lucy Bronze is the best player in the world, without a shadow of a doubt," her manager told BBC Sport after that quarter-final victory.

Here's how Bronze compares to Rapinoe

Lucy Bronze, Megan Rapinoe, England, USA, FIFA Women's World Cup

"I've said it once, I'll say it three times. There's no player like her in the world, there's no player that has her athleticism or her quality and I'm very lucky. I played full-back but never to that level that she plays at - she's the best player in the world." 

The England ace has been rock-solid in defense, with the Three Lionesses conceding only once so far in the tournament -- that record will come under threat against the USA. Furthermore, as is the norm for the modern day full-back, Bronze often joins in the attack and her versatility means she is deployed in the midfield every now and then.

She was influential in England's 2015 campaign which came to an end in the semi-final but this time she's eyeing a ticket to the final. Her claim to the Ballon d'Or precedes the World Cup, having won the treble with Lyon last season (UEFA Women's Champions League, Division 1 Féminine, and Coupe de France Féminine). However, defenders tend to go under the radar when it comes to individual accolades but winning the title would give her a lead.

Of course, a lot depends on who will emerge triumphant in Tuesday showdown and while the result remains unknown, we are pretty sure everyone is in for a spectacle. With Rapinoe on one team and Bronze on the other, entertainment is guaranteed.

 

Match details, result and original broadcast info

England Women 1 - 2 USA Women

July 2, 2019 3:00pmGroupama Stadium (Décines-Charpieu)

This match has ended. Below are the original Live broadcast details for this match.

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