After 24 matches spanning the group stage and knockout rounds, the Women’s Soccer tournament at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics has reached the medal round. Four teams remain in contention to contest two final matches.
The bronze medal match will take place at four am Eastern Standard Time on August fifth. The gold medal match will take place later that same day, kicking off at ten pm EST on the fifth.
🎸 "It's the final countdown!" 🎹
— FIFA Women's World Cup (@FIFAWWC) August 2, 2021
Bronze Medal Match
The bronze medal match at the Tokyo Olympics will be contested between the United States and Australia.
Both these teams enter the match in a somewhat unfamiliar position. Neither the USWNT nor the Matildas have ever participated in a bronze medal match at the Olympics. For the US, this is because they have been present in the gold medal match in five of the six Olympic women’s soccer tournaments. For Australia, this is because they have never finished above fifth place in the Olympics prior to this year.
This discrepancy could be indicative of the trend of the rest of the world catching up to the USWNT that we have seen over the last two Olympic cycles.
Either way, this is a very important game for both teams. The USWNT will want to salvage a medal after entering the tournament as favorites. On the other hand, Australia will not want to let their chance at a first Olympic medal in soccer pass them by.
The two teams met once already in this tournament in group play. On that day, they played to a 0-0 draw. The USWNT had four shots on target to Australia’s two, but there was not a whole lot to separate the two sides.
Based on how the two teams have performed over the course of the tournament, it seems likely that we will see another extremely close match to decide who takes home the bronze medal.
Gold Medal Match
After the bronze medal match has been conducted, the final match of the tournament will take place between Canada and Sweden.
Both teams picked up 1-0 victories in the semi-finals to get to this point. Canada upset the United States, while Sweden took care of business against Australia.
At this point in the tournament, it is hard to argue that Sweden has not been the most impressive team. The Blue and Yellow have won every single match they have played in regulation.
Canada has also avoided defeat to this point in the tournament. However, they drew twice in the group stage and needed penalties to get past Brazil in the quarter-finals.
Both Sweden and Canada have stood on Olympic podiums in the past. Canada earned the bronze medal in both 2012 and 2016, while Sweden took home silver in 2016. Neither team has tasted gold, so regardless of the result, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will produce a first time winner.
Based on their stellar play throughout the tournament, Sweden has earned the right to be considered favorites for this match. However, it would be unwise to count their opponents out. Canada showed impressive fight to knock out traditional powers in Brazil and the United States. The role of underdog will suit them once again in the gold medal match.
At this point in the tournament, the teams that remain are here because they have earned it. All four teams are deserving of a medal, so it feels unfair in some ways that the fourth placed team will be going home empty handed.
Then again, that is the nature of the Olympics, and it is part of why the games produce such compelling sporting drama.
Based on the tournament so far, here is how I think the Tokyo 2020 medals will shake out on Thursday:
Bronze: United States
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Featured image courtesy of @FIFAWWC.