Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 13, 2016 - France and USA both had bad starts to the Olympic tournament; the Americans were dumped 3-0 by Canada while Italy breezed past France by the same score.
Things got worse for USA when they were beaten 3-1 by Italy on August 9 but they roared back to stun hosts Brazil 3-1 two days later.
France regrouped quickly and cruised to 3-0 wins over Mexico and Canada.
But in a tight group, both teams will be keen not to lose any further ground in Saturday’s clash. France sit second with a 2-1 record while USA are down in fifth place at 1-2. As they say in golf, Saturday is “moving day.”
The last time these two teams met in a major competition was actually in Rio de Janeiro in the 2015 FIVB World League. USA edged that one 3-1 to avenge a 3-1 loss to the French in the 2014 World Championship.
France will have to stop the top two scorers in the Olympic competition – Matthew Anderson and Aaron Russell – but France have equally talented spikers in Earvin Ngapeth and Antonin Rouzier.
Ngapeth is the second-best server in the tournament but USA’s Micah Christenson and Taylor Sander can also deliver powerful shots from the baseline. USA libero Erik Shoji is ranked the best digger in Rio.