3. The French are fun to watch.
At their best, the Bleues are the most exciting team at the Women's World Cup. They combine all the qualities of the great French men's teams: individual skill, intricate passing, speed and strength.
The Bleues' first two goals in the round of 16 -- it took all of eight minutes for France to go 2-0 up on South Korea -- showcased all their talents. On the first goal, Eugenie Le Sommer plays a one-two with Necib into the left corner and cuts the ball back for the open Delie to score. On the second, Houara makes a run down the right side, draws a defender with her as she lays the ball off to Thomis, who cuts in from the right, plays a one-two with Amandine Henry and scores.
2. No one likes anything better than a good underdog.
France-Germany is one of soccer's great rivalries, but the Germans always seem to win.
On the men's side, Germany won the epic 1982 World Cup semifinal on penalty kicks, it won again four years later in the semifinals in Mexico and beat France last year in the World Cup quarterfinals. On the women's side, the Germans have won all three official matches, 3-1 and 5-0 at the European Championship and 4-2 at the 2011 Women's World Cup.
Our friends at ESPNW voted overwhelmingly for Germany to beat France: 10-2 in a poll of its experts. Even Noel Le Graet, president of the French federation, tried to soften the blow of a possible defeat, saying at a press conference on Thursday that a loss to Germany wouldn't be a setback for French women's soccer.
1. You've got to support someone.
I get this question all the time. Who do you support? These days, thanks to cable, streaming and the Internet, it's as easy to adopt a team in your hometown as it is a team thousands of miles away.
None of that was possible when I was growing up. The first international match I ever attended was at the Parc des Princes in Paris in April 1976. I had just arrived there to start work as an intern at an auto manufacturing company. By then, I was already struck with the soccer bug. The French league season was wrapping up, but France was playing the Soviet Union in an under-23 match. My American roommate thought I was crazy going to a soccer game a couple of days after my arrival to watch my adopted team. I didn't bother trying to explain to him I was going to something called an under-23 game.
I don't remember much about the game -- though many of the players went on to form the great French teams of the next decade -- but I remember afterward a magazine distributor dumped on the sidewalk piles of old copies of "Football Magazine," a short-lived almanac-style monthly published by the editors of France Football. I grabbed a dozen copies, hopped on the Metro and headed back to my apartment. I was in heaven.
Allez les Bleues!