Women's World Cup: Rapinoe vs Bronze: Key battles ahead of semifinal

Megan Rapinoe and Lucy Bronze will be in direct competition in the Women's World Cup semifinal. We take a look at their Opta data.

England's Lucy Bronze and USA's Megan Rapinoe in action during the SheBelieves Cup in 2018.   -  Getty Images

Megan Rapinoe and Lucy Bronze have been the standout players for the United States and England at the Women's World Cup, and the winner of their duel in Lyon may determine who reaches the final.

Rapinoe has captured the attention of everyone from US president Donald Trump to actor Zac Efron with back-to-back braces that has fired USA to an eighth successive semifinal.

Meanwhile, Bronze was called "the best player in the world" by her manager Phil Neville after her thumping first-time finish capped an all-action display in England's 3-0 quarter-final win over Norway.

With left-sided forward Rapinoe set to go up against right-back Bronze in Tuesday's semifinal, we crunched the Opta numbers on both women.

Potent Pinoe

Rapinoe, nicknamed 'Pinoe', is one of the joint leaders for the Golden Boot, having become the first woman since Brazil's Marta in 2007 to score two or more goals in consecutive fixtures.

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The forward has found the net five times this tournament – the same as teammate Alex Morgan, England's Ellen White and Australia's Sam Kerr – but Rapinoe has the best shot conversion rate (45.45 per cent) of everyone but France defender Wendie Renard (57.14 per cent).

With two assists too, Rapinoe has seven goal involvements, one fewer than the leader in that category Morgan, whose five goals all came in the 13-0 thrashing of Thailand.

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Megan Rapinoe is the first player to score two or more goals in back-to-back Women's World Cup appearances since Marta in 2007.Since her Women's World Cup debut in 2011, no player has been directly involved in more goals in the competition than USA's Megan Rapinoe (13; 7 goals, 6 assists - level with Carli Lloyd).   -  Getty Images

 

A creative force

A unique player on this USA team, Rapinoe's flair and creativity set her apart. She shot to prominence on the world stage as a substitute in 2011 by delivering the pinpoint cross for Abby Wambach's dramatic extra-time equaliser in the win over Brazil. Rapinoe remains a threat from the left wing having played the most passes into the box in this tournament (42).

Morgan is viewed as the fulcrum in USA's attacking trident, yet the statistics show Rapinoe is the one who tends to make things happen. She has created 14 chances so far – fewer than only Guro Reiten, Kosovare Asllani and Amel Majri among all players.

The Bronze Bomber

A right-back in name only, Bronze loves to bomb on and has the freedom to drift inside, as she showed by providing the assist for White's goal against Cameroon from a position typically occupied by a number 10.

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Bronze is integral to everything England do and no one in the tournament has touched the ball as often as she has (478). The 27-year-old has had 71 successful passes ending in the final third – the most of all defenders. Her 10 touches in the opposition box are only bettered by Majri, Renard and Crystal Dunn among those who play at the back. Bronze has delivered the third-most crosses from open play of any defender (15) and is joint-second for goal involvements with three.

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Lucy Bronze is the first England player to both score and assist a goal in the same Women's World Cup game since Jill Scott against New Zealand in 2011; all five of her goal involvements (3 goals, 2 assists) at the FIFA Women's World Cup have been in the knockout stages.   -  Getty Images

 

Defensive diligence

Bronze is much more than just an attacking outlet and her defensive statistics are also among the best. With the centre-back pairing of Steph Houghton and Millie Bright looking vulnerable at times, Bronze's ability to sweep in behind and snuff out danger has contributed to Neville's side keeping four straight clean sheets.

She has won 44 duels, the fourth-most among all players, and has 11 interceptions - three fewer than the leader in that category, Noko Matlou. The Lyon right-back has also made 13 tackles, good enough for sixth-most among defenders.

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