Europe Rising

In women's soccer, that is.  In most other respects it's going to hell in a handbasket, though maybe no as fast as the US and UK.

The US narrowly beat the UK, France, and Spain to go to the finals of the World Cup, but those games were close, especially with France and the UK.  Either could easily have gone the other way.  The US ought to be a favorite in the finals too, especially if Rapinoe and Lavelle can get healthy, but it is clear that Europe can now play very well too.

According to this excellent NYT article, Europe's rapid advance has been built on the adoption of women's teams by the European super clubs.

The explanation for that success is, at first glance, remarkably simple. The well-financed national federations of developed countries that are forces in the men’s game have turned their resources and their expertise on to their women’s teams; the even richer clubs in those countries have invested yet further.
 That has allowed players, for the most part, to turn professional. It has given them access to high-quality coaching, world-class facilities, state-of-the-art medical care.
It has also created a culture of excellence. The wages now available — and the infrastructure in place — have enabled Europe’s major clubs to gather together squads made up of the finest players in the world. Barcelona had 15 players in France for this tournament; Lyon, women’s soccer’s standard-bearer, 14. Chelsea and Manchester City dispatched 12, Bayern Munich 10, Paris St.-Germain and Arsenal nine each. “Look at France,” Marta, the Brazil forward, said before the two teams met in the last 16. “The base is entirely Lyon.”
The traditional US base has been the colleges, but while the US has women professionals, it has no superclubs, in the men's game or elsewhere.


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