Jul 25, 2012 at 12:53pm IST

Women's football to kick off London Olympics

Though the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games will be on July 27 in London, there will be plenty of sporting action taking place 48 hours before with the fifth edition of the Women's Olympic Football Tournament kick-starting on Wednesday in Wales.

The highlight of the day will be USA vs France at Glasgow's Hampden Park, two teams seen as gold-medal favourites. USA are the defending champions smarting from defeat to Japan in the 2011 World Cup final and will be eager to add to a proud assembly line of trophies, while France will be out to avenge their World Cup semi-final defeat against the same team.

USA have won their last five matches at the Women's Olympic Football Tournament and should they beat France, they will match the record of six consecutive victories set by Norway between 2000 and 2008.

Women's football to kick off London Olympics

A full two days before the opening ceremony, the Women's Olympic Football Tournament starts in Wales.

USA head coach Pia Sundhage revealed the Americans had been monitoring France ahead of their game in Glasgow, sending scouts to watch their victory over Japan last week. "We've been able to give enough information to our players so that they can prepare for that game," she said. "Their strength is the attack. When they get comfortable with the ball in the attacking third, they are unpredictable. So we need to stay tight and our back four with the midfielders need to be compact and control the game by doing some good defending."

From a crowd perspective, the marquee match will be in Cardiff where hosts Great Britain – making their Olympic debut - will open the tournament against New Zealand. This will be the first time a GB women's side has taken the field for a competitive game, and head coach Hope Powell is aware of the odds stacked against her team. "Obviously we want to go as far as we can, a podium finish if possible," she said. "First we have to get out of the group and if we play well and have a little good fortune, who knows?"

"New Zealand have done a lot of work in the last 12 months. They work really well together as a unit. They have pace, they're aggressive and they run and run ridiculously for 90 minutes. In all areas they have tried to improve their game and we expect a tough encounter," she added.

One of the teams to watch is Japan, who upset the order of women's football last year when they stunned the US in the World Cup final in Germany on penalties. The 'Nadeshiko' are now attempting to become only the second side in history to hold World Cup and Olympic titles at the same time, though the build-up to the Games hasn't been smooth.

In June, Japan where thrashed 4-1 by the US and last week went down 2-0 to France in Paris. Ahead of their Group F opener against Canada in Coventry, Japan – who finished fourth at the 2008 Beijing Games – will need to find confidence considering their other opponents are Sweden and South Africa.

In other matches on Wednesday, Cameroon face Brazil, finalists in the last two Women's Olympic Football Tournaments; Sweden, who finished third at the World Cup, will meet South Africa; and Colombia will take on Korea DPR. If Brazil's 34-year-old veteran Formiga plays against Cameroon, she will become the only player to feature in every Women's Olympic Football Tournament to date.

Today's matches:

Group E: Great Britain vs New Zealand; Cameroon vs Brazil

Group F: Japan vs Canada; Sweden vs South Africa

Group G: USA vs France; Colombia vs Korea DPR

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