The 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup has reached the quarterfinals.
Investment domestically is raising standards for players, cementing Europe's control of the global game.
The atmosphere at the Parc des Princes is expected to be highly charged, not just because of the quality of the teams but the groundswell of support from French World Cup fans and the soaring temperatures amid a heatwave.
But nowhere else in Europe has the women's game grown so fast over the past few years as in France, where the number of players has shot up from 54,000 in 2011 to 140,000 today, according to the FFF.
The majority of the squad still plays for Norwegian clubs, which struggle to make an impact in continental competitions and can't afford the professional contracts enjoyed by the entire England traveling party. "In Scandinavian countries they were really early starting with women's football-that means we have a history. but bigger nations started to invest".
The Women's World Cup has been nothing short of a sensation this summer with millions of people tuning in and thousands of fans packing into the stadiums around France.
On the world stage, maybe.
To start with, both teams have changed much since that day. "It can pay off much quicker than in the men's game".
The U.S., which was 3-0 in group play, will face Curacao in the quarterfinals Sunday in Philadelphia.
France is embracing the underdog role heading into the contest against the three-time World Cup champions and four-time Olympic gold medalists.
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And elsewhere in Europe: Women's club games have attracted record crowds this year in Italy and Spain.
That isn't necessarily the case in every country, though, with the US Women's team now embroiled in a lawsuit with U.S. Soccer over wage-related issues. We're coming up against the best team in the world. "Sweden has to be creative to invest in that top level".
"This is the kind of game that makes World Cup so exciting", USA forward Tobin Heath said.
"It's been crying out for exactly what has happened", Bardsley said in Le Havre, where England plays Norway.
"It's clear to see the investment in the likes of England, Spain, France, Germany. has paid off".
The Women's Super League rights have always been bundled in with the male FA Cup. "That has been beneficial for the domestic players in those countries".
"That has exposed the players to things that they have never been exposed to", Bardsley said, "and it has kind of upped the bar in terms of performance standards".
"Because women's football is in its infancy, you don't have corruption scandals, you have good role models and season tickets are cheaper", said Minal Modha of media research firm Ampere Analytics. But I am free for the semis and the finals, so fingers crossed that the US makes it through so I can see them play once.
No matter where you stand on the debate, it's an important conversation to be having and now Donald Trump - one of the world's most powerful figures - has waded into the debate.
At L'Equipe, editors had a hunch that this World Cup could be different, pushing women's soccer into the big time.