PARIS    -   France’s last group game against Nigeria at the women’s World Cup will be a double-edged sword as a draw will see them advance as top of Group A, but will also send them towards a likely quarter-final clash against the United States.

Les Bleus laboured to a 2-1 win against 1995 champions Norway on Wednesday after thrashing South Korea in the tournament’s opening game last Friday. The U.S. are widely expected to also progress top of their group after claiming a record 13-0 victory against Thailand. The draw shows that Group A and Group F winners, if they win their last-16 match, will face each other for a place in the last four on June 28 in Paris. “We saw them against Thailand. Very strong team, we know that. But it’s still far away and we feel that the fans are behind us, they’re pushing us. We’ll see,” said defender Marion Torrent.  The prospect of facing the three-time world champions does not seem to worry coach Corinne Diacre, who does not want to see past the June 17 match against African champions Nigeria in Rennes. “I take it game by game. We want a perfect record,” she said. “We are still underdogs (in the competition). We’re not favourites at all.”

France, however, beat the U.S. 3-1 in their last encounter in January and at home, the support for Les Bleus has been fulsome. They were 34,872 fans at the Allianz Riviera for an official capacity of 35 ,624 on Wednesday and the Parc des Princes was sold out for the opener last week. The French team have also attracted record viewers, with 9.4 million watching on TF1 on Wednesday after 9.83 million tuned in for the opening game. With others watching the games on Canal Plus, more than 10 million watched both France matches.

Women’s World Cup on course for record-breaking turnout: More than 1.5 million supporters are expected to attend matches at the World Cup in France as the tournament is poised to set a new benchmark for the rising popularity of the women’s game, according to a study published on Thursday.  Research conducted by Women’s World Cup in Numbers here, which looks at the trends and numbers behind the growth of the men’s and women’s World Cups since 1991, shows attendance figures are set to peak at a record 1,716,000 across 52 matches.

The previous edition in Canada four years ago saw more than 1.3 million spectators attend games. More than 270,000 fans have attended the opening six days, which have already seen the United States, the defending champions, seal a record 13-0 victory over Thailand in Reims.

The 45,000-seater Parc des Princes in Paris was packed as the hosts defeated South Korea 4-0 in their opener last week. A total of 44 goals have been scored in the opening 15 matches, at an average of nearly three goals per game, to stay on course to eclipse the previous record of 146 from the 2015 edition — the first time the tournament had 24 teams.