Following on from the men’s two Semi-Final’s in the last 12 months and their own World Cup and European success the England Women are once again into the last 4. This time it’s a little different, at the start of the completion my minimum expectation was for the Lionesses to reach this stage. That’s how good I think they are, they should not over celebrate and rest on their laurels. They’re ranked 3rd in the World for a reason, the ranking suggests they should be at this stage and anything less would have been disappointing.
This is not putting down there performances, the way they have dispatched Norway and Cameroon both 3-0 in the knockout rounds has been very impressive and comfortable, something we don’t associate with England football teams. Against Norway, Jill Scott & Lucy Bronze both showed their class by both putting in outstanding performances. Scott got her first goal of the tournament in only the second minute of the game, which got England off to the perfect start and set the tone for the remainder of the game. Scott is now England’s (men and women) all-time record World Cup appearance holder overtaking Peter Shilton. Shilton left Scott a message on Twitter to congratulate her which left Jill very emotional. Lucy Bronze showed why Phil Neville rates her as the best player in the world by making several long-bursting runs from her right back position. She provided the assist for Scott’s opener and repeated her feat of scoring a screamer from the edge of area against Norway in a World Cup Quarter Final by firing home to make it 3-0. Ellen White continued her scoring run with the second and go level at the top of the race for the golden boot. This is a great rise for Ellen having played second fiddle to Jodie Taylor, Who won the boot 2 years ago at the Euro’s.
England will play USA in the Semi Final after a closely fought contest against France. The USWNT could punish England if they don’t cut out some sloppiness at the back and poor passes. Steph Houghton in particular has had to put in some fantastic challenges to rescue her side due to errors from others but that’s why she is an outstanding defender and captain.
There are also players which can improve in the Attack, Toni Duggan for example is still suffering from not being fully fit and there is more to come from Fran Kirby. Neither have found the net yet which is quite staggering when you consider how talented they are and how free scoring England have been. If England are to lift the trophy I feel one or both of these two will have a big part to play.
England have options to change the starting line-up and one I would consider is in midfield, Keira Walsh is young and got caught out of position from her defensive midfield role on occasions against Norway and Jade Moore is much more experienced and steady alternative. The left back position is an interesting one for me because I am a massive fan of Alex Greenwood with her attacking delivery however Demi Stokes is stronger defensively and I think Neville will opt for her.