England take on defending champions USA in a mouthwatering Women’s World Cup semi-final in Lyon on Tuesday.
The Lionesses crushed Norway in impressive style to reach this stage, seeing off their fellow Europeans with an emphatic 3-0 win thanks to goals from Jill Scott, Lucy Bronze and, again, Ellen White.
USWNT, meanwhile, silenced their critics with a 2-1 win over hosts France with Megan Rapinoe grabbing both goals as Jill Ellis’ side overcame their toughest opponents at this World Cup so far.
Read on for TV channel info, stats, predictions and team news for what is sure to be a blockbuster Women’s World Cup semi-final.
When is England v USA?
Competition: 2019 Fifa Women’s World Cup
Venue: Parc Olympique Lyonnais, Lyon
Date: Tuesday, July 2
Kick-off: 20:00 BST
Where can I watch live?
England v USA will be shown live on BBC One and BBC One HD, while the game will also be available on BBC’s iPlayer service. Radio coverage is also available via BBC Radio 5 Live and talkSPORT.
The Lionesses have done it again. For the second World Cup in a row, they’ve reached the semi-finals. Phil Neville’s side have gradually improved as the tournament has gone on, showing glimpses of their class in the group stages but also revealing some weaknesses in their armour, before keeping their cool in the insanity that was their round-of-16 game against Cameroon.
The African side’s antics took most of the headlines there but it’s worth noting that although England won 3-0, Cameroon still caused them plenty of trouble. Their most complete performance, by far, came in their quarter-final win over Norway, also 3-0. England barely gave the Scandinavians a sniff, defending resolutely and attacking with verve and fluidity. It bodes well for Neville that his players are hitting their peak at this stage.
A challenge like no other
As impressive as they were against a good Norway side, and as calm as they were against Cameroon, the Lionesses are yet to face anyone quite like the USA.
Jill Ellis’ side smashed Thailand 13-0 in their opener, setting a new scoreline record at the Women’s World Cup. They’ve had plenty of critics since then, but they’ve still beaten Chile, Sweden – who are also in the semi-finals – Spain and France to reach this stage, conceding just two goals.
Their 2-1 win over France in the quarter-finals on Friday evening was particularly impressive, given how strong Les Bleues have been with their home support.
Rapinoe has four goals in her last two games and is leading USWNT by example, while we’re all just ready and waiting for Alex Morgan to burst back into life having not scored since netting five against Thailand.
Whatever happens, we’re set for an absolute thriller.
Subscribe to Squawka’s Youtube channel here.
Is Phil Neville trying to emulate Ferguson?
Neville had us all fooled in the build-up to England’s quarter-final against Norway.
“Both are major doubts,” he said about centre-back pairing Steph Houghton and Millie Bright. “Steph because of the tackle, we are hoping she takes part in some training today, that is the key for her.
“Millie has got a virus that is going a little bit through the camp so she is probably more of a doubt than Steph.”
He then went on to tell us all just how confident he is in the ability of Leah Williamson and Abbie McManus, should they need to fill in.
So, what happened when the team sheets were announced for England v Norway? There were Houghton and Bright, fit as a fiddle in the middle of the England defence.
Given just how many leaves Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has taken out of the Sir Alex Ferguson book of management since taking over at Manchester United, it would come as absolutely no surprise if Neville had taken a few pointers in playing mind games before heading to France, too. After all, Fergie was considered by many, the ultimate master in the dark arts of deception.
Neville had the media, the opposition and possibly even his own players fooled by this one, but it’s this sort of unpredictability and pre-game skulduggery that helped define Ferguson at Old Trafford.
Gary Neville once said of Ferguson’s management style on the Quickly Kevin, Will He Score? podcast: “This idea of winning in the tunnel before you’ve even gone out on the pitch, there was an element of that with him in terms of the psychology.”
It appears Phil was taking notes, as he has now thrown another potential pre-match stratagem, by suggesting he could look to reposition right-back Lucy Bronze as a makeshift midfielder, a tactical manoeuvre he previously utilised against USWNT in the SheBelieves Cup.
Lucy Bronze has scored the 900th goal in Women's World Cup history.
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) June 27, 2019
By moving Bronze further forward that would allow Rachel Daly to face Rapinoe, and Neville believes the 27-year-old could be the key component in stopping Ellis’ key player.
He said: “Rachel did really well against her [Rapinoe] in [the] SheBelieves [Cup]. We have a decision to make there.”
As mentioned, Houghton and Bright completed 90 minutes against Norway and should be fine to face USA. Neville has no other fitness concerns.
Oh, wow. This one really is tough to call. England are peaking at just the right time but, then again, USWNT’s win over France is so impressive and is a huge statement from them.
The Lionesses will push the three-time champions all the way but they won’t quite have enough.
England 1-2 USA (AET)