Tuesday night saw the exciting climax of the SheBelievesCup in the USA, with England Lionesses lifting the trophy after beating Japan 3-0 in Tampa. This is the first time the Lionesses have ever won the competition, and there are certainly positives to take away from this competition as England’s focus shifts to prepare for the summer World Cup in France.
Arguably the biggest take-away of this tournament is England’s draw to the USA. The USA are the dominant power in women’s football, placed first in the FIFA rankings. England played a decent first half of football, with the US side struggling to break through and score that crucial goal. Admittedly the USA did draw first blood, with a Megan Rapinoe goal attempting to get the US more settled into the game. However, England’s quick-fire response was commendable, with captain Steph Houghton scoring a fantastic free-kick that curled right around the US wall to pull England level.
The response to the US goal is a promising sign of a confident team, who can only continue to grow under Phil Neville’s stewardship. It shows that the side are not only strong physically, but also mentally- which is especially key in the modern game. It is very easy to consider the prowess of the US team in recent years, and for morale to fall. However, the Lionesses performance in that game was excellent. They were very unfortunate to draw, considering the amount of opportunities and chances that arose to get the winner in the final twenty minutes. Although this was incredibly frustrating, it’s also fantastic to get a draw against the best team in the world, and to have been the better team.
Furthermore, the performances of individual players was especially encouraging for the Lionesses, considering they were missing key players such as Millie Bright and Jill Scott. As ever, Steph Houghton didn’t fail to impress, displaying an all-round solid performance at the back and netting a goal. Additionally, Ellen White was incredibly impressive, being that nuisance that defenders despise. Laura Staniforth also stood out, creating chances and scoring a goal. Plus England are in no danger of having any goalkeeping problems for the World Cup, with Karen Bardsley and Carly Telford providing reassuring performances between the sticks.
The Lionesses have also proven their worth in the World Cup qualifiers, with seven wins and a draw under their belts. Going into the World Cup, England are in a group with Argentina, Japan and the “auld” foes Scotland. This should prove to be very lively group, with Scotland entering their first ever World Cup. Additionally, England will be confident going into their game against Japan having beaten them 3-0 in their latest competition. The Lionesses will be looking to pit themselves as the main contenders for World champions.
Overall, England should be very hopeful in this upcoming World Cup. The SheBelievesCup has seen England manage and deal extraordinarily well with the top sides in the world. With the return of players such as Bright and Scott, England should be very confident going into France this year.
The Women’s World Cup this year will be the eighth running of the competition, with the tournament taking place in France from 7th June until 7th July. Teams included in the tournament include England, defending champions USA, 2011 champions Japan and, for the first time in their history, the Scottish national women’s team.