Being billed as the biggest match of the tournament so far (and it is a semi-final, so it’s only right). When England and the US take to the pitch in Lyon for the first semi-final, it will only be the 17 meeting of the two nations – a clash that the Americans have historically dominated with ten wins to England’s four.
Far from strangers, the two have sparred once a year, every year since the inception of the SheBelieves Cup in 2016. Although England have faired okay against the hosts, it’s always worth remembering that the Brits are usually in season when they clash whereas the Americans are very much pre-season.
Neither team has gone out and stamped their authority on the competition yet and there is no better time for either to show their credentials – although their last match (against Norway) was arguably England’s best this summer. There’s an argument that neither has truly been tested but the world champions haven’t looked overly comfortable in the knockouts, needing two penalties against Spain and an over-looked handball against a lacklustre France.
It’s likely that the wide areas will be where the match is won and lost with the Americans opting to use two attackers at fullback and whilst both are happy to join the attack and press, on the rare occasion they are asked to defend, their frailties are highlighted. However, it’s key to note that both teams possess a lot of strengths in attack on the wings and it’s likely to be a non-stop 90 minutes.
There has been plenty of talk about what’s happening off the field but when it comes to kick-off time, all that matters is what happens on the pitch and although the US are clear favourites, England have more than a slim chance. However, in the biggest match of his career, it’s imperative that Phil Neville doesn’t try to overthink and outsmart the competition, but rather call upon the best XI for the job.
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