MX23RW : Thursday, November 21 09:30:09| >> :600:11750399:11750399:
Jul 2, 2019 at 8pm UK at ​Parc Olympique Lyonnais
Attendance: 53,512
England WomenEngland Women
1-2
USA WomenUSA Women
White (19')
Bright (86')
FT(HT: 1-2)
Press (10'), Morgan (31')

Preview: England vs. USA - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Tuesday's Women's World Cup semi-final between England and holders USA, including prediction, team news and head-to-head records.

The second heavyweight clash of this year's Women's World Cup will provide a tantalising semi-final showdown when England and USA, both with 100% records so far in the tournament, meet on Tuesday evening at the Stade de Lyon.

USA go into the game as warm favourites to reach the final on July 7 and lift the trophy, but an improving and highly confident England are considered the most likely of their remaining rivals to cause a major upset and break the holders' long unbeaten run.


England

England Women manager Phil Neville pictured on June 23, 2019© Reuters

Urged on by expectant audiences that have broken the television records for a women's game three times already this campaign, England are under greater pressure than at any time in their history.

A semi-final berth had been widely touted as a minimum requirement for Phil Neville and his spirited Lionesses in France, not least because they reached the final four in Canada four years ago, losing in agonising fashion to Japan.

Their last-gasp defeat was a harrowing exit to the tournament, and they will point to their pair of comfortable revenge victories this year, scoring five times without reply along the way, as symbols of significant subsequent progress.

Nevertheless, many pundits feel that England remain largely unproven under the resolutely bullish guidance of Neville, and breaking the dominance of their revered opponents would represent the perfect riposte to those criticisms, as well as the emergence of a genuine new force in the women's game.

England finally hit peak form against Norway after an unconvincing opening four matches in which they toiled to narrow wins against Scotland and Argentina before seeing off Japan and knocking out a bad-tempered Cameroon side who had finished third in Group E.

This is a match on home turf for feted Lyon right-back Lucy Bronze - scorer of a sensational long-range strike for England's third against Norway that is certain to rank as one of the goals of the World Cup once the dust has settled on this year's competition.

Forward Nikita Parris, who has not scored since netting against Scotland and missed a penalty that would have put England four up against Norway, will want to recapture her goalscoring form in the city where she will play from the start of next season.

England will need to enforce all of the defensive resolve that they have shown so far in their campaign, keeping clean sheets in all four of their matches since their opener against Scotland while scoring nine without reply.

Neville will lead England into only his third knockout match in charge, contrasting sharply with the ample experience of US counterpart Jill Ellis, who took her country to World Cup glory in 2015 and won two titles with the Under-21s and Under-20s.

The former Manchester United defender is unswerving in his commitment to a passing game, arguing that making adversaries chase possession is the surest way to tire them in the oppressive heat of a summer tournament.

The rookie coach's philosophy is easy on the eye but has seen questions asked of England's ruthlessness. Only one of their 11 goals in the tournament has arrived in the final third of a match.

Recent World Cup form: WWWWW
Recent form (all competitions): LWWWWW


USA

Megan Rapinoe of the USA celebrates scoring their second goal against France on June 28, 2019© Reuters

If statistics count for little in a match with as much riding on it as this, the reigning champions still have an astonishing sequence of results with which to bolster their unstinting existing belief that they will retain their crown.

Never ranked lower than number two in the world in their history, USA's record of one defeat in 43 matches is surely as close to unstoppable as any team has ever been in international football.

USA's quarter-final win over France meant they even avenged that one blip on their books, which came during a friendly against Les Blues in Le Havre in January.

Megan Rapinoe's forthright views and fearless demeanour have handed her the headlines, but the furore surrounding the midfielder should only make England all the more keenly aware of the fact that she has struck all four of the US's goals in the knockout stages.

While England have never won a World Cup or European championship, the US have a bulging trophy cabinet - six Olympic Games gold medals, eight CONCACAF Championship wins and three World Cups tell the tale of a nation accustomed to glory.

Still, there are hints of fallibility in this feared US side. France had 60% of the possession during that quarter-final, and their 20 shots during the match represented twice as many as the US managed.

Yet those figures could also indicate the lethal ability of Jill Ellis's side to exploit opportunities and ultimately prevail no matter how effectively their opponents restrict them.

France failed to hit the target in the first half and were brutally punished by Rapinoe, who had all but put the game out of sight before Wendie Renard gave the host nation 10 minutes of hope at the end.

Much of the pre-tournament talk had been around the US's destructive attacking and less assured defending. Spain found an equaliser and pegged them back for 65 minutes in their first knockout game, and they conceded four times in three games as they ceded the SheBelieves Cup to England earlier this year.

Despite starting the calendar year by winning only two of five matches, they are currently on a run of 11 straight wins and have scored 44 goals in their last 10 games, including 13 without reply against Thailand in the group stages in France.

Coach Ellis grew up near Portsmouth but has only ever coached in the US, where she moved with her family as a teenager in 1981.

Recent World Cup form: WWWWW
Recent form (all competitions): WWWWWW


Team News

England possible starting lineup:
Bardsley; Bronze, Houghton, Bright, Stokes; Walsh, Parris, Scott; Kirby, Duggan, White

USA possible starting lineup:
Naeher; O'Hara, Dahlkemper, Sauerbrunn, Dunn; Lavelle, Ertz, Mewis, Heath; Morgan, Rapinoe


Head To Head

England and USA have met three times before, with the results deviating noticeably from the holders' commanding record against almost all of their opponents.

England won 1-0 in the 2017 SheBelieves Cup thanks to an 89th minute goal from forward Ellen White, who has scored four times in their last three matches.

A calamitous own-goal by England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley gave the US a win by the same scoreline on their way to winning the cup the following year.

The sides shared a 2-2 draw as England won the trophy in the US earlier this year, Rapinoe scoring a memorable opener before Steph Houghton and Parris put England ahead, only for Tobin Heath to equalise.


Sports Mole Logo

We say: England 1-2 USA

If only for their exceptional run of results over the last two years, the US are deservedly strong favourites to overcome England and, you suspect, retain their title in typically swashbuckling style. England seem to be growing consistently stronger and undoubtedly have the ability and grit to challenge the beat team in the world. It will be tense, tough and too tight to call.


body check tags ::

Who will win Tuesday's Women's World Cup semi-final between England and USA?

England
USA
England
48.5%
USA
51.5%
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England Women manager Phil Neville pictured on June 23, 2019
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