As England prepares for their fourth appearance in the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the expectations on the nation are high. In their previous three Women’s World Cup trips, they have not been able to get past the quarterfinal round when they were matched up against the elite of Women’s Football.
The Three Lionesses will have a chance for some revenge from the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup as they open up their 2015 campaign against France. France knocked out England four years ago when it looked as though England was about to break through to the semi-finals. Jill Scott’s 59th minute goal was cancelled out in the 88th minute by a goal from Elise Bussaglia. France would go on to win the match 4-3 on penalty kicks.
England breezed through World Cup qualifying gathering maximum points from all ten matches. They finished top of UEFA Group 6 with 30 points while outscoring their opponents 52 to 1. Their only allowed goal coming in Ukraine during their 2-1 win as Olha Ovdiychuk scored in the 63rd minute.
England returns 12 players from the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup squad including almost all of their defenders Alex Scott, Steph Houghton, Laura Bassett, and Casey Stoney. They also have two goalkeepers with WWC experience in Karen Bardsley and Siobhan Chamberlain. Fara Williams, Jill Scott, and Karen Carney return in the midfield while Eniola Aluko and Ellen White have experience up front.
The key match in the Group Stage for England is their opener against France. A nation that they have not beaten in Women’s Football since November 7th, 1974. France currently holds a 15 match unbeaten streak against their neighbors to the north while includes eight wins and seven draws.
Winning Group F is very important because the top team will square off in the quarterfinals against the runners-up from Group E, likely South Korea, Spain, or Costa Rica. The second place nation from Group F will play against the runners-up from Group B, either Germany or Norway. Both of those nations started out their World Cup with thrashings over their opponents. Norway beat Thailand 4-0 while Germany destroyed Ivory Coast 10-0.
This World Cup will likely be the last for the veterans on the team. Eight players are currently over the age of 30, conversely only six are under the age of 25. The next crop of England players will need to be found and integrated into the current system under head coach Mark Sampson if they want to be a power in Women’s Football for years to come.