USWNT vs England Preview: United states out for revenge
Photo by Bernie Walls via VAVEL Images

Old feuds will surface again as the Lionesses and the USWNT meet for the first time since that fateful day in July 2019.

The USWNT have replaced their manager since that semi-final, but their red-hot form has been carried into the new era. Being hosts and in good form, they surely go into the SheBelieves Cup as favourites.

As for the Lionesses, there have been muted calls for a change in leadership there and they take a depleted and youthful squad to the tournament.

Under pressure

Phil Neville has been feeling the heat ever since England's World Cup exit, so getting one over his rivals will surely get some of the critics off his back. England have won just two of their six games since the World Cup, beating Portugal and the Czech Republic. Defeats to Brazil, Germany and Norway have done little to ease the pressure on Neville's shoulders. It's an opportunity for the Lionesses to shake off the hangover from the World Cup, but they couldn't have asked for a more difficult opponent to do that against.

The USWNT are world champions and have just won their CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament. They have won every single one of their five matches since the World Cup and haven't failed to win at a tournament since their 2-2 draw with the Lionesses in the group stages of the World Cup. 

Two youthful squads

Team news isn't in the Lionesses favour. Forward Beth Mead had already been forced to sit the tournament out through injury, but the absence of star player Lucy Bronze is a massive hit for the Lionesses. Uncapped forward Alessia Russo has taken Bronze's place in the squad and defender Anna Patten has been called up to train with the senior squad. Thankfully, striker Beth England is bang in form following her brace for Chelsea in the Conti Cup final on Saturday.

As for the USA, forward Alex Morgan is out due to her pregnancy but forward Mallory Pugh and defender Tierna Davidson return after their absence from the Olympic qualifying squad. Forward Lynn Williams, defender Casey Short and midfielder Andi Sullivan also come into the American squad. Midfielder Jordi DiBiasi, forward Margaret Purce and goalkeeper Jane Campbell have been included as backups in the USWNT squad.

Shaping up

England's lineup is difficult to predict. With Bronze out injured, Rachel Daly will presumably be her replacement while Toni Duggan will replace Mead. However, it's elsewhere that throws up issues. Neville has been experimenting with his formation in the friendlies leading up to SheBelieves and could leave his 4-3-3 behind. Previous games have seen Neville deploy 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 formations, though he did return to his preferred system for the defeat to Germany. With his belief in his usual style seemingly fading and injuries hitting his squad, predicting his starting XI is somewhat futile.

The USA have so far stuck with Jill Ellis' 4-3-3 system since her departure. The only major absentee is Morgan, who was replaced by Lynn Williams in Olympic qualifying. Julie Ertz is also one cap of a century of USWNT appearances so will surely play some part.

Same play, different actors

It is the first time Neville will go up against Vlatko Andonovski after Andonovski replaced Ellis in October 2019. The Macedonian will want to prove he is capable of succeeding the two-time World Cup winning coach by achieving success in this tournament.

Ellen White will also have a score to settle with the USWNT after her second goal was chalked off by VAR in that World Cup Semi, as would Milly Bright who was sent off in that game.

Talking heads

Phil Neville is desperate to retain England's SheBelieves crown, telling the BBC back in February that "England have to win the SheBelieves Cup again". Following England's poor showing since their World Cup exit, England fans will surely be expecting a reaction and success in this tournament.

Despite his side having a formidable record since his arrival, Andonovski is seemingly unhappy with his squad's performance. He told the Houston Chronicle that his strikers "need to be more clinical in the box" following America's 3-0 win over Canada in Olympic qualifying. 

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