England have made quite a historic run in the Women’s World Cup, but the Lionesses are not done yet.
England will take on the defending World Cup Champions, Japan, tonight in a match that will continue this stunning run. The English side has seen much improvement since group play, and hope to continue to grow as a team against Japan.
Japan has proved to be a strong squad, the only team in the tournament that has won every single game, and conceded just two goals along the way. But each victory was won by just one goal, despite usually dominating play.
In fact, England has never lost in three matches against Japan, including the group stage win against the Japanese in the 2011 World Cup.
But what will it take for the English side to reach the final against the United States?
England needs to capitalize on every chance they can create. The Lionesses have won five straight games 2-1, which shows consistency and the ability to score.
Individual match-ups will be absolutely key in the match, most especially Lucy Bronze against Aya Miyama. Although Bronze has proven to be a clutch goal-scorer in the knock-out rounds, she has stated that she is done with her offensive tactics and wants to focus on what she knows best: defence. Although her two goals against Norway and Canada have been more than impressive.
And the defence will have to be strong, because Japan has a very balanced attack. So balanced, in fact, that all seven of Japan’s goals have been scored by seven different players. That is what makes Japan so good, they don’t have one stand-out player, but together make a world-renowned team.
The game will also prove to be a clash of two very different styles of play, as the Japanese players have classified England’s playing as “weird”. Japan has the ability to out-pass England, as England has had inferior possession in three of the five games.
Mark Sampson is one to switch up playing styles and keep opponents guessing. He also revealed that the game will be a “contrast in styles”.
Ultimately, the game will be tight and very low-scoring. Look for it going 1-0 or into penalty kicks with England out on top, carrying their country to the first World Cup final since 1966.