WWC Quarter Final: England

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They started slow but now have the chance to progress to a semi-final for the first time in the nation’s history.

The story so far

After losing 1-0 to France in their opening fixture, a game where many felt Mark Sampson’s side paid their opponents too much respect, England easily claimed the scalps of Mexico and Colombia en route to a runners-up finish in Group F.

A come from behind win over Norway in the Round of 16 secured England’s spot in the quarter final against Canada.

They’ll beat Canada because…

The Norway win will have given them a massive boost. If England can continue the momentum built in the second half against Norway, Canada are in trouble. It was their best period of football all tournament and hopefully they will take this with them right from the off against Canada, in ways they haven’t prior in the tournament.

Canada tend to average only the one goal (in their last ten fixtures, they’ve won 1-0 six times, lost 1-0 twice, and drawn 0-0 and 1-1) so if England start brightly and make an impression on the scoresheet first, we could see the hosts struggle to play their way back into the game. England themselves enjoy an arm wrestle – their last three defeats have all been 1-0.

You feel we haven’t seen the best of England yet and whatever you think of Mark Sampson’s peculiar rotations and tactical switches, they have ultimately worked out so far.

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They’ll be knocked out by Canada because…

This game is likely to be a war of attrition won by the side with most X-factor. With this in mind, Christine Sinclair could be the sole difference between the two sides on the day.

England are still a side only capable of playing one half of football. We’ve struggled to see them maintain concentration for the full 90 minutes, dropping the intensity towards the end of the game which has consequentially led to slow first half starts.

They’ve struggled to assert themselves on games, tending to want to scrap it out, make things difficult for the opposition and then hope to wear the opposition down. If they hand Canada the initiative for too long in front of what’s sure to be a boisterous Vancouver crowd, England are going home.

Will they win the World Cup?

It’s improbable. England aren’t as good on a technical level as Germany or Japan and don’t have the athleticism and sheer power of the USA. The English FA have invested heavily in women’s football but the 2015 World Cup is a bit of a stretch for now.

Best moment of the tournament so far

Lucy Bronze’s spectacular winner against Norway that capped England’s finest attacking spell of the tournament and unlocked the gateway to a quarter final berth. An unlikely goal from an unlikely source.

Key player

If England are to beat the hosts and progress to the semi-final they need to find a way through one of the most organised and disciplined defences in world football. Despite Sampson’s tinkering Fran Kirby should get a start up front, either on the left side of a front three (less likely) or centrally.

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She’s a diminutive goal scorer who has been a real live-wire at the tournament so far. Kirby is a nightmare for defenders, always buzzing around the final third and creating openings for teammates. She holds the key for England.

Injuries / suspensions

Nil.

Prediction

There shouldn’t be many goals in this one. England probably come in as underdogs but they’ll be up for the fight.

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I wouldn’t be surprised to see it go to extra time considering how tight previous history has been between these two but Canada’s penchant for a 1-0 win is turning into somewhat of a phenomenon.

Canada 1-0.

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