We all remember the highs and lows of England’s World Cup run last summer.
The jubilation when Everton’s Jordan Pickford palmed away Carlos Bacca’s penalty in the Round of 16. The overriding joy when Leicester’s Unicorn Riding centre-back Harry Maguire headed home against Sweden. The outpour of emotion throughout the country when Kieran Tripper’s free-kick nestled into the back of the net against Croatia. And yes, the heartbreak when Gareth Southgate’s band of merry men crashed out in extra-time.
Well, are you ready to do it all over again?
England’s preparations for the 2019 Women’s World Cup are well underway, with Phil Neville’s side coming away from the 2019 She Believes Cup with the silverware, winning two and drawing one of their three games.
The Three Lionesses kicked off the 2019 She Believes Cup, a tournament in its fourth year, against Brazil. Marta, the Six-time Fifa World Player of The Year, rolled back the years as she charged down the left-wing towards goal. Lucy Bronze put in a superb challenge, bringing the Brazilian down in the process. The referee astonishingly awarded a penalty, which was duly dispatched by Andressa Alvez, hardly the best imaginable start for the 2015 World Cup’s third-place team. An exquisite finish from Ellen White was followed up by Beth Mead’s thunderbolt in the 75th minute, securing the Lionesses their first victory of the tournament.
Next up were the USA, the host nation, the World Champions, a formidable task stood in front of the England side. Karen Bardsley was equal to Carli Lloyd’s early attempt but could do nothing about Megan Rapinoe’s screamer which put the World Champions ahead. The lead lasted just three minutes, though, with England’s captain Steph Houghton bending an indirect free-kick into the bottom right corner. England got off to a flying start in the second half, Fran Kirby’s majestic pass setting up Nikita Parris. The US eventually forced home their equaliser, with England throwing bodies on the line to try and protect their lead. The Lionesses could have easily come away with all three points, an extremely positive sign for Phil Neville’s side, as they look to knock the US off the podium in the summer.
England secured the She Believes Cup with a business-like win against Japan, with goals from Lucy Staniforth, Karen Carney and Beth Mead, giving the Lionesses a 3-0 lead by the half-hour mark. Kiera Walsh’s pass of the tournament to set up the third and final goal has already been doing the rounds on social media, and for good reason.
If you’re more excited about England’s hopes in the 2019 World Cup following the She Believes Cup, then you’ve got a good reason to be. The Three Lionesses showed quality, determination and strength throughout the tournament, making eight changes for the game against Japan.
The women’s game is growing in England and the national side continues to improve, as the Lionesses look to build on their heartbreaking semi-final loss in Canada four years ago. If ever there was a squad that deserved the support of the nation, just as the men received in 2018, it would be this one. If ever there was a time to replicate the national spirit conjured up by Gareth Southgate’s men in Russia last summer, it would be now.
The Three Lionesses are set to host Canada, Spain, Denmark and New Zealand in friendlies before jetting off to France for their World Cup campaign. If you’d like support the team, tickets are still available.
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