England vs. Argentina: Lionesses face ‘historic’ clash at Women’s World Cup
Phil Neville says his squad must handle the ‘occasion and emotion’ in Le Havre
England vs. Argentina
- What: Fifa Women’s World Cup group D
- When: Friday 14 June
- Where: Stade Océane, Le Havre
- Kick-off time: 8pm (BST)
- TV channel: live on BBC One
After beating Scotland in their opening game of the Fifa Women’s World Cup England take on their other traditional footballing rival, Argentina, in a crucial group D clash on Friday evening.
Victory will see the Lionesses into the knockout stages of the tournament and head coach Phil Neville is confident that his side will be able to deal with the “emotion” of the occasion.
Argentina are not the same force in women’s football as they are in the men’s game and are ranked 37th in the world - yet they held Japan, who won the tournament in 2011 and were runners up in 2015, to a goalless draw in their opening fixture.
“There’s a great history between the countries,” said Neville ahead of the game in Le Havre.
“When we looked at this group you saw the rivalry with Scotland, and with Argentina what you’ve got in this case is a football history. Like the Scotland game, we have to handle the occasion and the emotion.”
What are England’s chances?
On paper Argentina should not pose a major problem for England, ranked third in the world, but this is tournament football.
Argentina sometimes play “abrasively physical football”, says Louise Taylor in The Guardian. But their “gritty gameplan must be viewed in its proper context”.
Taylor adds: “After receiving negligible backing, both financial and logistical, from their country’s football authorities it seems a small miracle the desperately under-resourced South American squad ranked 37th in the world are here at all.”
Neville is not underestimating them either. “I’ve told the players this is a proud nation, a big powerful football nation,” he says. “You are playing against history. When you talk about street football you’re talking about South American players who have grown up with nothing. This is what this Argentine team is.”
Jason Burt of The Daily Telegraph agrees. “The relevance of that to the side who take to the field here is to remind them of how fiercely Argentina - with schoolchildren again given time to watch the game - will fight and that was evidenced in the way they celebrated their point against Japan, the first they have gained in a World Cup.”
However, Sam Lovett of the Independent believes England will have too much for their opponents.
“Neville’s women will be under no illusions that they’ll have a fight on their hands in Le Havre on Friday night. Patience and persistence will be key,” he says.
“Having said that, they demonstrated their experience and maturity in keeping Scotland at bay after their late goal on Sunday.”
Toni Duggan, who sat out the Scotland game with a thigh injury, will miss out again. But the rest of the squad, including Fran Kirby, Millie Bright and Demi Stokes, are fit.
“Sunday’s contest against the Scots had seen Kirby take a kick to the knee and Bright forced off by a shoulder injury, while Stokes has been recovering from a knee problem,” reports The Daily Telegraph.
Midfielder Jade Moore is being tipped to start in midfield, where her passing could help unlock the stubborn Argentine defence.
The England backline will have to be alert to the threat posed by Argentina star Estefanía Banini, known unsurprisingly as the “female Messi” in her home country.
This week’s Fifa Women’s World Cup fixtures
BBC Sport will show coverage of all World Cup matches:
- Friday 14 June: Japan vs. Scotland (2pm, BBC One and BBC ALBA); Jamaica vs. Italy (5pm, BBC red button and online); England vs. Argentina (8pm, BBC One)
- Saturday 15 June: Netherlands vs. Cameroon (2pm, BBC One); Canada vs. New Zealand (8pm, BBC red button and online)
- Sunday 16 June: Sweden vs. Thailand (2pm, BBC red button and online); USA vs. Chile (5pm, BBC Two)
- Monday 17 June: China vs. Spain (5pm, BBC online); South Africa vs Germany (5pm, BBC red button and online); Nigeria vs. France (8pm, BBC Four); South Korea vs. Norway (8pm, BBC red button and online)
- Tuesday 18 June: Jamaica vs. Australia (8pm, BBC red button and online); Italy vs. Brazil (8pm, BBC Four)
- Wednesday 19 June: Japan vs. England (8pm, BBC One); Scotland vs. Argentina (8pm, BBC Four and BBC ALBA)
- Thursday 20 June: Cameroon vs. New Zealand (5pm, BBC red button and online); Netherlands vs. Canada (5pm, BBC online); Sweden vs. USA (8pm, BBC Four); Thailand vs. Chile (8pm, BBC red button and online)
- See the full fixture list at fifa.com