It was so close yet so far for England on Tuesday night, when once again, they couldn’t break their way into a major tournament final. That makes it three semi-final losses in a row (World Cup, Euros, World Cup).
It was somewhat of a nightmare start, with the USA completely dominant for the first ten minutes, and as a result of their early efforts, Christen Press put them ahead.
However, nine minutes later, Ellen White equalised. It was somewhat against the run of play, as the Lionesses were overrun on the pitch, but still managed to score a stormer of a goal.
As I said though, they were overrun and because of this the USA had four shots on target. I don’t need to tell you how clinical that team is with four chances on goal. Queue Alex Morgan.
Not even 12 minutes later, Morgan took her chance to put America ahead and to also rub salt into our wounds with a tea-sipping celebration.
For the second half, it was all England. Phil Neville reverted his usual 4-3-3 formation (why he changed it to a 4-4-2 formation which isolated Nikita Parris, I do not know) and brought Fran Kirby on, and you could see the difference. They stopped the USA from having a shot on target.
Then the breakthrough was supposed to come.
A penalty was given at 84 minutes. A chance to equalise, maybe force a winner thereafter or at least to keep going for an extra half hour. After Parris’ two missed penalties earlier in the competition, Steph Houghton, captain and leader, stepped up to take it. I wouldn’t describe as the weakest spot kick I’ve seen, but it was too slow and not in a position to trouble a decent keeper like Alyssa Naeher.
Not long after Millie Bright vented her frustration and picked up a second booking. She’ll be missing this one.
Anything less than a win will throw up questions and finishing worse than the same position four years ago is unthinkable as this is the best England women’s team we’ve seen. Could that pressure make the crumble even further?
Well, England are 4/6 to win but the market has underrated this Sweden team so far, they beat short odds-on favourites Germany 2-1 to progress into the semi-final against the Netherlands. And they pushed the latter too.
There’s not much to tell you about Sweden’s match with the Netherlands, it was defensively fought throughout the 90 minutes. As Gabby Logan stated, “Even the football purists would have struggled watching.” There were only six shots on target throughout the whole match, no surprise it ended 0-0. Extra-time it was.
Jackie Groenen was the only highlight of the added 30 minutes, netting a goal nine minutes in. Game over.
They pierced the Swedish defence, and they couldn’t get back into it.
Based on that match, the Swedes are deservedly underdogs – especially if they’re without Kosovare Asllani who picked up a knock. She’s been one of their driving forces and if she doesn’t play, I can’t see Sweden penetrating.
Best Bet: England to win to nil – 17/10
With both teams reeling from their semi-final defeats, even though they should be going for the bronze medal, I can’t see it being the most spectacular event mainly because of Sweden’s defence.
Four out of their six games have been Under 2.5 goals and one of the ones that went over 2.5 was against Thailand. Go figure. Back the unders.
Best Bet: Under 2.5 Goals – 10/11
Finally, Neville will most likely change the squad (shock), but I would like to think he starts Ellen White, so she can at least try to get her head in front for the Golden Boot. It’d be a golden lining on a campaign that was just so close.
Best Bet: Ellen White to score anytime – 7/5
* All prices correct at time of posting.