STAR PREVIEW: Norway (Women) v England (Women)

England might be on the verge of going out of one World Cup but the market has more encouraging hopes for England’s women, who are favourites to reach another World Cup semi-final.

Phil Neville’s women have made solid progress through to this stage, winning all four of their games whilst conceding only one goal. Much of the recent attention on them has centred around what was an extremely uncontentious and ugly game against Cameroon at the weekend, but it’s important to remember that they were clearly superior.

They won the shots on target and corners count (along with having 68% possession) and were comfortably superior, even taking an incorrectly disallowed effort from Ajara Nchout into account. They won the expected goals count 1.6 to 0.5 and a 3-0 victory for them roughly reflects their superiority, which was clear when the 22 players were going head to head.

It’s understandable that they are favourites but beating Norway will be far more difficult. Whilst there was a 43 place gap between England and Cameroon, Norway were ranked 12th at the beginning of this World Cup and their only defeat so far has come against hosts France, in a narrow 2-1 defeat which pushed the hosts to the very limit.

They were taken to penalties by Australia but a closer look at the stats showed that they more than deserved to progress. They won the shots on target count 8-4 and the corners count 12-6 before putting together a far more composed penalty shootout. Whilst they are regrettably missing Ballon D’Or winner Ada Hegerberg, they boast plenty of quality out wide that can attack an England defence which has shown slight signs of weakness when tested.

The Norwegians will aim to get Guro Reitken and Karina Sævik involved whilst Caroline Grahaam Hansen will aim to find runs and free up space from the No 10 role, and these are all players that can give Phil Neville plenty to think about. Mille Bright’s likely absence means that Leah Williamson or Abbie McManus will step in but both can expect a test and Alex Greenwood.

Norway v England
FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019
Le Havre
Live on BBC1 HD & iPlayer, starts from 7:30 kick off 8:00 pm

England have been defensively solid so far but they’ve been better in attack and despite the absence of Steph Houghton thanks to a horror tackle, they have plenty to go to war with. Ellen White has four goals in this tournament and Neville can choose from Beth Mead, Nikita Parris, and Toni Duggan as attacking options to supplement his top scorer.

These two teams look to be very well matched, especially when it comes to quality going forward, and the 12/5 on them being level at 90 minutes appears to be a value option that should give one a run for their money.

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