Despite the disappointment of Tuesday’s defeat, England’s World Cup preparations remain on track. The Lionesses have now faced seven of the world’s top 10 sides in the past 14 months and have come out with four trophies. While the loss to Australia may have been an untimely one, it is unlikely to derail England’s World Cup ambitions. The Lionesses will now look to use the defeat as a learning experience, as they look to find the next level in their game and break down teams who employ a defensive approach. With a wealth of talent still available to them, England will be confident of making a strong impression at this summer’s tournament.
England’s World Cup preparations took a hit on Tuesday as they suffered a 2-0 defeat to Australia, ending their 30-game unbeaten run. Despite the disappointment of the result, it is unlikely to derail their ambitions for the tournament this summer. The Lionesses have won four trophies in the past 14 months, having faced seven of the world’s top 10 sides in that time, and will now use the defeat as a learning experience.
The blueprint for success was clear for Australia – frustrate England out of possession then hit them on the counter-attack, feeding superstar striker Sam Kerr at the earliest opportunity – and it worked perfectly. Despite having 71% of possession, England were limited to four shots on target as their usually fluid attacking play lacked rhythm and impetus. Former England midfielder Karen Carney said: “Teams have a blueprint as to how to play against us now, how to stop us. But I think the only way we’re going to be beaten is by beating ourselves.”
England were missing key defenders Millie Bright and Alex Greenwood, while winger Lauren Hemp had to come off after half an hour due to injury. With Ballon d’Or runner-up Beth Mead and Chelsea midfielder Fran Kirby also out with long-term injuries, England’s options were sparse off the bench. Former England defender Gilly Flaherty said: “Teams are going to show England respect now. They are going to sit in blocks and are going to make it hard. England now need to find that next level, to know how to break down teams when they use this approach.”
Lionesses head coach Sarina Wiegman said her side were “lacking energy” and admitted they still need to improve when forced to break teams down. Chelsea manager Emma Hayes added: “This is uncharacteristic of England. Rarely do we see them looking so sluggish as a team. We’re used to them creating so many chances.”
Former striker Eni Aluko said the result “does not derail” England but will “strengthen them” in their preparation for this summer’s tournament. She said: “They will know you can’t go into a World Cup cruising. It should strengthen them. It should make them feel a bit human and humble them a bit.”
England will now look to use the defeat as a learning experience, as they look to find the next level in their game and break down teams who employ a defensive approach. With a wealth of talent still available to them, England will be confident of making a strong impression at this summer’s tournament. Despite the loss to Australia, England’s World Cup preparations remain on track and they will be determined to make amends for this untimely defeat.