Wow. Recovered yet? A tremendous match saw England draw 2-2 with the USA in Nashville, in the second of their 2019 SheBelieves Cup fixtures and everyone in the Lionesses camp was buzzing after the game – disappointed not to have snatched the win, perhaps – knowing they had been a in a real tussle with arguably the best team in the world.
Here’s some of coach PHIL NEVILLE’s thoughts straight after the match (we’re a little later with this – travel etc – but it’s great to have a reference to come back and read these things in months and maybe years to come):
On the game itself:
Forget the result, I think that was an unbelievable advert for women’s football. It felt like a top, top game. The messages I’ve been getting already suggest that it was a top quality game and I said to Jill Ellis at the end that she should be proud – two teams going two-to-toe and wanting to win and that’s how football should be played. I think both coaches would admit that the result in the end wasn’t the most important thing, we’ve just put an advert on for women’s football, which is probably as good as I’ve seen.
How the game was a ‘chess match’ in the first half and a ‘boxing match’ in the second:
I thought the first half was cagey from both teams. I didn’t think they really came out of the blocks, there was a lot of respect between both teams and it wasn’t until they scored that we upped the intensity a little bit in our passing. Then we scored and both teams got to half time and then in the second half the gloves were off. It felt like a boxing match. It was one hundred miles an hour. They would attack, you think they’re going to score, then we would attack and I thought we would score two or three. It was a fantastic second half but I think the first half set up the second because they found it difficult with our system but I was disappointed with some of our passing and they caused us some problems with diagonals in second phase attack. So, it was a chess match first half and a boxing match second half.
At the end any team could have won and my players are slightly disappointed that we didn’t.
On being brave & the central midfielders:
Today was more about the quality and the bravery to play football. Our two central midfield players were unbelievable. Lucy Bronze is the best player in the world. You can write that down because she is. But Keira Walsh is now getting up to that level where she is world class and believing it. She takes the ball, she passes the ball, she’s athletic and she’s beginning to play with a smile on her face and a real energy.
My two central midfield players were probably the bravest players on the pitch in terms of having to take the ball, under the most pressure. Then throw in the style of football that we want to play, it means that we have a good system. Do we continue with Lucy Bronze in midfield when we have so many quality midfield players? There will be games when we do and there will be games when we don’t because she’s equally as good at right back.