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England v Argentina: Lionesses to roar into the next round

England v Argentina: Lionesses to roar into the next round

England v Argentina
Friday June 14, 20.00
BBC One

Argentina will pack their defence

A general theme of the opening round of matches at the World Cup has been the defensive proficiency of the so-called lesser lights. Ordinarily, a tournament such as this would produce a few severe scorelines in the group stages. However, the lower ranked teams have demonstrated superior defensive organisation and fitness compared to previous years.

No team illustrated this more impressively than Argentina as they comfortably kept Japan at bay on match day one. Argentina were organised, disciplined and calm in their defensive efforts and maintained their threat on the counter.

Estefanía Banini was excellent at taking pressure off the Argentina defence with her close control. Reviewing this game will give Phil Neville pause for thought because England often struggle to break down stubborn opposition.

Lionesses need to find a final ball

This is largely because the Lionesses lack an enterprising forward passer in midfield, especially with Jordan Nobbs injured. Keira Walsh moves the ball well from deep and if Millie Bright is injured, then Neville should seriously consider bringing Arsenal’s Leah Williamson into the team, she is the best passing centre-half in the country.

But England struggle for a final ball further forward. Fran Kirby played in the number 10 role against Scotland and showed signs of rustiness after a stop-start season with injury. Ellen White is unlikely to lose her place to Jodie Taylor upfront and Nikita Parris linked up excellently with Lucy Bronze on the right during the first half of the Scotland game.

Stretching the Argentina defence and moving them around will be crucial, so I think Parris will keep her place on the right. With Toni Duggan‘s fitness still in doubt, I also think Beth Mead will retain her place as a left sided forward. I do think Neville might take Kirby out of the firing line and reintroduce the experienced Karen Carney into the number 10 role. Neville will want England to retain the intensity they demonstrated in the first half against Scotland and none of the sloppiness that plagued their second half display.

England need to stay calm

England might need to be patient if Argentina can repeat their defensive performance from the Japan game. But the Japan game was an outlier for Carlos Borrello‘s team, who have lost 3-0 to Australia, 2-0 to New Zealand and 5-0 to Korea Republic in 2019. Japan were also very pedestrian in their attacks and I think with Parris and Mead moving either side of White, England shouldn’t have the same issue.

There is still the sense that the Lionesses have not quite clicked under Neville’s guidance yet and while they do tend to suffer against packed defences, I still expect them to beat Argentina with room to spare. Argentina are priced at 33/1 to win this game for good reason. The draw no bet England (W) is 1-500, which tells you that you have to shop a little to find value in the market!

Neville’s England to win well

I am not convinced England will win by more than three goals, so England to win and under 3.5 goals at Evens has potential. The handicap market offers better value too with England (-2) at 5/6. However, if you are feeling daring and fancy Argentina to frustrate the Lionesses as they did with Japan, then no goals at 25/1 might be worth a pound.

Argentina are not entirely without attacking threat on the counter, so if you fancy an upset that doesn’t arrive in the shape of a 0-0 draw, then England winning at half-time and a draw at full-time is worth a look at 33/1. The Lionesses know a win guarantees progression to the knockout rounds and I expect them to get the job done, even if they still look a little disjointed at times. England to win 2-0, 2-1 or 3-1 has been odds boosted from 13/8 to 9/4 and I am very tempted by that.

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