Norway vs England Preview

Norway vs England Preview: Lionesses should win open game

Amid all of the controversy in the aftermath of the Cameroon clash, it should be remembered how impressive England were at times in that victory. Phil Neville’s Lionesses have reached the quarter finals of their fourth-straight World Cup after winning 3-0, and though their opponents quite clearly lost their heads, England deserve credit as they prepare to face Norway.

They started with real purpose, doing exactly what they have been for much of the tournament so far by overloading the flanks and creating space in the middle of midfield. Once again, that allowed Fran Kirby and Jill Scott the space to supply Ellen White up front, though it was a surprisingly quiet game for Nikita Parris and Toni Duggan, who started the day out wide.

But Neville will be aware of the consistent issue facing his side; their inability to keep intensity up as games go on. On this occasion, their early goal, a free-kick inside the box scored by captain Steph Houghton, probably made them too comfortable, and they will get caught out by better teams if they do not improve quickly.

Will Norway be that team? Only time will tell, but even though they don’t have the individual quality of England, France or the USA, their main strengths lie in an area of the pitch that will really open England up to danger. Read More

Norway vs Australia

Norway vs Australia Preview: Will Sam Kerr prove the difference?

When Ada Hegerberg announced she wouldn’t be taking to the biggest stage in women’s football this summer, Norway’s slim chances of success in France took a huge and potentially fatal hit. Winner of the first Women’s Ballon d’Or last year, the Lyon striker scored a hat-trick in the Champions League final against Barcelona, and her country was expected to really struggle without her. So far, so good, though, as they prepare for a clash with Australia in the last 16.

Both of these sides have won two of three games at the World Cup so far. Norway beat Nigeria and South Korea, but lost narrowly to France, while Australia bounced back from an opening game defeat to Italy with six points, and seven goals scored, against Brazil and Jamaica. The different styles of these sides have been evident throughout the tournament; though Norway put a rather poor Nigeria side to the sword, winning 3-0, both their other games were tight and decided by the odd goal in three. Read More

England vs Argentina

England vs Argentina Preview: Can The Lionesses Hit Their Stride?

It wasn’t perfect, but England’s performance against Scotland saw them over the line in the end. Phil Neville’s side have never been a afforded a better chance to win a World Cup, with a squad packed with experience and quality likely to threaten any opponent.

They showed as much in the first half in Nice, leading 2-0 by the break thanks to goals from Nikita Parris and Ellen White; but an opportunity missed by Scotland’s Erin Cuthbert just before half time and a disallowed strike by Beth Mead 30 seconds after galvanised Shelley Kerr and her team.

As the Lionesses tired and became sloppy, Scotland grew in confidence, halving the deficit late on and going close to grabbing a draw. England head into Friday’s clash with Argentina expected to win comfortably once again, but they certainly must improve in some areas if they are to dominate the game in the way that they should. Read More

France vs Korea Republic

France vs Korea Republic Preview: Can the hosts get off to a good start?

France, this year’s World Cup hosts, will be gunning for victory on home soil this summer, and they are definitely among the favourites to go all the way. In fact, they may never get a better chance; fresh from club success in the Champions League with Lyon this season, Les Bleus will be a threat to the likes of the United States, who are overall favourites, Germany, and Phil Neville’s England. Their journey towards their first title starts at the Parc Des Princes on Friday, against Korea Republic.

Like all good international sides, they are built around the most successful in their domestic league. Lyon have won the last five league titles and four Champions Leagues, having been crowned queens of Europe six times in all.

France boss Corinne Diacre has a very talented squad at her disposal, with a great blend of youth and experience. The likes of Amandine Henry, a 29-year-old driving midfielder and captain of the side, and her Lyon clubmate Eugenie Le Sommer will lead from the front alongside Paris FC’s Gaetane Thiney, who is likely to surpass 160 international caps this summer. The likes of 22-year-old Lyon striker Delphine Cascarino and PSG midfielder Grace Geyoro, 21, will also be looking to impress. Read More

Tottenham vs Newcastle premier League preview

Tottenham vs Newcastle Preview: Can Magpies make Spurs’ injuries pay?

A day is a long time at Newcastle United. On Tuesday morning, ahead of their clash with Premier League champions Manchester City, Tyneside’s collective mood was as grey as the skies overhead. But the news that Atlanta United’s Miguel Almiron was en route for a medical ahead of a potential club-record transfer lifted it before kick off.

Salomon Rondon and Matt Ritchie then turned the game on its head in the second half after Sergio Aguero gave City the lead just 25 seconds in. Suddenly, the Magpies head to Wembley to face Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday with great confidence, especially considering Spurs’ growing injury list. As they close on another transfer window with no signings, at the time of writing, Mauricio Pochettino’s men will again be without top scorer Harry Kane and Dele Alli at the weekend.

Neither Spurs’ absentees nor Newcastle’s recent win should change the fact that a home win is most likely in this one. All of the pressure will be on the Champions League chasers, though, which will suit Rafael Benitez perfectly. As he so often does against the bigger sides, the Newcastle boss will set up to sit deep and look to frustrate, before looking for Rondon to bully the defence up front. Read More

Chelsea vs Newcastle

Chelsea vs Newcastle Preview: Can depleted Magpies’ shock the Blues?

Newcastle United fans are used to managing expectations, but their manager, Rafael Benitez certainly isn’t. Not to this level, anyway. It should never be underestimated how surprising it is to see a Champions League-winning manager, somebody who has worked with some of the best players and clubs in the world, battling on even though he knows avoiding relegation is probably the best he can achieve this season.

Sitting just two points above the drop zone with injuries piling up, Newcastle travel to Chelsea on Saturday evening. Benitez can only look on in envy at the squad his opposite number, Maurizio Sarri, has at his disposal, but he continues to get on with his job.

The Spaniard has a self-imposed embargo on his head when it comes to discussing transfers, so most fans are being left in the dark. The inference, though, is that nothing is close to happening, and judging by the previous actions of Newcastle owner Mike Ashley, that does seem about right.

The Magpies are particularly short on central midfielders for the game at Stamford Bridge; given that most games at the top level hinge on the battle in the centre of the park, that is particularly bad news. Read More

Liverpool vs Newcastle

Liverpool vs Newcastle Preview: Can Rafa spoil the Reds’ festivities?

On November 3rd, when Newcastle United hosted Watford, the situation for Rafael Benitez’s men could hardly have been more precarious. Had they lost at St James’ Park that day, it would have been the first time the Magpies had ever failed to win in their first eleven Premier League games. Victory kick-started their season, and they haven’t looked back since.

Fast forward to Boxing Day, and Newcastle head to Premier League leaders Liverpool in a very favourable position. Avoiding relegation is still the primary target, but 14 points from their last eight games have eased their fears. Benitez is incredibly popular with both sets of fans after six successful years at Anfield, but he will be focussed completely on getting a result and nothing else. Key to the visitors’ chances, in more ways than one, is striker Salomon Rondon. Read More