England hosted Portugal at Stadium MK on Saturday 1 July, though the Lionesses were forced to settle for a goalless draw in front of more than 26,000 supporters.
While that’s far from the result Sarina Wiegman would have been hoping for ahead of kickoff, there are plenty of positives to take from the final friendly on English soil ahead of the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Lucy Bronze x Lauren James
Arguably the highlight of the match was the excellent linkup play between Lucy Bronze and Lauren James on the right flank. It’d be fair to say that neither player has had an exceptional individual season despite lifting multiple trophies with their respective clubs, but the duo looked to have a great understanding and chemistry during this match.
Sarina Wiegman will sleep soundly in the knowledge that at the very least, she can rely on the right side of the pitch to provide attacking output. However, the Dutchwoman will be aware that attacking output and attractive linkup play means nothing if you can’t convert it into goals – so there’s still plenty of work to be done.
Katie Robinson is a diamond
Katie Robinson was limited to a brief cameo in the final ten minutes at Stadium MK – but she certainly took the opportunity to shine and put herself in contention for a spot in the starting eleven.
Throughout her brief appearance, Robinson established herself as the driving force of England’s attack. Despite replacing Lauren Hemp on the left flank, the Brighton starlet displayed a tendency to drift centrally and aid the transition between midfield and the forward line.
Rachel Daly has to feature as a striker
Wiegman entrusted Rachel Daly as her starting number nine against Portugal, and while the Aston Villa failed to find the back of the net, she demonstrated the crucial traits necessary to become England’s first-choice striker.
Her spectacular attempt at a bicycle kick will undoubtedly remain as one of the more memorable moments of an otherwise dull match, but her off-the-ball movement and ability to create space was impressive. Having played the entirety of last summer’s EUROs as a left-back, surely her performance against Portugal will have brought an end to any discourse about a potential return to defence.
Find the finishing boots
England’s downfall against Portugal was their inability to take advantage of opportunities. The Lionesses managed 23 shots – eight of which were on target. Add that to thirteen corners, and you’ll begin to understand that Sarina Wiegman’s side certainly didn’t lack chances; they seemingly lacked the confidence to fire them home.
Still time to fine-tune
The most concerning thing for me wasn’t the lack of ruthlessness in front of goal – it was the fact that England looked as if they’d never played together before. The first half in particular was woeful, and team chemistry is a must-have when heading into a major tournament.
Thankfully, Sarina Wiegman has time to iron out these issues. England’s first group stage game at the FIFA Women’s World Cup will be played on July 21 – giving the boss just under three weeks to find her side’s form once more. The Lionesses will play one final friendly before the tournament gets underway though, as they face Canada behind closed doors.
FromTheSpot will be bringing you coverage of every game throughout the FIFA Women’s World Cup, including previews and detailed reports. We’ll cover games in the buildup to the tournament too, so you can get a feel for the potential favourites ahead of action getting underway in Australia and New Zealand.