Three days after a poor performance saw England Women slump to a disappointing defeat at the hands of Brazil in front of a 29,238 crowd in Middlesbrough, the Lionesses are back in action to face Portugal in what has now become an important friendly.
The Brazil defeat, a first at home for England game since the summer’s World Cup, left a sour taste in the mouth as it extended the team’s ongoing win-less streak to five games.
Serious questions are being asked by supporters in light of the sudden and alarming slump, while failure to beat Portugal will bring more pressure on manager Phil Neville.
Where to Watch
|When Is Kick Off?||Tuesday 8 October|
|What Time Is Kick Off?||19.00 (BST)|
|Where Is It Played?||Estadio do Bonfim, Setubal|
|TV Channel/Livestream?||BBC Four/BBC iPlayer|
Experienced star Jill Scott is the latest England player to withdraw from the squad as a result of injury - Lucy Bronze could potentially deputise in midfield. Fran Kirby, Millie Bright, Demi Stokes and Abbie McManus had already dropped out prior to the Brazil game on Saturday.
It means there are opportunities for others, like Liverpool’s Melissa Lawley and Manchester City’s uncapped Aoife Mannion, to stake their claim for places moving forward.
Everton’s Choe Kelly (one cap) and Manchester City’s Lauren Hemp (uncapped), have also been called into the squad to add depth for this one.
England (4-2-3-1): Telford; Daly, Williamson, Mannion, Greenwood; Bronze, Walsh; Lawley, Staniforth, Mead; England
Head to Head Record
Currently ranked outside the world’s top 30, Portugal are not a strong international side and have only qualified for one major international tournament – Euro 2017, two years ago.
The group stage of that competition was the last time England met Portugal. The Lionesses won 2-1 after goals from Toni Duggan and Nikita Parris. Yet while the Portuguese did go home early after finishing bottom, they did at least get a surprise win over Scotland.
Prior to 2017, England hadn’t faced Portugal since 2005 when Lionesses legend Rachel Yankey and current Manchester United manager Casey Stoney scored in a 4-0 Algarve Cup win.
This century, England are yet to lose against Portugal, winning four times and drawing twice.
England haven’t won a game since beating Norway in the World Cup quarter-finals at the end of June and have lost four out of the five since – only a fortunate late equaliser from the penalty spot in a friendly against Belgium in August ensured it hasn’t been five losses in a row.
Certainly, in the three games since the World Cup, England’s performances have been characterised by sloppiness and avoidable mistakes, taking away from the world-class quality that does also exist in the squad.
Portugal have twice been comfortably beaten by the United States in a post-World Cup victory tour in recent weeks. But they have picked up wins against weaker European sides this year.
|Albania 0-1 Portugal (4 Oct)||England 1-2 Brazil (5 Oct)|
|USA 3-0 Portugal (4 Sept)||Norway 2-1 England (3 Sept)|
|USA 4-0 Portugal (30 Aug)||Belgium 3-3 England (29 Aug)|
|Portugal 4-0 Hungary (9 Apr)||England 1-2 Sweden (6 Jul)|
|Portugal 2-1 Hungary (6 Apr)||England 1-2 USA (3 Jul)|
On paper, this should be a non-contest. But the way England have been playing and the injuries that have affected the squad at least bring an element of doubt, however small.
Even without several key players and others being rotated, England have the quality to win this game hands down. It is difficult to envisage a clean sheet when Neville insists his team must pass out from the back – the root cause of many problems – nor has he addressed an inability to defend set-pieces, but the Lionesses should at least score goals.
That alone could be enough for a long overdue and much-needed win.
Portugal 1-3 England