At noon, the Tartan Terriers of Scotland will make their World Cup debut against Group D favorites England in OGC Nice’s home of the Allianz Riviera. Here’s a little bit about both teams and how they got to France.
Not only favorites for Group D, but England are also the favorites to win the entire tournament. The Lionesses come into the tournament ranked No. 3 by FIFA. In the last edition of the World Cup in 2015, England secured its best all-time finish, coming in third. Now, they look to surpass that.
Today, we start our @FIFAWWC.
Today, we need you behind us.#Lionesses pic.twitter.com/CwfEIydv9K
— Lionesses (@Lionesses) June 9, 2019
England is captained by 31-year-old Steph Houghton of Manchester City. Houghton has made 104 appearances for her country, scoring 12 goals from center back.
The Lionesses’ danger woman going forward is Fran Kirby. At just 25 years of age, the attacking midfielder has 38 caps and 12 goals on the international level. At the club level, however, she’s been quite a bit more prolific. For Reading, from 2012 to 2015, Kirby netted a whopping 68 goals in 42 games. For Chelsea, since 2015, she’s scored 32 in 50.
Manager – Phil Neville
One of the things that could limit the success of England at France 2019 is its largely inexperienced manager, Phil Neville. The former Manchester United man is acting in his first permanent managerial role since playing a part in the coaching staff at United after retirement.
If he manages a team anything like his brother Gary does, England could be going home earlier than expected.
Road to the WC
England’s road to France started in 2017, where they finished fourth in the Euros. In 2019, England won the SheBelieves Cup, defeating fellow Group D nation Japan 3-0, Brazil 2-1, and drawing against the USA 2-2.
In England’s qualifying campaign, the team went undefeated, finishing with a 7-1-0 record. England outscored their opposition 28-1, averaging 3.5 goals per game.
Despite how strong the Lionesses are, they still have some weaknesses heading into the Group D opener. In their last three friendly matches in 2019, the team has lined up in three different formations; 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3 and 4-1-4-1. While this could show that the team is versatile, it could also show that Neville is experimenting with the squad. To not have a set formation in the year of the World Cup would be a major problem for any team.
Despite this, the Lionesses should be fine. The squad has too much experience to crack under the pressure of the group stages.
Predicted finish: 1
Your #SWNT team starting our first ever #FIFAWWC match.
Come on Scotland!#OurGirlsOurGame #DareToShine pic.twitter.com/m3kA6o7lux
— Scotland National Team (@ScotlandNT) June 9, 2019
One of the underdogs for Group D, Scotland is making its first ever World Cup appearance today. The Tartan Terriers are ranked No. 20 by FIFA and managed by former Scotland international Shelley Kerr. She’s held the national team position since 2017. Before that, she was in charge of the Arsenal Ladies and Scotland U-19s.
We are Scotland, and we are here.#SWNT #OurGirlsOurGame pic.twitter.com/UXScVGuJvw
— Scotland National Team (@ScotlandNT) June 9, 2019
Scotland is captained by 29-year-old Rachel Corsie of the Utah Royals. The central defender has 104 caps and 16 goals for her country.
#OurGirlsOurGame | #DareToShine pic.twitter.com/vniqdR8pL7
— Aileen Larkin, FIFA (@FIFAWWC_SCO) June 9, 2019
The player to watch is undoubtedly Kim Little. The 28-year-old midfielder has scored 53 goals in 132 caps for Scotland. The main concern for her and her team is to ensure she avoids injury. She has a well-documented past of injury problems, even facing limited playing time in 2019 as a result.
For goals, Scotland will look to 20-year-old Erin Cuthbert. The Chelsea attacking midfielder has scored seven goals in 26 games for Scotland’s senior side and led the Terriers in qualifying with four goals.
Road to France
Scotland finished qualifying with a 7-0-1 record, with their one defeated coming at the hands of Switzerland, 1-0. While their final record implies one thing, their campaign could’ve gone very differently.
In three of their seven victories, Scotland had to come back to win from losing positions. The “Fighting Scottish’s” most impressive comeback was against Poland. The opposition led 2-0 up until the 78′. The Terriers managed to rally and score three goals before the end of the game to take all three points. The other two comebacks came against Belarus from 1-0 down.
Scotland also impressed at the 2019 Algarve Cup. They beat Iceland 4-1 and Denmark 1-0. Their one defeat came against Canada, but it was a respectable one, with the game finishing 1-0.
Funnily enough, Scotland’s strength could become its greatest weakness.
If Scotland wants to make it into the knockout stages, they need to avoid falling behind early on. While the Terriers were able to come back against Poland and Belarus, England and Japan are much better opponents and will not give up a lead as easily.
Scotland has the hardest start out of the Group D teams, facing England on Matchday 1 and Japan on Matchday 2.
If Scotland is able to scrape a point against England or Japan, I could easily see them finishing second, as they will likely beat Argentina.
Predicted finish: 2
Group D Schedule
- 6/9 – England vs. Scotland at noon
- 6/10 – Argentina vs. Japan at noon
- 6/14 – Japan vs. Scotland at 9 a.m.
- England vs. Argentina at 3 p.m.
- 6/19 Japan vs. England at 3 p.m.
- Argentina vs. Scotland at 3 p.m.
For more about the teams, visit fifa.com.