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Lucy Bronze: England have more hunger than USA to reach World Cup final | UK News



England face the ultimate test in women’s football inside the Stade de Lyon – a meeting with reigning World Cup champions USA in the semi-final.

Victory would make them the first England team since 1966 to reach the final of a World Cup.

Beyond that, it would be transformative to the profile of the game in England, capitalising on the unprecedented interest the tournament has already generated.

England's coach Phil Neville attends the France 2019 Women's World Cup quarter-final football match between Norway and England, on June 27, 2019, at the Oceane stadium in Le Havre, north western France. (Photo by Damien MEYER / AFP)        (Photo credit should read DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/Getty Images)
England coach Phil Neville has hailed Lucy Bronze as the best player in the world

Defender Lucy Bronze, whom coach Phil Neville has hailed as the best player in the world, has experienced the heartbreak of a semi-final loss in Canada in 2015. She believes it has made the team more motivated.

“We’re short of that last step,” she said. “I think we have more hunger than all the other teams because we’ve never reached a final and you look now – [of] the four teams left [England, USA, Netherlands and Sweden], we’re the only one that hasn’t reached a final.

“The Olympics, the World Cup, the Euros – these other three teams have reached finals in recent years.”

Lucy Bronze of England reacts during the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France Quarter Final match between Norway and England at Stade Oceane on June 27, 2019 in Le Havre, France
Lucy Bronze says England have what it takes to beat USA

But the US are a formidable opponent, having lost just once in their last 43 matches and that was a friendly game against France in January.

Their most successful players, captain Megan Rapinoe and striker Alex Morgan, are household names, with trophies and career achievements far outstripping their male counterparts.

As Bronze pointed out, they have a profile and a platform far larger than any of the English women.

But there are signs the rest of the world is catching up. Bronze addressed the world’s media at a press conference at a central Lyon hotel which was so well attended journalists sat on the floor to hear her speak.

United States midfielder Sam Mewis celebrates with forward Megan Rapinoe after scoring against Thailand
USA midfielder Sam Mewis celebrates with forward Megan Rapinoe after scoring against Thailand

The 27-year-old, who was kicked out of her all-boys team as a child despite being their best player, painted a picture of an England squad unfazed by the supreme confidence of the Americans.

“This is going to be our third semi-final,” she said. “We play on a regular basis against the US, France and Germany. We match them in every game we play.

“They are always tight. But we know that it can be done and I think that is going to be the difference for us this year. Maybe we are most destined to win”.

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Baroness Campbell, the head of women’s football at the FA, has been vindicated in the controversial decision to appoint Phil Neville as coach of the senior team in January 2017, despite the fact he had never coached in the women’s game before.

She told Sky News that Neville’s “emotional intelligence” has played a big part in the team’s success in France.

“I rang and asked him to apply,” she said. “But as soon as I got off the phone to him after an hour and a half I knew he was the man I wanted.

“He is a natural winner and so naturally he considers second place a failure. I don’t personally think second place will be a failure because of what the team has done to raise the profile of women’s football.

“But I absolutely think they can beat the USA.”

LE HAVRE, FRANCE - JUNE 27:  Steph Houghton of England celebrates following her sides victory in the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France Quarter Final match between Norway and England at Stade Oceane on June 27, 2019 in Le Havre, France. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Steph Houghton celebrates after Thursday’s win over Norway

Around the world this tournament has already smashed record viewing figures, including in Britain where the last two games, against Colombia and Norway, have been seen by an aggregate audience of 14 million.

In the fan zone at Lyon’s Place Bellecour, one of the city’s biggest squares overlooked by a striking equestrian statue of King Louis XIV, fans from both nations gathered on Monday.

The overwhelming opinion was that the attacking might of the USA would be too much for an England defence which has looked vulnerable at times during the last four weeks.

But Neville’s side remained confident of emerging as the Queens of Lyon after the final, to be held here on Sunday.

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