Can England win the SheBelieves Cup?
Phil Neville’s side face USA in their opening game
England Women kick-off their defence of the SheBelieves Cup in the early hours of Friday morning with a tough test against the USA.
It will be the first meeting between the two teams since the USA won 2-1 in last summer’s World Cup semi-final.
The USA are clear 4/9 favourites, with England at 11/2. The draw is going for 14/5.
Carli Lloyd and Lynn Williams are joint 7/2 favourites to score the opening goal. Ballon d’Or winner Megan Rapinoe is 6/4 to net anytime.
Bethany England and Ellen White are both 15/2 to score the first goal for England, with England their likeliest anytime scorer at 3/1.
But England come into the tournament on the back of a tough run of results. They’ve only won two of their seven games since the World Cup.
Phil Neville will know results have to improve. But he’s also taking a long-term view with his squad selection this month.
He’s called up several promising young players, despite their lack of international experience, with a view to bedding them in ahead of next summer’s European Championships on home soil. There’s also still plenty of proven quality, including Nikita Parris, Toni Duggan and Jill Scott.
Will it be enough to take England all the way again? They’re up against a dominant USA team, Japan and Spain in a round-robin format.
England might have struggled after the World Cup, but the US have had no such issues. They’ve changed manager yet still won their last six matches without conceding a single goal.
They’ll be without Alex Morgan here, but can still call on the likes of Megan Rapinoe, Rose Lavelle and Carli Lloyd. With the tournament being played in the States, they’re the team to beat.
Japan and Spain can also pose a threat – especially with Mana Iwabuchi and Jennifer Hermoso respectively – but the opening match will be the key to England’s chances.
Beat the USA and they’ll be very confident of lifting the trophy for a second time. It’ll take a sensational display, but Neville will believe his side are more than capable of pulling off an upset.
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All odds and markets correct as of date of publication