Friday, September 29, 2023

Lionesses ‘energised’ by boos, out to avenge Australia loss, and ready to create World Cup history

The Lionesses can do something they’ve never done before on Wednesday and – reach a World Cup final.

In 2015 and 2019 England suffered the heartbreak of losing in the semi-final, both agonising 2-1 defeats.

Four years ago, USA broke England hearts in the semi-finalGetty

England beat Colombia to book their place in the World Cup semi-finalGetty

However, this is a different England team that will be stepping out onto the field in Sydney against hosts Australia.

This team knows how to win, maintaining an incredible record of never losing a competitive match under Sarina Wiegman.

They are the reigning European champions and won the Finalissima against Brazil too.

In fact, in the 37 matches that Wiegman has taken charge of since September 2021 there has been just one defeat.

That loss came in a friendly to Australia in April, just five days after that Finalissima victory.

So it is time to avenge that loss for the Lionesses with a final against Spain on Sunday the prize if they win.

Those demons will be there having fallen at the final four hurdle over the last two tournaments.

This is something not on the mind of captain Millie Bright, who says the team is relishing in the pressure.

She told talkSPORT: “As a group, these are the moments we thrive in. We are really excited to come up against a tough team and I think it’s going to be a brilliant game.”

It will be an intense atmosphere in Sydney with the majority of the 75,000 people inside the stadium will be cheering on hosts Australia.

Bright is relishing the chance to play in front of 75,000 people in SydneyAFP

Bright added: “Our previous game [against Colombia] we got a taste for it and in those moments fans give you energy. When you hear the cheering and the chanting, the boos, that’s all part of the game.

“For us as a team, we get energy from that. We are looking forward to seeing the crowd tomorrow and ultimately in a World Cup semi-final you want the crowd to be buzzing.

“I think it’s credit to Australia, the tournament has been amazing. We don’t want anything less than a full crowd and a great atmosphere. It shows the growth of the game.”

The majority of people inside the stadium will be cheering on AustraliaGetty

For manager Wiegman, she can achieve a personal milestone in becoming the first person to lead two different nations to the World Cup final.

She led the Netherlands to the 2019 final, losing out to the USA, and is now just one game away from taking England there too.

However this is not something on her mind. Wiegman told talkSPORT: “It’s only about the team. When you go to a tournament you go to win. You can only win game by game and go game by game.

“My focus is totally not on that [being the first coach to reach the final with two nations], it’s about the team, playing our best game and focusing on the football.

“We just want to go to the final.”

Listen to live commentary of Australia vs England in the Women’s World Cup semi-final on talkSPORT 2 on Wednesday at 11am.

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