The group 6 decisive game is coming soon with England trailing Netherlands by 5 points with a game in hand. Netherlands has England then Serbia away, while England has Netherlands at home, Slovenia away and the final game at home to Croatia on the 19th of September.
If logics prevails Netherlands will beat Serbia and England will beat Slovenia and Croatia. Therefore there is a virtual 2 points lead for Netherlands. It also important to note that head to head record is the tie breaker in case of two teams finishing level on points. With the away game having finished 0-0, a win would put England in the driving seat, a defeat would send Netherlands to the Euros. A scoring draw would mean England needing Netherlands to slip up and to finish with more points than them. A scoreless draw would mean another hope of a Netherlands slip-up but this time should the teams finish level on points, overall goal difference would be the tie breaker.
There is a new captain in Casey Stoney taking over from the now retired Faye White following her pregnancy news. Not a big surprise as she has experience, leadership knowledge and skill. This is the full squad list :
Karen Bardsley (Linköping), Rachel Brown (Everton), Siobhan Chamberlain (Bristol Academy), Carly Telford (Chelsea)
Laura Bassett (Birmingham City), Sophie Bradley (Lincoln Ladies), Claire Rafferty (Chelsea), Alex Scott (Arsenal), Casey Stoney (Lincoln Ladies), Dunia Susi (Chelsea), Rachel Unitt (Birmingham City)
Anita Asante (Goteborg), Karen Carney (Birmingham City), Steph Houghton (Arsenal), Jade Moore (Birmingham City), Jill Scott (Everton), Fara Williams (Everton)
Eniola Aluko (Birmingham City), Toni Duggan (Everton), Ellen White (Arsenal), Rachel Williams (Birmingham City), Rachel Yankey (Arsenal)
Hope Powell’s pre-game comments are very interesting :
“It is a crucial qualifier,” said Powell. “We need to get three points.
“I saw them play against Slovenia and they have been playing with an air of confidence lately and I’m sure their new manager [Roger Reijners] has given them that belief. We are used to the Dutch being very defensive, sitting back and looking for the counter. Now they play higher up the pitch and they are more attack-focussed.
“It’s going to be a difficult game and I’m hoping we can get a decent crowd. We are going to have to be on top of our game because we are expecting it to be a challenging game.
“We did well in Holland, but we were probably a little too defensive. We have learned things from that game and we will look to address them in time.”
For those watching on internet or who were at the game, it was obvious that England should have gone for the kill and were playing too defensively. Especially when Netherlands was showing sign of weaknesses on the day.
To be fair, they were probably banking on a home win and that will be enough probably to qualify directly but a win other there would have made it easier. I also note this probably the first time I read an admission that they made a wrong choice in a game and it is an important step and a departure from their usual stance in interviewing with no explanation or acknowledgment of problems.