The women’s Euro 2013 competition is in full flight in Sweden, with the second round of group fixtures coming to a close. England are in a must-win situation when they take on Russia in Linkoping today.
Hope Powell’s side have been drawn in a tricky Group C alongside Spain, France and Russia, and to stand any chance of making it through to the knockout rounds, need to get a positive result in today’s fixture.
The British side were unlucky to be beaten by Spain in their opener in the tournament, going down 3-2 in a thrilling clash. The scores were level at half-time after Veronica Boquete and Eniola Aluko had traded goals early in the encounter. In an end-to-end second half, the Spaniards looked to have claimed victory with five minutes remaining when Jenifer Hermoso beat Karen Bardsley in the English goal.
To their credit, England came back and equalised through Laura Bassett with a minute left on the clock, only for the Spanish side to score a last-ditch, 93rd minute winner through substitute Alexia Putellas. That goal could well be costly come the end of the group stages for England.
Against the Russians, England will look to experienced heads such as Rachel Yankey and captain Casey Stoney to lead by example, and show the rest of the team what is required to win. Powell may be tempted to introduce all-time top goalscorer Kelly Smith to the side, and the Brits will hope to get off to a strong start to secure a win.
Russia also find themselves in a must-win encounter, after they were beaten 3-1 by France. Farid Benstiti’s side were outplayed by a talented French side, and found themselves 2-0 down at half-time, and conceded the decisive third just after the hour mark.
The Russians side pull back a consolation goal through Elena Morozova in the dying minutes, but the eastern European side must improve if they are to get anything out of the game against England. Notably, Russia captain Tatiana Skotnikova started from the bench against France.
England go into the game as favourites, and will feel that they were unlucky not to get anything out of the game against Spain. With potential elimination on the cards if the side suffer another defeat, England will look to come out of the blocks quickly, and will know that an early goal has the potential to knock Russia’s confidence.