- KO 00:30
England v Canada
- Venue: BC Place, Vancouver
- Date: 28 June
- Kick-off: 00:30 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC One, BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Sport website, mobiles and sport app
Canada are feeling the pressure of being Women’s World Cup hosts ahead of their quarter-final with England, says Lionesses boss Mark Sampson.
The two teams, who have each won one of their two meetings this year 1-0, play in Vancouver at 00:30 BST on Sunday.
“There’s been a different Canadian team at this tournament,” said Sampson. “They’ve relied on some fortunate decisions and big individual moments.
“I’m not sure we’ve seen Canada score a really strong goal.”
Canada are ranked eighth in the world, two places below England, and are attempting to reach their second World Cup semi-final, while Sampson’s team have never made it past the last eight.
Led by English coach John Herdman, the hosts have reached the last eight with two 1-0 victories and two draws.
They won the bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympics, having beaten Great Britain 2-0 in the quarter-finals, with many of the current England squad involved.
GB flopped in that match at Coventry after beating Brazil in front of a record 70,000 crowd at Wembley and Sampson, 32, says host status could have a similar effect on the current Canadian team.
“They’ve put their lives on hold for this tournament but we’re excited by the challenge and our squad is ready to take on the Canadian nation,” he added.
Over 54,000 fans are expected to pack into BC Place for the last-eight tie.
England wary of ‘most aggressive team’
Sampson, who was appointed 18 months ago and led his side to their first World Cup knockout win in the last round against Norway, made a point of highlighting Canada’s physical approach in his pre-match news conference.
He said his side are ready to face the “most aggressive team in the tournament”.
The Welshman added: “We’ve got a qualified referee on our staff and looking back at their games he says the number of fouls awarded against them could have been quadrupled. I hope the referee realises there are 22 players on the pitch.”
‘We’ll give England hell’
When it was the turn of Herdman to speak to the media, Sampson’s comments were put to the Canada boss.
And he was happy to support the notion that his team will play aggressively.
“We’re looking forward to getting out there and giving England hell,” said Herdman.
“There’s one team that wants to prevent us from getting into the next round and a team here that’s been dreaming of that for the last three or four years, maybe their whole lives.
“We’ll be going out there as physical as we can and doing what Canadians do. The players will put their bodies on the line.”
The form guide
England have beaten Canada twice and lost once since Sampson replaced former boss Hope Powell in December 2013. One of those victories was a 1-0 win over Herdman’s side in the 2015 Cyprus Cup final in March.
Since then England lost by the same scoreline in their final pre-World Cup friendly on 1 June.
After losing their opening Group F game to France, England qualified for the second round with consecutive wins over lowly-ranked Mexico and Colombia. Their last-16 victory over Euro 2013 finalists Norway was only the third World Cup knockout win by a senior England team in the men’s or women’s game since 1990.
The two previous successes came when England’s men beat Ecuador in the last 16 of the 2006 World Cup and defeated Denmark at the same stage in 2002.
‘A unique opportunity’
Now that the England Under-21 team have been knocked out of their European Championship at the group stages, Sampson said beating Canada would give his side a “unique opportunity” to grow the women’s game.
A peak audience of 2.3m people watched England’s World Cup opener against France on BBC television, but average attendances in the top division of the domestic Women’s Super League are just below 1,000.
England are one of the best-funded teams at the World Cup, although Sampson said Canada were fortunate to receive more financial backing than the host nation’s men’s team.
“There’s only one thing that will grow the game and that’s good England performances and good England results,” said the Lionesses manager. “The way our players carry themselves and how well we’re looked at back home is up to people to decide.
“We’re fully aware of what we need to do to perform. We’re good tourists and good people, so we hope people look at this team and feel they can connect with it.”
This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service – if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.