Three talking points ahead of England's clash with Japan

·2-min read
Phil Neville during the press conference (Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra)

England will be aiming to put their opening defeat to the USA behind them when they take on Japan in the SheBelieves Cup on Sunday, writes Frankie Christou.

Losses for both the Lionesses and Japan have put them on the back-foot heading into this encounter but finding form will be crucial.

Here are three things to look out for ahead of the clash:

Getting back on track

After the drama in last year’s World Cup semi-final, the contest against the USA was expected to be a revenge mission.

However, England couldn’t keep up with the World Cup winners and were outclassed on the field which ended in the Lionesses suffering their sixth defeat in nine games.

The USA produced a comfortable victory thanks to second-half goals from Christen Press and Carli Lloyd.

Phil Neville’s side will hope to put that performance behind them and give a better account of themselves against Japan.

Head-to-head favours England

With both sides hoping to kickstart their campaigns, England have the better recent record when the teams have met.

At the World Cup, the two faced off in the group stages and Ellen White’s double gave England the victory and meant they topped the group.

The Lionesses once again got the better of Japan at the 2019 SheBelieves Cup, running out 3-0 winners with Lucy Staniforth, Karen Carney and Beth Mead all scoring.

But after Japan lost 3-1 to Spain in their first game of the tournament, expect a reaction from both sides who will be trying to get back to winning ways.

Change of personnel

There are no new injury concerns to worry about ahead of the clash with Japan but the side will still miss both Lucy Bronze and Mead, who were ruled out of the tournament through injury.

One of the main talking points from the loss to the USA was the fact that in-from striker Beth England didn’t start the match.

The Chelsea star was named the Barclays Women’s Super League player of the month and has scored 21 goals in all competitions this season.

Her form has been vital for Chelsea in the hunt for all three domestic honours, but it remains to be seen if she will get the nod against Japan.