Jigsaw-puzzle England to spring yet a surprise on Norway


In the grand scheme of the Women’s World Cup, England aren’t expected to win, but as they prepare to face Norway in the round of 16, the entire camp is focussed on lifting the trophy.

Through three group games, manager Mark Sampson has used all 20 of the outfield players in his squad and lent on numerous tactical strategies and playing formations.

In a competition where his side are the 20/1 outsiders for ultimate glory, being as changeable as a chameleon in a fitting room figures to be one of their biggest strengths, according to the coach.

“Over the last 18 months we’ve played different systems and styles to make sure we had them in the locker come tournament time. It’s great to know that we can give a signal and the players will do something different, something to pose the opposition a different problem, or solve a problem of our own,” he told the Guardian.

So far, the constant rotation has served England well. They bounced back from opening-game defeat to France with a pair of 2-1 victories over Mexico and Colombia, setting up the battle with Group B runners-up Norway as a result. Sampson’s squad are rated at 7/5 for victory, with the Norwegians at 15/8.

Although Ladbrokes make Even Pellerud’s men an even longer shot to win the World Cup than England at 25/1, their draw with tournament favourites Germany during the group phase goes some way to prove how dangerous they can be.

The last time the pair met was Sampson’s first game in charge, a 1-1 draw back in January 2014. Beyond that stalemate, each side have taken a win apiece.

A second for either side here will set up a quarter final against the winners of hosts’ Canada’s battle against Switzerland.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.