England vs France – May be best to side with French
History certainly appears to be on the side of France as they prepare for their FIFA Women’s World Cup quarter final with England.
The French are unbeaten in their last ten meetings with England and have won on half of these occasions.
It has been almost 37 years since England last beat the French, while the English also do not have the greatest record in World Cup quarter finals, losing to Germany at the same stage in 1995 and then the USA four years ago.
However, England can take confidence from the fact that their captain Faye White should be fit enough to appear after she was rested for the 2-0 victory over Japan in the final group game.
Although Sophie Bradley proved an able deputy for the victory and England may decide to remain unchanged after keeping their first clean sheet of the tournament.
Meanwhile, France will be without first-choice goalkeeper Berangere Sapowicz, who is suspended after getting sent off in the group-stage defeat to Germany.
Another factor in favour of the French is that their squad includes ten players who featured for Lyon in their charge to the women’s Champions League last season.
France are the favourites in the World Cup odds to beat England at 23/20, with Hope Powell’s team 11/5 to move into a semi-final showdown with either Brazil or the USA.
But with the pair drawing in their last friendly in 2009 and in both meetings during qualifying for the 2007 World Cup, the best bet may prove the 9/4 that the quarter final goes into extra time, which may suit an England team that has already been practicing penalties.
The game could ultimately come down to a superstar individual performance, with the French able to call on the talented Louisa Necib, while England have Kelly Smith.