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Can England win the Women's World Cup?
Every England fan remembers the day well. With a global cumulative live viewership of 365 million people, the Lionesses put fans through the absolute ringer in the Euro 2021 final against Germany, winning in extra time thanks to a winner from substitute Chloe Kelly.
Chaos ensued. Kelly removed her jersey and swung it around her head in what is now an iconic sporting moment. There was bedlam in the stadium. Roars were heard through the streets of London, Liverpool, and Plymouth.
It was the most momentous day for women's football in England; more than any other moment in the sport’s history.
But what about the World Cup? What are the Lionesses’ strengths and weaknesses going into the tournament? Can they go back-to-back on the international stage?
Here, we dive into England before the Women's World Cup and assess their chances of winning…
Women’s World Cup odds
At BetUK, the price has been fairly steady on England to win the tournament ever since that famous summer back in 2021. Sarina Wiegman’s side are available at 7/2 heading into the main event, although eagle-eyed punters could have got them at a slightly higher price earlier in the year.
The full odds for the World Cup winner market can be found here and the early front-runners are as follows:
England key players
Who are the most important players that the Lionesses will need to step up if they are to challenge the likes of the USA, Germany, and Australia to lift the trophy? We have earmarked two regular starters for the European champions, as well as a wildcard selection too.
Club: Manchester United; Position: Goalkeeper;' Strengths: Consistency, handling, communication
The Manchester United keeper has an incredible recent record playing for her country, which matches an unbelievable personal story. In 22 appearances for the national team over the last two years, she has kept 17 clean sheets.
Renowned for her strong communication skills as well as being a serial commander of the 18-yard area and an excellent shot-stopper, she was last year nominated for the FIFA Keeper of the Year award and was stand-in captain for England in a friendly against Portugal, both examples of her standing in the game at the moment.
It could have been a very different story for Earps, who went to the 2019 World Cup as third-choice goalkeeper and refused a contract from United in early 2021 because the amount the club offered up was not enough to live on.
Now, however, she is the undisputed last line of defence for her country. She needs to have a good tournament if England are to progress.
Club: Barcelona; Position: Defensive Midfielder; Strengths: Breaking the lines, passing, resisting the press
The glue that holds it all together, Walsh stands out as a highly technical pylon in any team she plays - she is the archetypal ‘calm head on calm shoulders’.
Her worth was underlined when Barcelona agreed on a world-record fee with Manchester City in September 2022, widely reported to sit around the £400,000 mark.
A highly-effective pivot, she is the centre point for all of the many good plays that England and Barcelona have been orchestrating over the past few months.
Her importance to the team is never underestimated, with the likes of Barcelona striker Patri Guijarro, ex-Manchester City manager Nick Cushing, and England teammate Lucy Bronze waxing lyrical about her performances in recent times.
We will leave the last word on Walsh to fellow England superstar striker Beth Mead, though.
"Keira just makes football look easy,” said Euro 2021 player of the tournament Mead. “You're comfortable as a team and as a forward player with her there. You know that, if you make that run, you're going to get that ball. Keira sees things before other people."
Club: Chelsea; Position: Winger; Strengths: Dribbling, pace, goalscoring
Many observers believe the sky is the limit for this prodigiously talented winger, who lit up Chelsea's title-winning 2022-23 campaign.
The flying London-born forward bagged eight goals in 33 appearances for the Blues in all competitions and her overall play earned her the PFA Young Player of the Year award, solidifying her name as one of England's brightest prospects.
She was missing from the squad list when the Lionesses triumphed in the 2021 Euros but her absence from that moment of glory could make her a secret weapon on the international stage. She is competing with Kelly and Lauren Hemp for a starting berth at the start of the tournament but, if she can replicate her Chelsea form, we could be about to see a truly impactful debut on the biggest stage.
She hasn't been prolific from an assist-making or goalscoring perspective but she likes to drive at opponents, get to the byline and pull balls back. If, like us, you think she could make a name for herself, you could check out the top assist-maker market at BetUK.
Top scorer chances
There are a few candidates from other countries who are perhaps likelier to be top of the pile in this metric. Still, Manchester United's Alessio Russo and Aston Villa's Rachel Daly are two obvious candidates to vie for the title with England.
Russo has been the first-choice forward since last summer. Still, goals have been hard to come by coming into the tournament - registering just three in her previous ten games in all competitions.
By contrast, Daly has been in the form of her life this season - scoring 22 goals in 22 games for the Villans to win the Women's Super League (WSL) Golden Boot for the 2022-23 season, equalling Vivianne Miedema's record in the competition. She also hit five goals in nine games for the national team in 2023, starting in just five of those nine matches.
Of the two, Daly is the shorter odds to win the tournament's top scorer accolade at 16/1, while Russo is available at 18/1 with BetUK.
Despite the competition for places, we think the bookmakers have got this one right - and Daly looks great value, especially with England facing the likes of Norway, who they beat 8-0 in Euro 2021, and an unfancied Haiti team.
Both could be worth backing, especially if you think England could make a deep run. The full top scorer odds can be found here and the early golden boot favourites are as follows:
England Women’s World Cup Squad
Goalkeepers: Mary Earps (Manchester United), Hannah Hampton (Aston Villa), Ellie Roebuck (Manchester City)
Defenders: Millie Bright (Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (Barcelona), Jess Carter (Chelsea), Niamh Charles (Chelsea), Alex Greenwood (Manchester City), Esme Morgan (Manchester City), Lotte Wubben-Moy (Arsenal)
Midfielders: Laura Coombs (Manchester City), Jordan Nobbs (Aston Villa), Georgia Stanway (Bayern Munich), Ella Toone (Manchester United), Keira Walsh (Barcelona), Katie Zelem (Manchester United)
Forwards: Rachel Daly (Aston Villa), Bethany England (Tottenham Hotspur), Lauren Hemp (Manchester City), Lauren James (Chelsea), Chloe Kelly (Manchester City), Katie Robinson (Brighton & Hove Albion), Alessia Russo (Manchester United)
Where to watch England’s Women’s World Cup games
All of the Women’s World Cup matches are televised. England’s opener versus Haiti will be broadcast live on ITV, their meeting with Denmark is on the BBC and their Group D finale against China back on ITV. The full section schedule is:
England v Haiti (10:30, 22 July); Denmark v China (13:00, 22 July); England v Denmark (09:30, 28 July); China v Haiti (12:00, 28 July); China v England (12:00, 1 August); Haiti v Denmark (12:00, 1 August).
The BBC will show the team’s first knockout game, should they get there as expected, with the broadcaster also taking both semi-final games if the Lionesses reach that phase.
Firstly, let’s cover the negatives. England come into this tournament without three of their best players - Beth Mead, Fran Kirby, and skipper Leah Williamson - all to serious knee injuries. In losing three experienced campaigners, and with them a combined 158 caps and 50 goals, the Lionesses will no doubt be weaker.
And there is also the spectre of the bonus dispute hanging over the squad, with players locked in discussions with the Football Association’s decision not to award bonuses at this summer's tournament. Such disputes can disrupt if allowed to fester - or they can forge a deeper bond within the squad united for a common goal.
But despite those off-field issues, England possess an incredibly strong spine, exciting young talent and depth in their forward line.
In short, it’s clear why they’re second favourites - there is absolutely a credible case for the Lionesses to go two from two in international competitions and cement their status as one of the world’s best.
All odds correct at type of publication