England (4-2-3-1) Telford; Bronze, Houghton, Bright, Greenwood; Christiansen, Nobbs; Parris, Kirby, Duggan; Daly.
Substitutes: Earps, Chamberlain, Williams, George, Walsh, Staniforth, Mead, Lawley
Brazil Barbara, Leticia, Bruna, Monica, Camila, Thaisa, Formiga, Marta, Ludmila, Andressa Alves, Debinha.
Substitutes: Aline, Poliana, Daiane, Tamires, Darlene, Rilany, Kathellen, Geyse, Andressinha, Kerolin, Raquel.
Hello. The lead up to a major tournament is often the best bit, a happy stretch of hope and anticipation with not even a soupçon of harsh reality. At this stage, nobody has missed a penalty or scored an injury-time own goal. You can rationalise defeats in pre-tournament friendlies and get carried away with victories. And you can sincerely believe that this time, more than any other time, we’re gonna find a way.
England qualified comfortably for next summer’s tournament in France, and their attempt to finally reach a major final begins with two friendlies this week. They play the Copa América Femenina winners Brazil at Meadow Lane this afternoon, and on Tuesday they host Australia at Craven Cottage. Both are excellent opponents who will provide a fascinating test of Phil Neville’s avowed philosophy. Pip Guardiola wants England to keep the ball and impose their style on the game, no matter who they are playing against.
Neville has talked a terrific game so far. He knows the ultimate test of his tactical idealism will come, as it did for Gareth Southgate, at the World Cup. The pressure of knockout games has a helluva way of compromising principles. But these two matches are a chance for England to show they are serious about doing things differently – and, if they go well, to get some positive reinforcement in the process.
Kick off is at 12.30pm.