England coach Phil Neville showered praises on reigning Champions – the USA Women’s National Team (USWNT) and Megan Rapinoe following her impressive showing so far, especially in the knock out stage of the ongoing FIFA Women’s World Cup.
These words from Neville have come ahead of Tuesday’s semi-final meeting between USA and England in what promises to be an exciting clash between two of the most impressive sides in France.
Rapinoe scored twice in the 2-1 win against Spain the round of 16 and also in the 2-1 win against France in quarter-final to became the first player to score multiple goals in back-to-back knockout-phase matches at a FIFAWWC.
“Megan is someone I really admire,” says Phil Neville. “I like her individuality both on and off the field, and I think she is a world-class footballer. Ultimately, the USA are at the moment the reigning champions and the team everyone wants to beat,” he adds.
In the same vein, America’s tennis female superstar Serena Williams who stayed in the same hotel with the Three Lionesses in Nice during the recently concluded French Open praised the team for their level of fitness and athleticism. “It’s been well documented that Serena was in our hotel – some of the girls were fan-girling her, which is quite right, she’s won so many trophies,” said Steph Houghton.
“Watching her on the court was a real privilege not many people have the honour of having. For her to say that about us is amazing for this squad. We pride ourselves on our hard work and our ability to be one of the fittest teams in the world. But we’re humble, and for someone of that calibre and status to say that about me and my team-mates is unbelievable, and we’d like to thank her for that.”
Reigning World Champions USA take on The Three Lionesses of England tonight in first the semi-final of the FIFAWWC and below are some statistics to take note of.
– Megan Rapinoe has been directly involved in 14 goals in her 16 appearances at the FIFAWWC (eight goals, six assists).
– It’s been five years since USA lost a game in which Megan Rapinoe scored. Since that 3-2 loss to Brazil, the USWNT have won 13 and drawn two of the 5 games in which their fabulous winger has netted.
– England and USA have met only once at the FIFAWWC: in the China 2007 quarter-finals. It was 0-0 at half-time, but goals from Abby Wambach, Shannon Boxx and Kristine Lilly powered the USWNT to a 3-0 victory.