England is eyeing a second consecutive semifinal appearance, but first, they will have to get past a solid Norwegian side that has defied expectations so far in the 2019 Women’s World Cup, according to Squawka. In the Round of 16, England dispatched Cameroon easily enough in a match that drew more headlines focused on VAR decisions and the actions of the Cameroonian side rather than the English women’s dominance. Norway, on the other hand, pulled off a minor upset against Australia in a match that was heralded as an instant classic and included a penalty shootout and a red card against the Australian side.
Before the tournament kicked off, Norway was a difficult team to peg due to the absence of Ballon d’Or winner Ada Hegerberg. While they remained a solid team, they lacked the talisman that could carry them across the line against the bigger teams. After their victory against Australia, currently ranked sixth in the world by FIFA, the Norwegian women showed that they didn’t need a superstar to pull off an upset and demonstrated just how well the team has gelled under manager Martin Sjögren since the tournament began.
Striker Isabell Herlovsen has taken up the scoring load for Norway after picking up goals in the past two matches, while defensively they have conceded only four goals so far this tournament. However, three of those goals have been conceded in the last 20 minutes of their matches. If they are to make it past the favored English women, Norway will have to put together a full 90-minute performance defensively.
The potential absence of England captain Steph Houghton could prove to be a major loss for the Lionesses. The Manchester City player was on the receiving end of a controversial challenge by Cameroon’s Alexandra Takounda in the final seconds of the victory, injuring her ankle and raising major doubts regarding her participation, according to The Telegraph. Houghton not only provides veteran leadership to side, with more than 100 cups and a vital role in England’s previous tournament teams to her name, but is also a scoring threat from the midfield.
Still, England has won all four of their matches while conceding only a single goal, with the team appearing to improve with each match. It’s up to them to ignore the building pressure and capitalize on their very realistic chance of winning the whole thing.
Date: Thursday, June 27
Time: 9 p.m. local time, 8 p.m. BST, 3 p.m. ET
TV Info: BBC One, Fox