Women’s World Cup: England boss Phil Neville says semi-final defeat would be failure

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Head coach Phil Neville says it would be considered a “failure” if England do not beat the USA to reach the Women’s World Cup final.

The Lionesses face the defending champions and world number one side in the semi-finals in Lyon on Tuesday – in a game live on BBC One (20:00 BST).

England, ranked third, have never gone beyond the last four at a major tournament.

“Nobody cares who loses a semi-final, it’s all about winning,” said Neville.

“No-one cares about silver and bronze – it’s the gold medal everyone wants.”

England lost out against Japan in 2015 and went on to beat Germany in the third-place play-off to secure the team’s best-ever finish.

They then made the last four at Euro 2017 but lost to hosts and eventual champions the Netherlands.

“My players now want to win,” he added. “If we don’t get the right result, we’ll feel the disappointment and we’ll see that as a failure.

“That’s not me being negative, that’s just our expectations, our belief and our confidence.”

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‘This time the prize is even bigger’

Three-time champions the USA have lost just once in their last five internationals against England, and won 3-0 in their only World Cup encounter in the 2007 quarter-finals.

But Neville’s side will be boosted by their performance against Jill Ellis’ team in the SheBelieves Cup earlier this year, a game which they drew 2-2 on American soil.

England came away with the silverware from the invitational event and Neville said: “The March game was a good game for both teams.

“We played really well and that game gave us great confidence and belief.

“We were the ones that stood on that platform and lifted that trophy. When you win something, it gives you the taste of it and this time the prize is even bigger.”

Neville was asked about the presence of a USA official at England’s hotel, reportedly seeing if it was suitable for them if they reach the final, which is also in Lyon.

“It’s not a concern,” he said. “The only thing I would say is it’s not something that I would want my team ops person doing. It’s not something that England would do.

“But it’s their problem. I’m sure that Jill [Ellis] probably wouldn’t have been happy with that arrangement.”

‘We are not an arrogant team’

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The USA have never failed to reach the Women’s World Cup semis and are four-time finalists – where their only defeat came in a penalty shootout against Japan in 2011.

Following their 3-0 group win over Chile in France, when coach Ellis made seven changes, defender Ali Krieger said the Americans had “the best team in the world, and the second best team in the world”.

When asked if those comments showed arrogance within the team, Ellis responded: “Really it’s a comment about ourselves and how she feels.

“She has the right to say that. It’s important that our team has confidence and I don’t think in any way this is an arrogant team.

“This team knows they have to earn everything, that we’ve got tough opponents still ahead of us and we have to earn the right to advance in this tournament.”

Neville said his side now have the same attitude as Tuesday’s opponents, referencing the USA’s quarter-final when they held on to win 2-1 against hosts France.

“The USA have that ruthless streak,” he said. “Their game management in the last few minutes against France was fantastic.

“They took the ball into the corner and they celebrated like winners and that’s what my team have got now.”

BBC Sport has launched #ChangeTheGame this summer to showcase female athletes in a way they never have been before. Through more live women’s sport available to watch across the BBC this summer, complemented by our journalism, we are aiming to turn up the volume on women’s sport and alter perceptions. Find out more here.

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