Come Sunday, England will be kicking off their World Cup campaign in a home nation derby against Scotland.
Their other group games consist of Argentina and Japan – four years on from that heart-breaking semi-final defeat at the 2015 World Cup. GMSW's Courtney Hill takes a look at England's three group opponents...
Despite dominating Scotland at the 2017 European Championships, beating Japan at the most recent SheBelieves Cup and Argentina being at their first World Cup in 12 years, Group D looks set to be a tough ride for Neville and his side, who are third favourites to lift the World Cup trophy at 13/2 with GIVEMEBET.
After a disappointing defeat to New Zealand over the weekend, all eyes will be on England to bounce back this weekend.
Scotland – Group Preview
Scotland will arrive in France looking to prove themselves after narrowly missing out on the 2015 World Cup. Their only major tournament experience comes in the form of the Euros 2017, where two losses and one impressive win over Spain wasn't enough to take them beyond the group stages.
Qualification for this year’s World Cup didn’t come easy either, topping their group on the very last day of qualifying thanks to Switzerland dropping points. But former Scotland midfielder - and now Head Coach - Shelley Kerr will relish the tournament environment with her implementation of attacking football and nurturing of exciting, young players.
This is something that has resonated with fans as their send-off game saw a crowd of around 18,000, trumping their previous 4,098 records for an international game.
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Arsenal’s Kim Little, who missed out on Euro 2017 through injury, and Chelsea’s Erin Cuthbert are two names in the squad to watch as the first game approaches. Both have had impressive seasons with their respective clubs and generate an immense attacking threat for Scotland going forward.
Argentina – Group Preview
Since 1991, Argentina has qualified just twice for a World Cup – once for USA 2003 and once for China 2007. In both, they finished bottom of their respective groups.
While their group of players are lacking major tournament experience, their Head Coach – Carlos Borrello – is not short of it. Borrello reached two World Cups and an Olympic Games with the seniors, and during his stint away from the national side he also gained experience in the Primera Division.
Dubbed Argentina’s ‘female Messi’, Estefania Banini will be the one to watch as they kick off their campaign against Japan. Banini is a talented playmaker who comes with bags of experience, including spells overseas in America and Spain. During her time with Chilean side Colo-Colo, she was even voted women's footballer of the year.
Japan – Group Preview
Despite Scotland being a home nation derby, the Japan game is set to trigger even greater emotions – especially for those Lionesses who were part of the 2015 squad that suffered a last-minute defeat to Japan, who went on to lose against the USA in the final. With England getting the better of them recently in a 3-0 victory at the SheBelieves Cup they may feel confident going into the game, but Japan can never be underestimated.
Coming into their seventh consecutive World Cup, Japan will be hoping to replicate their 2011 World Cup in which they came out on top as winners. The senior team will come into the tournament hoping to follow the U-20s team that won the World Cup in France last year. As a result of their success, Japan is now the only nation to have won world titles at every age group.
With a mix of youth and experience, there will be plenty of players to keep an eye on during their World Cup campaign. Perhaps one of the most important is Kumi Yokoyama, who has been on fire at the club level. She was a key figure in Japan's AFC Women's Asian Cup success last year, scoring the winning goal against Australia. The forward is clinical in front of goal and aiming to help this Japan side achieve yet another world title.
With three tough games to come for England, it's key they take each one at a time and not get ahead of themselves. The outcome of Group D from England's perspective will be a real indicator of how their World Cup campaign could unfold.
The Lionesses will be looking to go two better than the team who won bronze in 2015 and it all begins on Sunday against Scotland, where they are resounding favourites to start the tournament with a victory at 2/11.