Women's Sport: Phil Neville says players relish USA 'rivalry' ahead of SheBelieves Cup

2019 SheBelieves Cup - England v Japan

Eight months on from England's heartbreak in France, they face the same opposition that sent them packing in yet another semi-final upset for the Lionesses. 

Goals from Christen Press and Alex Morgan were enough to see through the World Cup champions, with tensions running high thanks to Morgan's notorious tea-sipping celebration.  

With much of the SheBelieves attention on the opening game between England and the USA, Neville talked up the competitiveness in his squad announcement press conference. 

"I think it's becoming a real rivalry between us.

"The games have been really competitive and the way our players have been talked about now is getting close to the way people talk about the U.S. players," he said. 

"I think our players and their players will be relishing this even more," Neville continued, with a view to recreating the mammoth club rivalries at a domestic level. 

While England will be going into the tournament with a view to get one back on America and retain the SBC title, the latter will be working to make sure they don't lose a tournament on home soil again. 

Neville's selected squad boasts a chance for youth, with eight of the 23-player squad being under the age of 23, which includes a first senior call-up for Grace Fisk. 

The U.S. has already shown their vulnerabilities when it comes to facing a younger squad. Back in November of last year, they came very close to blowing a 3-0 lead when they drew 3-2 with Sweden during a friendly.

A comfortable first half was quickly matched with a fast-paced second half thanks to the introduction of 20-year-old Loreta Kullashi, 22-year-old Anna Anvegård who bagged a brace to pull it back and 17-year-old Hanna Bennison who made a lasting impact on the game. 

England's exciting crop of youngsters could be the key to unlocking and defeating an ageing USA side, given the chance. 

The SheBelieves Cup will kick-off Friday (technically Thursday in the US) 6th March, scheduled as follows:

  • England v USA: 6th March 12:00 am on BBC 2 
  • England v Japan: 8th March 7:15 pm on BBC 4
  • England v Spain: 11th March 9:15 pm on BBC 4
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