Quarter-finals preview: England v Norway
England will face arguably their toughest opponent of the tournament so far when they play Norway in the quarter-final on Thursday evening. Indeed, Norway beat England in their last encounter - a friendly in January 2017. Marie Schulte-Bockum takes a look at each team's chances of progressing...
Norway’s centre-backs know England’s forwards inside out
England’s forward Ellen White, who has four World Cup goals in her three appearances, will have to find a way past Maren Mjelde and Maria Thorisdottir. Norway’s two centre-backs have the self-assurance and mutual understanding of playing together for Chelsea Ladies in club football.
The defensive duo know some of England’s best forwards, including White, Nikita Parris, Fran Kirby and Beth Mead, from their encounters in the FA Women’s Super League. Speaking to reporters after Norway’s win over Australia, Thorisdottir raved about her partnership with team captain Mjelde: “I can just look at her and we get eye contact and we know what we mean so that’s a really good relationship. I think we fit each other really well.”
England’s captain needs to shut down Norway’s Caroline Graham Hansen
At the other end of the pitch, Norway’s biggest attacking threat is 24-year-old Caroline Graham Hansen who will move to FC Barcelona after the World Cup. Against Australia, the tricky winger created chances out of thin air.
With the ball glued to her feet, Graham Hansen can glide past defenders with elegance and ease. England captain Steph Houghton, who orchestrated play from the back in an excellent manner against Cameroon, has a big task on her hands...
Norway and England seem evenly matched - will VAR decide the tie?
Additionally, Isabell Herlovsen is a prolific goalscorer and will be a real threat upfront. In combination with Guro Reiten on Norway’s left flank, she can be a real danger on the counter-attack. Interestingly, the duo will be up against Lucy Bronze, the best right-back in the game.
When Phil Neville’s team face Norway in Le Havre’s Stade Oceane, anything between a goal fest and a goalless draw seems possible. The tie may well be decided by a moment of magic, luck, or, dare we say, another controversial VAR penalty call...