Man City goal-getter to be relegated into a battle for World Cup bronze

Man City goal-getter to be relegated into a battle for World Cup bronze

England’s match-winner in both the round-of-16 and quarter-finals of the Women’s World Cup has been Manchester City jill of all trades Lucy Bronze.

However, a semi-final meeting with 2011 champions Japan should mean that bronze is what they end up rivalling Germany for on final weekend, rather than fighting USA for the trophy.

Japan are available to back at 11/10 on bwin.com to secure a spot in a second successive final in the regulation 90 minutes, with the draw 11/5 and the England triumph 3/1.

The £30 free bet bonus available to new bwin.com customers presents the possibility of promptly pocketing £33 by backing the holders, who are a hugely attractive punt at that price.

Unlikely anyone else in the competition, Norio Sasaki’s side have won all five of their games in Canada. Even more impressively, they haven’t trailed once either, with both of the goals that they have conceded coming in the 90th minute of fixtures that they have led 2-1.

While it is true that England are their most accomplished opponents yet, the step up in class is more substantial for the Lionesses, whose run of four 2-1 victories in a row came against nations ranked 25th (Mexico), 28th (Colombia), 11th (Norway) and joint-eighth (Canada).

On the one occasion that they confronted one of the top five on the planet, France, they surrendered meekly.

England were outperformed by France in the Women's World Cup group stage
England were outperformed by France in the Women’s World Cup group stage

England’s newbie status when it comes to World Cup semi-finals – with this the first time in four tries that they have successfully ploughed through the quarters – is a disadvantage too.

Just seven teams have reached a World Cup final before. When you remove USA and Norway from the reckoning because they contested the inaugural showpiece, four of the other five finalists had to pay the due of losing a semi-final first before making the final at a later edition.

Germany, China, Sweden and Brazil all followed that formula, with Japan proving precisely how talented they are by providing the sole exception to the established protocol in 2011, and then going a step further by winning the whole thing.

Whatever happens in Edmonton, England manager Mark Sampson and players like skipper Steph Houghton and Bronze have elevated themselves enormously in this tournament.

However, with Japan as adversaries, they are considerably more likely to mirror the heroic near-triumphs of the men’s World Cup 1990 and Euro 1996 squads that be remembered as the Sir Alf Ramsey, Bobby Moore and Sir Geoff Hurst of the English women’s game.

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