Wales Women v England Women Preview
Wales Women face England Women on Friday evening at Rodney Parade, home of Newport County, with automatic qualification for the 2019 Women’s World Cup at stake.
The match is delicately poised as only one team from each qualifying group goes through automatically. From the seven European groups, the best four second placed finishers enter the play-offs. Just one team from the play-offs will qualify for the finals.
Jayne Ludlow’s side are currently top of Group One and have yet to lose or concede a goal. Should Wales win against England, they will make history and reach their first ever World Cup.
England are one point behind Wales in second place. Defeat would end their chances of automatic qualification but a draw would leave them needing at least a draw in their final group match, in Kazakhstan on Tuesday, to finish top.
Phil Neville’s side reached the semi-final of the previous World Cup and came third after winning the third place play off against Germany. Missing out on automatic qualification would be hugely disappointing for the Lionesses.
The two teams last met earlier in qualifying in April when they played out a goalless draw. Wales were excellent in defence and withstood immense pressure from England to leave with a precious point. Laura O’Sullivan made a string of outstanding saves to keep the scores level and if she is on top form again on Friday, England will struggle to get past her once more.
Ludlow has a fully fit squad to choose from for Wales’ last match. Charlie Estcourt was not included in the squad due to injury.
Neville will be without England’s most capped player Fara Williams who was ruled out with injury and replaced by Hannah Blundell. Lucy Staniforth has also been called up to the squad.
Both countries will be aiming to emerge victorious from this thrilling clash because the winner takes it all.
Prediction: Wales Women 1-2 England Women