Interview

Women’s World Cup: Claire Rafferty reflects on England’s opening game and looks ahead

Ex-Chelsea and England international Claire Rafferty discussed England’s most recent performance against Scotland and what they need to improve on to reach the final stages of the Women’s World Cup…

Tonight Phil Neville’s England team will meet Argentina in the hope of maintaining their winning start in Group D, and a victory would see them go through to the knockout stages with one game remaining.

While England are ranked third in the world and named among the favourites of the tournament, their opening match was a game of two halves when they hung on to beat Scotland 2-1.

Rafferty gave the official Chelsea website an overview of her thoughts on the England v Scotland clash and said: ‘I think there was so much emotion around the Scotland game that it was weighing quite heavy on them and you could see that, they looked a little bit exhausted from it all especially in the second half.

‘Speaking from experience, when that much pressure is on you, you don’t really enjoy it, and also Scotland is such a grudge match so they’ll be pleased to get that out the way.’

The Chelsea legend believes that the Lionesses can go on and win the World Cup for the first time in their history, but highlighted the key areas for improvement.

‘I think England need to manage games a little bit better; I think they need to get used to being dominant in possession and know when to stay concentrated against the better teams.

‘They have got some world class players, and if they’re all playing well at the same time, there’s no reason why they can’t go on and win this World Cup, I really do believe that.

‘I know it sounds cliché but it is just about taking one game at a time, it depends who they draw,' she said.

'I think just get the best out the key players, a lot of them are Chelsea ones and so I think that is a compliment to Chelsea.'

The match against Argentina kicks off at 8pm (BST) and takes place in Stade Océane, which is situated in France’s Normandy region in Le Harve.

Erin Cuthbert’s Scotland are also in action today against Japan with the earlier kick-off of 2pm (BST) in Rennes. The Scots will feel confident that the three points are there for the taking, especially after their promising second-half display against England. However Japan, finalists in the last two tournaments and champions of 2011, will also look for their first win after they surprisingly drew 0-0 against Argentina in their opener.

Both matches can be watched live via BBC One and the BBC Sport website. Coverage of Japan v Scotland will be shown live from 1.30pm and England v Argentina will begin from 7.30pm.
 

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