Fans are arriving in Le Havre as historic rivals England and Argentina prepare to face off in the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Meetings between the two nations in the men’s game have thrown up a number of memorable – and controversial – moments over the years, but Phil Neville says the enmity that exists in the men’s game will not have any bearing on tonight’s match.
However, the England coach is expecting a real battle against the South Americans, who surprised many observers when they held Japan to a goalless draw in their opening match.
Neville told a press conference: ‘They haven’t got the history and the rivalry on the women’s side that the men have got.
Pictured: Fans at Stade Oceane in Le Havre, France, ahead of England’s game against Argentina
England fans in the stands ahead of kick off England v Argentina, FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019
England fans pose for a picture outside the stadium prior to the FIFA Women’s World Cup, Group D match
‘It would be silly for me to start talking about Michael Owen’s goal (World Cup 1998), the David Beckham sending-off (in the same game) or the ”Hand of God” goal (by Diego Maradona in World Cup 1986) because it actually doesn’t make reference to the history or rivalry on our side.
‘This is quite new, a game we haven’t played that often. This is a great footballing nation we are playing, a very proud nation.
‘We are playing against a team with great history and there are parallels with both, men’s and women’s football. There are similarities in the way they play.
‘They have grown up playing on the streets, fighting for everything. This is what this Argentina team has got.’
Neville is ‘under no illusions’ as to the test his side face at Le Havre’s Stade Oceane.
England fans enjoy the pre-match atmosphere prior to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup France group D match
England women’s coach Phil Neville says the enmity that exists between in the men’s game will not have any bearing on tonight’s match (pictured: A fan enjoying the pre-match atmosphere in Le Havre)
Neville, who was disappointed with a short spell of his side’s opening win against Scotland, said: ‘It (Argentina’s draw with Japan) didn’t really surprise me.
‘The games that we’ve studied Argentina we don’t think we’ve seen them as organised and determined as they were against Japan.
‘We’re under no illusions as to how tough this game will be. Man-to-man marking, aggressive and we need to show the same quality we did against Scotland to get a result.’
When asked how his attackers will approach the game, Neville added: ‘We were planning to play against a team sitting back and defending a bit deeper than Scotland.
An England fan on the way to the stadium prior to the FIFA Women’s World Cup match
England’s Toni Duggan reacts on the pitch before the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 Group D match
‘We must make sure our players in the final third are relaxed and free to express themselves,’ Neville said (pictured: England’s Jodie Taylor)
‘They know they will be playing in tight spaces, limited room, and we’ve worked hard on our final third play in the last few days.
‘They are strong defensively and it’s up to us to break that defence down. We know we must defend well as well – their two best players are attacking players.
‘We must make sure our players in the final third are relaxed and free to express themselves.’
Karen Bardsley has stressed there is no danger of England underestimating Argentina when the sides meet in Le Havre.
The Lionesses’ second Group D match at the Women’s World Cup sees them take on a side 37th in the world rankings.
But the South Americans held 2015 runners-up Japan to a 0-0 draw in their opener on Monday, securing their first ever point at a finals in their third campaign.
England goalkeeper Bardsley said: ‘I think everyone in this tournament is here on merit and we definitely do not underestimate any team.
Lucy Staniforth, Jodie Taylor and Beth Mead of England walk on the pitch prior to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup France group D match
Philip Neville, Head Coach of England arrives at the stadium. Neville is ‘under no illusions’ as to the test his side face at Le Havre’s Stade Oceane
‘I think we’re very much prepared for anything that could happen. We have to treat it as if we are going to play a top nation. We have to be extremely respectful of what could potentially happen.
‘They have a striker who used to play for Lyon (Sole Jaimes). By far, we can’t underestimate these players.
‘There’s no doubt they are a good team, especially when you can keep a team like Japan at 0-0.’
Argentina are ranked three places below Thailand, who were thrashed 13-0 by defending champions United States on Tuesday, the biggest win in the history of the tournament.
England fans pose for a picture outside the stadium prior to the FIFA Women’s World Cup, Group D match at Stade Oceane
Team Argentina poses prior to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup France group D match between Argentina and Japan at Parc des Princes stadium on June 10, 2019
Asked for her thoughts on whether the game had been a good or bad advert for women’s football, California-born Bardsley said: ‘I think in terms of the ruthlessness, fair play. You want to score goals, everyone wants to score in a World Cup. I’m not going to knock them for doing that.
‘I do think that the two teams that played yesterday, there’s just a massive disparity between the two.
‘You have to look at where Thailand are in their development, at their history and where they are in terms of how long people have been playing – are they professional, how many players are playing abroad?
‘And you look at the US team and how long they have been playing professionally and their history. There’s no way there can be parity between the two.
‘In terms of ruthlessness, I wouldn’t expect anything less from the US, just to bang in goals.
‘And, if anything, if I’m going to be honest it’s probably a good thing that it happened because now we understand there needs to be an improvement here, or perhaps the Thai federation will invest a bit more to grow the team. That’s the way I choose to look at it, as an opportunity to do better.’