The Women’s World Cup was to be the dawn of a new era for England. Mark Sampson, in his World Cup debut as coach, would present a team reformed under his philosophy of flexible selection.
Facing France in their opening match, though, was never going to offer the best opportunity for this to happen.
With the ghost of 2013’s 3-0 defeat at the European Championships lurking, Sampson’s changes were forced to subdue France rather than to tackle them head on.
This back footed approach allowed the opposition to knit their game together slowly, building to Eugenie Le Sommer's 45th international goal, scored from the edge of the box.
Now the French sticklers are out of the way with just one goal’s worth of damage suffered.
England's solid performance, founded on the relentless resilience of Claire Rafferty in midfield, will prove an invaluable springboard for greater focus going in to the next two group matches.
They will draw confidence, but not complacency, from the knowledge that both Mexico and Colombia are ranked below them, and should find the courage to take a few more risks.
From greater aggression will come greater entertainment. More than two million viewers sat down in front of their TV screens to watch England’s opener, and next time, the women must give them a reason to stay there.
England were able keep their cards close to their chest in the first match, so that Mexico won’t know how they plan to play in the next game.
The Mexican and Colombian sides, less slick than the experienced French, will allow England to produce the surprises that the fans are expecting.Reuse content