Apart from the Olympics, where there is a bronze medal at stake, the third/fourth place match is an unloved fixture. No one wants to be in the ‘losers’ final’, especially not a team that has lost to an injury-time own goal in the semi-finals.
England, however, must somehow put Wednesday’s nightmare conclusion behind them and find a way to motivate themselves for tonight’s match in Edmonton. That the opposition is Germany may help, but it might make things worse.
Germany are not the team you want to play when deflated. They have won the last six European Championships, including the 2009 edition, when they thrashed England 6-2. In November, they spoiled the Wembley debut of England women by racing into a two-goal lead after 10 minutes. They added a third before appearing to ease up.
It would not be surprising if many of the players, after a wonderful but draining month away, simply wanted to go home now but, publicly at least, England manager Mark Sampson is as positive as ever.
“I won’t have to get the players up for the game,” he said. “They know we are playing Germany, the greatest team in the history of women’s football, in a World Cup match. For us this is a European final. It’s not a third/fourth-place play-off for us. This is our final. We are going to play the European champions, we’re going to try and leave this tournament as the European champions.”
“How many times in your life do you get the chance to be a genuine history maker? These players have embraced that challenge. They gave their all to try and make history, and they have, and I know for sure they are going to be desperate to do it again.”
Sampson could use the game to give match-time to some of those players who have spent most of the tournament on the sidelines, such as Lianne Sanderson, Eniola Aluko and goalkeeper Carly Telford, the only player in the 23 not to get on the pitch to date. However, he is more likely to pick a team he thinks can win. This is likely to be defensive in nature after Germany romped through an open England midfield at Wembley.
Germany are in this match after losing their semi-final to a United States team, which will start tomorrow’s final against England’s conquerors Japan as strong favourites.
It is a repeat of the 2011 final in Germany, won unexpectedly by Japan, albeit on penalties.
Throughout this tournament the US have added #scoretosettle to tweets and now they have their chance. After a slow start, they have steadily improved in Canada, unlike the Japanese who laboured against England, mentally and physically.Reuse content