The 2011 Womens World Cup: England 2-0 Japan

Coming into form at the right time is a critical aspect of tournament football, but it is one that occasionally feels as if it is overlooked. This evening, against a team that played some sublime football in their previous match, England put in a performance which suggested that they might just be doing exactly this and, while it would be premature to suggest that they could win the tournament, a comfortable win in their final group match this evening against Japan saw them continue the upward trajectory that they have followed since the start of the tournament. Of course, we could question how the commitment of the Japanese team by might have been affected by having already qualified with two wins from two matches, but any team can only play the team that they are up to play against. One of the criticisms previously levelled at the England coach Hope Powell is that she may carry a certain degree of tactical inflexibility – a criticism that might have been considered to have some legs after the drab draw with Mexico in their opening match – but this certainly didn’t seem to be the case this evening. Powell shuffled her pack this evening and, whilst Japan had previously been stylistically compared with Barcelona, the England midfield got in amongst their players tonight, stifled Japan’s pass and move technique and prevented...

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