Rachel Yankey: Taylor can fire England past France and into the semi-finals

Taylor (above) has four goals at the Euros
Taylor (above) has four goals at the Euros
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Rachel Yankey discusses what we learned from the group stages and explains why she believes England will have too much for France in their quarter-final clash...

"Taylor doesn't need a lot of opportunities to get the ball on target. She's got four goals now, so she's going to want to go on and get the golden boot."

The group stages unearthed some unexpected gems

Austria topping group C was a huge shock to everyone. Nobody expected that to happen, especially against a strong French side who people were really backing to progress in the tournament. England may well feel lucky by dodging Austria, as Dominik Thalhammer's side are looking really strong and confident at the moment. They're not naturally technical like France but they've got loads of confidence going into the knock out stages.

The Swiss were set up really well in their matches which is testament to the work of their coach Martina Voss. Had it not been for a goalkeeping mistake, they would have gone through against France. They were set up well to counter-attack and had obviously done their homework on France. Voss got her tactics spot on.

The hosts, Holland, have been really strong in Group A and have been playing good football. It's apparent that they would be dangerous against any team in attack, the question is whether they can stand up defensively to the better teams. On the flip side, we certainly haven't seen the best of Germany, they always seem to start slowly but it wouldn't be wise to write them off.

There has been an outstanding team so far. England in the first game were fantastic, they were attacking and confident, they then showed their resilience against Spain, but the Portugal match was very much a case of getting the job done.

A fascinating set of quarter-final clashes

There are some very interesting quarter-final match-ups. Germany play Denmark and on paper you would say that the Germans will win, but Denmark have kicked off their campaign in great form and can score a lot of goals so that will be a finely balanced game. Germany have pedigree in major tournaments, especially if it goes to penalties, so for that reason they'd be favourites at that moment.

A surprisingly quiet Spain will take on the high flying Austrians on Sunday evening. The Spanish had a shaky start to the tournament, but they are through and the way they play football makes you think they'd play Austria off the park. However, Austria have come into this tournament very resilient and able to fight off some tough opposition and the Spanish have shown they can't always break down teams, so I think Austria could be tough for them.

It would be good to see the host country, the Netherlands, progress as that will bring in the crowds for the later fixtures. They have a tough task against Sweden but I think they could do it after a 100% record in the group, beating Norway and Denmark without conceding.

Lionesses can go roaring on into the semi-finals

Hopefully England won't be overconfident ahead of their clash against France as the French will be pumped up and that will give them the boost they need in this tournament. They've played good football regardless of their form in the tournament, they're very attacking and dangerous against any team on their day. So far they've been uncharacteristically sloppy, so from the first whistle England need to make sure that they don't allow France to build confidence or get into their stride.

I wouldn't worry about the fact we haven't beaten France since 1974 - history is there to be broken.

Jodie Taylor has been very clinical in front of goal and, if the team can create the chances for her, she's always a willing runner. She doesn't need a lot of opportunities to get the ball on target. She's got four goals now, so she's going to want to go on and get the golden boot.

England have looked like real contenders in this tournament. Portugal was a difficult game, but it will have certainly been a boost for the squad as the strikers are now all off the mark and when you make as many changes as Sampson did, it's hard to keep all your rhythm. Although players have to be kept fresh, the additional players who featured weren't 100% match fit. Therefore it wasn't a surprise that the first half was slow. The question is will changes impact the rhythm of the England side and can they rekindle their earlier deadly form?

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