Betting.Betfair

Rachel Yankey: Lionesses start with a roar - now bring on the Spanish!

Jodie Taylor (right) enjoyed a hat-trick in the first fixture and is a Golden Boot candidate
Join today View market

All the teams have played at the Women's European Championships and Rachel Yankey has enjoyed what she's seen so far especially England, who destroyed Scotland and now face group rivals Spain. Read Rachel's thoughts on that fixture here...


"The Lionesses had to be patient waiting for their first game but have gone out and put in a dominant performance and that's a very strong message to all the other teams. Now, it's just about making sure that they continue to grow in confidence and really focus on the next game."

The first week is nearly over and as a whole the tournament has been fantastic and the standard of play has been really impressive. I watched the Germany v Sweden game and the way that both teams passed the ball, the tempo of the passing and their accuracy was on a different level to most other sides in the competition.

There have also been some surprise packages in the group stages. I thought Switzerland would beat Austria, but the Austrians looked very strong. With Nina Burger up front they've always got an opportunity to score and they can certainly test France. I would have written off their qualification chances before the tournament, but after seeing the first game they could actually top the group.

Russia also surprised me. I knew they were going to be physically strong, but they really made Italy work and can see them causing an upset.


Everyone impressed for England on golden night against Scotland


England's 6-0 trouncing of Scotland was the perfect start to the tournament. They have the best goal difference so far and are on track to pip the Spanish to the top of the group. No disrespect to Scotland or Portugal but Spain and England are in a different league, possibly down to resources and the pool of players they can pick from.

The only problem would be if Spain or England get a little complacent. But England seem hungry so I can't see that happening and they can definitely top the group. The Lionesses had to be patient waiting for their first game but have gone out and put in a dominant performance and that's a very strong message to all the other teams. Now, it's just about making sure that they continue to grow in confidence and really focus on the next game.

Jodie Taylor stood out for England against the Scots. She could well be Golden Boot material in this tournament. Getting a hat-trick so early on at a tournament is impressive - it's difficult to score one goal in a tournament, so to get three puts her ahead of the rest of the pack. She's very natural in front of goal and having played in the same team as her, she's a very instinctive striker. You put Jodie in front of goal and nine times out of 10 she's going to score. It doesn't matter that Scotland didn't perform. Some of the chances she had, she would've buried against any team. Jodie won't be scared of any team and knows she can rely on her teammates to keep delivering her chances.

Jill Scott also deserves a glowing report after the opening fixture. Her link-up play was great, people who are tall often get labeled as simply being a 'target', but she's very clever with her feet. Her partnership with Toni Duggan - loads of short, sharp passes in and around the box - showed the level of these players.

As an all-round team performance, you wouldn't say anyone had a bad game. Ellen White's movement to create space was great; same with Fran Kirby's movement to open up spaces, allowing others onto the ball. The back four wasn't really tested but if the opposition had a fast forward it might have stretched them.


England can edge key encounter with Spain


Next up for England is the group's other well established side, Spain at 19:45 on Sunday. I think Spain's first test against Portugal was similar to that faced by England. They looked far superior, their possession and the way they play football is very exciting and their link-up play and technical skills are very good. They didn't get as many goals as England, but this Spanish team looks very good.

Victoria Losada impressed me. Her goal was amazing, I played with her at Arsenal and we've seen her do amazing things in training, she really is a fantastic player. England v Spain will be a very good game with both teams desperate to win to avoid a probable group winners France in the next round. England will dominate in fitness in the latter stages but it will be close. I'm predicting a 2-1 win for England, but it won't be a run-away win by any means.

All eyes will be on Breda's 'Rat Verlegh Stadion' come Sunday evening, hopefully the Lionesses can deliver another statement performance to leave themselves in the Group D driving seat.


Shelley can keep the Scottish moving up


It may sound funny to say it after a 6-0 defeat, but the future is bright for Scotland. They have now played at a major tournament while still having some semi-professional players in the squad and they have announced that Shelley Kerr will be confirmed as the coach after this summer's tournament.

The players that Shelley is inheriting have now got vital tournament experience and Shelley will know most of these players and how to get the best out of them having worked in the Youth system in Scotland. There are now standards to be met for Scottish Women's football and I would hope that Shelley will also push on and talk to her Governing body to get more funding to help support the team's growth.


* * *


Betfair is looking to address the gender disparity within football coaching and are looking for female coaches to take part. If you or anyone you know might be interested, check out FairerGame.com


Join today View market
More Rachel Yankey