England v Sweden: Ellen White and England can come out on top

Ellen White
Ellen White is aiming for the Golden Boot

Can England come away finishing on the podium? Tim Stillman fancies the Lionesses to overcome a stubborn Sweden side to take the bronze medal...

"If there is one England player who will be motivated for this match, it will be Lionesses forward Ellen White, who is tied with Alex Morgan for the Golden Boot. White could become only the second player in Women’s World Cup history to score in six consecutive appearances, after USA’s Carli Lloyd who achieved it earlier this tournament."

England v Sweden
Saturday 6 July, 16:00
BBC Two and BBCi

Bronze medal games are usually decided by motivation

When England played their bronze medal match at the 2015 World Cup in Canada, they had the bit between their teeth, claiming a 1-0 victory over Germany. The squad were all smiles post-match, pictured biting into their medals. On this occasion, a third-place playoff game feels like more of a millstone for England, having tasted defeat at the semi-final stage in three consecutive tournaments now.

Sweden were silver medallists at the most recent Olympic games and are also likely to regard this match as something of a chore.

In short, both teams are equally unhappy to be there.

Third place matches are often decided by motivation- as was the case in 2015 when England were far more enthused than Germany. Many of this Sweden squad took the bronze medal in 2011 too. It's difficult to predict which team will relish this game the most.

Both teams are likely to make some changes. Phil Neville may be tempted to draft in players like Leah Williamson to replace the suspended Millie Bright, he may also call upon Jade Moore and Karen Carney and Mary Earps could keep goal. For their part, Sweden will be without Kosovare Asllani, who went off with concussion during Sweden's extra-time defeat to Netherlands.

Can Ellen White take the Golden Boot?

Nilla Fischer came into the semi-final nursing an injury and might not be risked. Fischer is a big part of what makes Sweden's defence so formidable.

If there is one England player who will be motivated for this match, it will be Lionesses forward Ellen White, who is tied with Alex Morgan for the Golden Boot. White could become only the second player in Women's World Cup history to score in six consecutive appearances, after USA's Carli Lloyd who achieved it earlier this tournament. Ellen to score 1st & England to win 3-0 or 3-1 has been odds boosted from 22/1 out to 33/1.

Norway-Sweden-Fischer-1280.jpg

Sweden are usually formidable defensively, but it remains to be seen whether they can draw on the mental and physical resources to erect a strong barrier in front of their goal on this occasion. Not least because the Swedes went to extra-time on Wednesday evening, 24 hours after England's defeat to the US.

Will Sweden have the energy to sit back and play on the counter?

Were this a game of greater consequence, I think it would be a cagey encounter, as Sweden's semi-final against Netherlands proved to be. Neither side will want extra-time here and Phil Neville has already shown a non-negotiable appetite for attacking football during the World Cup. I think this match will finish inside the 90 minutes and I fancy England to be a little sharper than Sweden.

Neville has also rotated the team regularly, so changes are less likely to upset the Lionesses' rhythm. Sweden are more likely to feel the effects of line-up alterations and Asllani represents a big loss for their counter-attacking game. She is the most fouled player at the tournament (18) and her ability to draw free-kicks has been an effective way of relieving pressure on the defence.

However, I expect Stina Blackstenius to give the England defence a difficult time and 9/1 for her to open the scoring is generous. England to win and both teams to score is a decent shout at 5/2 too. Sweden did come from behind to beat Germany in the quarter-final and they are 13/2 to repeat the trick on this occasion. I expect the game to start slowly but gradually become stretched as players tire. My recommended bet is for England to win 2-1 at 13/2.

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