Euro 2017: England ‘fearless’ ahead of France quarter-final showdown
Casey Stoney backs England’s history makers to continue breaking the mould at Euro 2017 and beat arch-rivals France tonight to book a semi-final spot.
After strolling through Group D in the Netherlands, England face a major test of their title-winning credentials against a side they have not beaten since 1974 and lost to just four months ago.
Even though France limped through their group, head coach Olivier Echouafni has cranked up the pressure on the Lionesses – claiming his side are the last team England want to face because of their woeful record.
But centre-back Stoney, who is finally fit after missing the first two games with a hamstring strain, says England, for the first time in her international career, are a better team than France and will make even more history in Deventer.
“Everything we do at this tournament, we re-write history. Six goals in the opening game, quickest goal in the tournament, so why not take another step?” the 35-year-old said.
“Why not re-write history again to reach the semi-finals? We have to beat the best teams to win this tournament, so that is what we want to do tonight.
“I look at our squad and I look at their squad, and I would much rather be in my England team than there French one. There are not many times I have said that.
“We know the history of the two teams and we know the results. But I have to say what has changed is the mentality of this team and the belief we now have got going into this game.
“I have been involved in this team for a long time but I have no fear going into this game and absolute belief that we can win this game and get over the line into the semi-finals.”
England blitzed Scotland 6-0 in their opening game before digging deep to see off a talented Spain side 2-0 and completing Group D with a 2-1 success against Portugal.
With a forward line pack with goals, a midfield carving out chances and a defence as mean as any around, there is momentum behind England’s charge.
Boss Mark Sampson made ten changes for the clash with Portugal and is expected to restore many of the players who downed Spain last week, which would mean a recall for tournament top scorer Jodie Taylor.
And Sampson believes his team don’t even need to play at their best to see off France and march into the last four.
“The nice feeling is that we don’t have to be at our very best to win- if we are then there is no question in my mind we will win comfortably,” he said.
“If we are not, this team has the capacity to find a way to win in difficult circumstance.”
VIDEO: Interview with Casey Stoney and Mark Sampson on France quarter-final
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