Portugal team news
Disappointing to not see Diana Silva start up front. An extremely experienced line up, Jessica Silva is probably the chief threat on Portugal’s right wing.
In case you missed this piece by Suzy Wrack, it’s well worth your time. Lucy Bronze was a few months from choosing Portugal over England for her international allegiance, back in the day, owing to her Portuguese father Joaquim. What a loss that would have been for England. Regardless, both sides of her family are on hand to watch her in action tonight.
A couple of live games this evening to catch you up on: Wales are lucky to still be drawing 0-0 with Belarus in their World Cup qualifier, with Anastasia Shcherbachenia missed a golden chance to put the hosts in front. It’s only six degrees in Borisov!
Elsewhere, England’s U19s have beaten Serbia 6-0, with Jessica Park netting a hat-trick! What a prospect the young 17-year-old Man City striker looks to be.
As ever, Steph Houghton captains England. It was her husband Stephen Darby’s birthday on Sunday, the day after England’s match against Brazil. You can still donate to the DarbyRimmer Foundation.
England team news
Beth England does indeed get a start in place of Jodie Taylor, young Man City keeper Ellie Roebuck gets a chance in goal instead of Mary Earps, who perhaps could have done better with Brazil’s opening goal on Saturday. Leah Williamson is expected to take her place in midfield, after impressing there for Arsenal this season, while Jill Scott’s ankle injury means Lucy Staniforth gets a chance to impress.
Much of the talk before this friendly has been about Phil Neville, and yep, it’s true, the Lionesses manager is probably facing his toughest spell since he took over in January 2018. Neville has said as much, admitting yesterday that he and his side are “in a downward trough” at the moment, after Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat to Brazil made it five matches without a win.
However, talk of a crisis is perhaps a tad premature: at the World Cup, England were a converted penalty away from taking the eventual champions, USA, into extra-time, while recent narrow defeats to Sweden and Norway should be regarded as a minor setback rather than a red flag. In all, it’s been a brilliant year for England with victory at the SheBelieves Cup and Lucy Bronze being voted the best player in Europe.
This friendly just outside Lisbon is the perfect opportunity for England to get back on track. Portugal are ranked 26 places below the Lionesses in the Fifa rankings but they are no mugs, losing this fixture by the odd goal in the 2017 Euros, a tournament in which they beat Scotland 2-1.
Portugal have a lovely blend of experience of youth and are certainly growing the game on home soil, with veterans of over 100 caps such as Carole Costa and Ana Borges returning from clubs like Atletico Madrid and Chelsea home to play in the Portuguese league. Up front, they’ve got pace to burn, watch out for Diana Silva in particular, who should give Steph Houghton plenty to think about at the back tonight.
For England, Neville has the option of starting Beth England, who impressed in her substitute appearance against Brazil, scoring a wonderful headed goal, and generally providing some cutting edge on an off day for Beth Mead and Jodie Taylor.
We’ll have team news in a mo.
Kick-off: 7pm BST.