World Cup Semi 'Massive Opportunity' For England To Remove USWNT Aura - White

Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Faye White admits the United States used to have an aura of invincibility, but the former England captain believes the Lionesses can remove a mental barrier by beating them in the Women's World Cup semi-finals.

Jill Ellis' defending champions will play their eighth straight last-four game at a World Cup on Tuesday against an England side hoping to go one step further after semi-final exits at each of the last two major tournaments.

The last time the two met in a World Cup knockout clash was in 2007, when White skippered an England team that were beaten 3-0.

And while the 90-cap international acknowledged USA had a certain mystique back then, she insists Phil Neville's Lionesses have nothing to fear in Lyon.

"They did have that aura – they are the best team in the world, they proved it at World Cups, Olympics as well, they are constantly delivering on the biggest stage," White told Omnisport.

"Now we are getting closer in terms of structure and finance. This game is a massive opportunity. It is the first time that [England] don't feel like underdogs. We feel very much on a par.

"It's that mental side; they had the edge. We just need that win. This could change the perception of the game and take it on another level back home if we can get that result."

England reached the semi-finals in 2015 too but the team four years on feels like a different proposition, with Neville's side having scored more goals, conceded fewer and having had a much large percentage of possession.

Former Manchester United player Neville was a surprise hire in 2018 given he had never held a coaching role in the women's game, but White can see his squad have fully bought into his methodology.

"You would with a manager that’s played where he has and with the manager [Alex Ferguson] he has worked under," White, speaking on behalf of Greene King, added.

"I would have felt a huge amount of excitement that he was coming in and being able to draw off his experiences, what better way to take his knowledge?

"He's fully immersed himself in the women's game and they play with their hearts."

Neville has also got the best out of Lucy Bronze, calling the right-back "the best player in the world" after her display against Norway in the last eight.

Bronze said she did not consider herself worthy of such a billing, though White thinks she belongs on the shortlist for this year's Ballon d'Or.

"You always get strikers and midfielders getting the limelight but for a right-back to affect a team so much, it's unbelievable," White said.

"She has that Roberto Carlos stature that he had within the men's game. She's so assured and drives a team forward in an attacking sense. Without question she should have that nomination."