TheFA.com's Glenn Lavery with his second Euro blog from inside the England Women's camp
England never do things the easy way.
Having been beaten by Spain in their Euro 2013 opener, they now need a result against Russia on Monday to preserve their hopes of qualifying for the quarter finals. And they know only too well that they have been here before.
Four years ago in Finland it was exactly the same scenario. They lost their first group game, against Italy, and then had to beat Russia three days later to stay alive. And despite going 2-0 down inside the first 22 minutes, they managed to turn things around by half-time and held on for victory.
Even in qualifying for this tournament they left themselves with an uphill battle by letting a two-goal lead slip in Serbia in the opening game. So no-one is overly concerned just yet. What most irks the players is the fact they know they can perform – and have performed – better. They just didn’t show what they are capable of on Friday. In recent times they have beaten reigning World Cup holders Japan, FIFA’s top ranked side USA and Sweden, consistently one of the strongest nations in women’s football. They have certainly got it within them to produce big performances.
The captain, Casey Stoney, has called for calm and is confident her team-mates can kick start their tournament against the Russians, who lost to France in their first game.
At training on Saturday, the squad broke into two groups, those that started against Spain and those that didn’t. The starting eleven had a lighter session revolving around recovery, stretching etc., while the substitutes had what is known as a ‘blow out’, a variety of intense drills and small-sided matches to keep them up to speed. Coupled with the dreaded ice baths and the odd massage, the 23 players are ready to go again.
There was only one session on Sunday at the Linköping Arena, as is standard practice on ‘matchday minus one’.
The players were understandably down after the game on Friday night, but the mood was far better come Sunday evening. A frank and honest discussion was had among the 23 over the weekend and they know where they can improve.
Performances in training over the last two weeks have been sharp and everyone has been focused on the job in hand. Now it’s just about translating those performances onto the pitch.