England defender Sophie Bradley is eagerly awaiting the match-up against World Cup holders
England v Japan
A Women's International
1.45pm, Wednesday 26 June 2013
Pirelli Stadium, Burton Albion FC
Live on FATV
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Sophie Bradley is geared up for another key meeting against Japan.
Two years ago, the England defender made her first World Cup start against the eventual tournament winners and helped her side achieve an impressive 2-0 win.
Bradley and Co. face the Japanese again on Wednesday in their final home match before next month’s European Championship Finals.
And it is a game that will bring back fond memories for the 23-year-old who was forced to sit out the U20 World Cup in Chile in 2008 after damaging two ankle ligaments on the eve of the tournament.
Bradley said: “Playing against Japan in the World Cup is definitely one of the highlights of my career so far, especially because of what happened in Chile.
“I had come off the bench against Mexico in our first group game but the Japan game was my first start at a World Cup and it was incredible.
“Missing the whole tournament in 2008 really spurred me on because it made me even more determined to play in a World Cup and luckily I managed to achieve that in Germany.
“I was dead nervous before the Japan game, but once it started I was fine. It was a brilliant game and occasion to have been a part of. We played really well and got the win which meant we topped the group.”
Norio Sasaki’s charges recovered well and went on to be crowned world champions. They followed that success up with a silver medal at the London Olympics a year later, cementing their place as one of the leading nations in women’s football.
Having seen Japan at close quarters Bradley knows just how good they are and believes this week’s encounter at Burton Albion will act as a barometer ahead of the Euros.
She added: “It will be a really good test ahead of our first game in Sweden and that’s obviously why Hope [Powell, England’s National Coach] has arranged the game.
“We played against Canada in April and they are two completely different teams in terms of their styles of play so it’s good to get that experience before such a big tournament.
“If we can put in a good performance on Wednesday that will be massive for us going into the Euros in terms of the confidence it will give us.
“Everyone seems relaxed and excited for the Euros to begin. You have got to be excited. It’s a massive tournament and I think everyone is really looking forward to it.”
England's Euro 2013 Finals campaign gets underway on Friday 12 July when they face Spain. Russia are next up on Monday 15 July before the group stage is rounded off with a match against a rapidly improving France side on Thursday 18 July.
All of England's group matches are being held in Linköping and every match will be broadcast live on BBC.
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