World Cup: Ambitious India Knocks on the Door at the Top of the World

No fewer than 44 matches will be played during the Women’s World Cup in Amsterdam and Terrassa. Every day we pick out a striking showdown between two foreign teams. England and India saw a repeat of the opening games of the last World Cup, drawing 1-1.

Why is this duel special?
Both countries have medal ambitions at this World Cup. However, most eyes will be on India. The team of national coach Janneke Schopman wants to take the step to the absolute world top. With this, India wants to build on fourth place during the Olympic Games in Tokyo last year and third place recently in the Pro League.

Speaking of the Pro League. Wasn’t there something about the matches between England and India?
That’s right. There was a line through the two games in early April between India and England. Due to corona vicissitudes and injuries, the English federation decided not to let the ladies travel to Bhubaneswar. Subsequently, both sides failed to find other dates for the matches together with the FIH, after which it was decided after consultation to award the six available points to India.

India thus finished third in the Pro League. How did England do?
A lot less. The team finished the prestigious national competition in seventh place. There were considerable defeats against Argentina (two times 5-2), Germany (4-1) and Belgium (4-1). Only one point was taken against China in two matches and the last United States was only forced to its knees after shoot-outs. England once defeated the Orange Ladies. It was 3-1 in London, but the Netherlands did not play in the strongest line-up.

England also had to deal with a dropout just before the World Cup
Yes that’s right. Flora Peel had to put a line through her first World Cup participation just before the start due to an injury. The 25-year-old midfielder, who played for HDM last season, has since been replaced by reserve Darcy Bourne.

And India? Is it complete?
Not quite, because Rani Rampal is missing from the World Cup selection. The experienced fighter, described in India as the team’s talisman, was not fully fit after her hamstring injury. During the World Championship, Schopman does have Gurjit Kaur, World Player of the Year 2020-2021, Sharmila Devi, Talent of the Year 2020-2021, Savita, Goalkeeper of the Year 2020-2021, and Lalremsiami, Talent of the Year in 2019.

How well do the two countries know each other?
Both teams did not play against each other in the Pro League this season. The last time India and England met was four years ago at the World Cup in London. In the group stage, the match ended undecided: 1-1. Earlier that year, England won bronze at the Commonwealth Games after beating India 6-0. In total, the England squad won three head-to-head meetings, India only one. Three confrontations ended in a draw. At the World Cup, India and England met not only in 2018, but also in 2006 and 1998.

Who should we put our money on?
That’s a tricky one. This match could really go either way. Given the recent results in the Pro League, India clearly has an edge, but in matches where something is at stake, England or Great Britain are often the dominant party. But this time let’s take a gamble and bet our money on India.

Is there still an account open?
Sure. India lost the battle for the Olympic bronze last year 4-3 to Great Britain after a 3-2 lead. Yes, it is true that the opponent is now called England, but twelve players from Team GB are part of the English World Cup selection.

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