SHUT-OUT CRUCIAL TO ENGLAND CHANCES
KAREN BARDSLEY ON SHE BELIEVES CLASH
WHEN England face Germany at the SheBelieves Cup in America tonight, Karen Bardsley will aim to complete a hat-trick of clean sheets.
Manchester City keeper Bardsley’s shut-outs in England’s last two meetings with the Germans were crucial, first in the 1-0 bronze medal victory at last year’s World Cup and then in a hard-fought goalless draw in Duisburg in November.
And, after Thursday night’s 1-0 SheBelieves Cup defeat by the USA in Tampa Bay, a third successive clean sheet against the European champions in Nashville could prove a life-saver. Mark Sampson’s team are looking for a victory to keep alive their chances of winning the four-nation tournament.
Bardsley, who is set to win her 57th cap, said: “Those last two games against Germany were exciting for me and I was pleased with my performances in both.
“The first one, particularly, was special as it helped us to beat them for the very first time and, even more importantly, to win a World Cup bronze.
“The second one was a friendly but another very, very tough game, where we had to defend really well to keep them out.
“I was happy to play my part in another excellent team performance against them.
“We stuck to our game plan, did exactly what the gaffer asked of us and got the result we deserved, just as we had done at the World Cup.
“I will obviously be aiming for another clean sheet this time and it would be brilliant to make it three in row. If we can stop the Germans from scoring, then we’ll have every chance of winning.”
Victory is effectively England’s only hope of going on to lift the SheBelieves Cup as Germany have already picked up three points from their 1-0 victory over France on Thursday, to put them in pole position alongside the USA.
The host nation’s win over England came courtesy of an absolutely brilliant goal by substitute Crystal Dunn, a goal that Bardsley could do nothing about but led to a defeat which the keeper feels was extremely harsh.
“There’s no way we deserved to lose,” said 31-year-old Bardsley, who was born in California to English parents and still has an American accent.
“Credit where it’s due, the USA goal was fantastic,” she added. “I did my best, I went full tilt for it, but I saw the ball hit the top corner and thought, ‘damn it!’
“We deserved better from the game.
“We really put the US on the back foot, and I don’t think they expected that from us so we surprised them.
“We had a couple of scoring
opportunities but didn’t take them, and the very best teams in the world take those chances.
“We really limited the US, but they took advantage of that one opportunity and that was the difference.
“There were loads of positives to take from the match for us,
though – and we’ll take them into what’s going to be another really tough game, physically as well as tactically, against Germany.
“They are a great side and they always seemed to get the better of England in the past. But those last two results against them have really lifted us as a team. We’ll certainly go into the match feeling confident. Our goal when we came here was to win the tournament.
“What we want to do now is to beat the Germans and build some momentum going into our last game against France.”
POSITIVE: England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley and, inset, the team celebrate their World Cup bronze
LEADER: Mark Sampson