SHUT-OUT CRU­CIAL TO ENG­LAND CHANCES

KAREN BARD­S­LEY ON SHE BE­LIEVES CLASH

The Football League Paper - - WOMEN'S FOOTBALL WEEKLY - By Tony Leighton

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.

De­served

“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.

Phys­i­cal

“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.”

PIC­TURE: The FA

POS­I­TIVE: Eng­land goal­keeper Karen Bard­s­ley and, in­set, the team cel­e­brate their World Cup bronze

LEADER: Mark Samp­son

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