England Women’s manager Phil Neville wants his side to dominate world football while he is in charge and believes that Manchester City and Chelsea could kick off that trend in the Champions League this season.
The two WSL 1 outfits both secured their places in the semi-finals of the Champions League last month, to become the first two English sides to be represented at that stage of the tournament at the same time.
Neville is hoping that Chelsea and Manchester City, the top-two teams in English women’s football, can showcase the great strides that are being taken within the country to help the sport grow.
The English sides do face an almighty challenge in the final four though, as Chelsea come up against German Champions Wolfsburg, while Manchester City have the daunting prospect of taking on Lyon, who have won 11 French titles in a row and are back-to-back reigning European champions.
When looking forward to the semi-final ties later this month, Neville said:
“Maybe two years ago with City playing Lyon, Wolfsburg playing Chelsea, you’d have probably said, ‘You know what, they’re both going to go out.
“Do you know what? It wouldn’t surprise me if we have an all-England final. And that’s what we need because the WSL is getting better and better and the best players are now coming to the WSL. They are big games those semi-finals and hopefully our girls can do themselves proud.
Neville was present at Lyon’s quarter-final match last month in Barcelona, where he saw two of his England stars, Toni Duggan and Lucy Bronze, go head-to-head for a place in the final four. The pair both left Manchester City last summer, with Duggan joining the Catalonians and Bronze moving to the French giants, Lyon.
When talking about the game, Neville was delighted with his players’ performances, as he said:
“I was sat with the Barcelona women’s president, we had the Lyon president there as well. And you know what? Their best two players are Lucy Bronze and Toni Duggan.”
Neville has had the chance to work with his Lionesses over the last week, as they faced Wales and Bosnia and Herzegovina in World Cup qualifiers during the international break.
The first of the two clashes left England slightly disappointed with themselves after Wales held them to a 0-0 draw. Although the result wasn’t what Neville’s side was looking for, the crowd of over 25,000 was the second highest attendance recorded for a European qualifying match – a clear sign of how the women’s game is progressing forwards.
The result on Friday night meant that nothing other than a victory would be enough for England in Bosnia yesterday afternoon. Fortunately for the Lionesses, despite a below-par first-half performance, they managed to score two goals after half-time to secure a 2-0 win and go two points clear of Wales at the top of their World Cup qualifying group.
England’s Alex Greenwood saw red early in the second-half before Toni Duggan converted from close-range. The Bosnian captain, Amira Spahic, then suffered the same fate as Greenwood when she was given a second yellow card for a shirt pull. Jodie Taylor later scored an injury-time penalty, to ensure that Phil Neville and his Lionesses left with all three points.