England fearful of France in World Cup quarter-final

England doesn't have history on its side ahead of its quarter-final against France at the Women's World Cup on Saturday.
French playmaker Louisa Necib has been one of the outstanding players of the tournament thus far. (Friedemann Vogel/Bongarts/Getty Images)

England doesn't have history on its side ahead of its quarter-final against France at the Women's World Cup on Saturday.

It is almost 37 years since England last managed to defeat the French, a 2-0 win in Wimbledon, with "Les Bleus" going on to win five of their next 10 meetings.

On both previous occasions England reached the Women's World Cup wuarter-finals, it was defeated 3-0 — by Germany in 1995 and the United States in 2007.

France, meanwhile, is playing in its first quarter-final.

The winner of the clash in Leverkusen will meet either Brazil or the U.S. in Moenchengladbach in Wednesday's semifinals.

France goalkeeper Berangere Sapowicz is suspended for the game after being sent off in the 4-2 defeat to Germany. The more experienced Celine Deville will start in her place.

For England, coach Hope Powell has concerns over the fitness of captain Faye White — who sat out the 2-0 win over Japan with a knee injury — but said her side has enough quality to compensate.

"The players that came in against Japan did a fantastic job, I know there is a depth to our squad, so wait and see what happens," she said.

Among those to impress was Ellen White who was delighted to score in the impressive win over Japan.

"To beat Japan definitely gives us more confidence going into the quarter-finals. We are really proud, so hopefully we can be positive and take this into the next game," she said.

France can call on 10 members of the Champions League-winning Lyon side that beat an Arsenal team containing England players White, Rachel Yankey, Ellen White and Stephanie Houghton.

"It will be a very tough game and the games have always been very tough. We will have to be on our game to get through and we'll be prepared and give it our best shot," Powell told FATV.

"When you have only a couple of days you need to focus upon your game plan, we need to appreciate what we're up against and make sure to exploit Frances weaknesses and we will train towards that."

France coach Bruno Bini took exception when Germany coach Silvia Neid failed to name France among the seven teams that could win the World Cup.

"She will have to change that," he said before the tournament started.

France then destroyed Canada 4-0 before bringing out the best of Germany. Now Bini is aiming to finish no lower than second.

"We're still in the running for second place. If we can win our quarter-final, and we want to win it, we'll be one of three teams still in contention for second place," he said.

Montpellier striker Marie-Laure Delie, 23, has scored 23 goals in 23 appearances for France, and Bini is confident she can add to her goals tally on Saturday.

"Marie is simply unbelievable," he said.

Delie scored the tournament's first goal against Nigeria, and added another after coming on as a substitute against Germany.

Laura Georges, who also scored in the loss to Germany, is aware of the difficulty of the task at hand against England.

"They're strong in all areas," the defender told L'Equipe. "If we manage to cut out their passes, it will be very good, but our forwards also have a role to play with their speed."

Despite the lack of obvious weaknesses, England will be hoping the weight of history does not take its toll.