DOETINCHEM, Netherlands: A confident England will seek to extend their perfect record at the women’s Euro against France while Spain will take on newcomers Austria on the second day of quarterfinals on Sunday (Monday in Manila).
“We go into the game on a great run of form,” said England coach Mark Sampson, whose side thrashed Scotland 6-0, sank Spain 2-0 in a rain-drenched game, and edged Portugal 2-1 with a reserve team in the group phase.
“We feel we can find solutions to make the outcome an England win,” added the 34-year-old Welshman who took over in 2013.
“If you look at the teams left in this tournament, it’s only France we haven’t beaten in the last three and a half years. I have every confidence England are capable of getting to another big semi-final.”
France beat Iceland and drew with Austria and Switzerland to advance from the second spot behind tournament surprise Austria.
In the quarterfinal in Deventer, they will miss captain Wendie Renard, who has picked up two yellow cards.
“I’m happy for England if they are confident – but I am too,” said France midfielder Camille Abily.
“I trust my team, and I hope it is us that are talking at the end of the game.
“We won’t change how we play. We can play a passing game but also a more direct game and we will have to vary how we play,” added the Lyon stalwart.
Austria topped Group C after beating Iceland and Switzerland and a draw with France, but despite their impressive record so far, they will enter their quarterfinal against Spain in Tilburg as underdogs.
“It will be a hard challenge for us, we’ll try to stay very calm and that’s what makes our team special,” said Austrian coach Dominik Thalhammer.
“First you have to understand that Spain want to dominate ball possession and you have to deal with the fact you won’t have a great deal of the ball.”
“But that’s good for us – one of our strengths is playing without the ball and counter attacking.”
“We could be fresher and more rested as we have an extra day’s rest which might be an advantage to us,” added Thalhammer.
His Spanish counterpart Jorge Vilda said he expected a tough game against the “physically strong side” ranked 24th in the world, against Spain’s 13th spot.
“We aren’t looking at the ranking at all. They’re a great team and they’ll make us work hard tomorrow, that’s for sure.”
Spain beat Portugal 2-0 and lost to England and Scotland without scoring in Group D, but they advanced on goal difference from their games with Portugal and Scotland.
“The way the girls have played has been good but we’ve lacked a clinical finish. The players know this,” said Vilda, adding however that Spain will “look to play our game.”