x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Old foes raring to go in Women's World Cup

France and England in 13th meeting, as World Cup winner Prinz likely to stay on the bench as Germany take on Japan.

A place in the Women's World Cup semi-finals is at stake when old rivals France and England collide on Saturday.

England advanced as Group B winners while the French finished second in Group A after losing to two-time champions and hosts Germany. Their quarter-final clash in Leverkusen is the 13th between the two European sides, and easily the most significant.

Les Bleus have the edge with five victories to England's two, in addition to five draws, including their last three meetings.

The veteran France captain Sandrine Soubeyrand, 37, said they would be trying to put emotion to one side against their cross-channel neighbours. "We know we have to win. It's a team we've played regularly for a long time, but we haven't played them for a while. They're a team on the rise like us."

England, No 10 in the world, have reached the quarter-finals for the third time but for the French, ranked seventh by Fifa, it is a first.

France have been hit by the one-match suspension of the goalkeeper Berangere Sapowicz, with Celine Deville stepping in for the first time in 43 internationals.

"She's been in the France team for years. I have no worries," said France coach Bruno Bini.

The Arsenal striker Ellen White scored her first World Cup goal in England's surprise 2-0 group win against Japan, and she said the team had been boosted by beating the Asian side. "To beat Japan definitely gives us more confidence … We're really proud, so hopefully we can be positive and take this into the next game."

England defeated the United States and Sweden in warm-up matches earlier this year, and Anita Asante, the midfielder, said England should not fear anyone.

"Our confidence and self-belief improved, and that has been evident in our performances in Germany," she said.

In today's other game, Germany are major favourites against Japan.

A sellout crowd of 26,000 will be cheering for the hosts as the whole nation has done since the tournament started two weeks ago.

Germany won all their group games and a key moment came in the 4-2 win over France, when Silvia Neid, the coach, benched the all-time World Cup star Birgit Prinz after two bad outings.

Replacing anybody less would have been easy, but Prinz is the symbol of German football and the driving force behind 2003 and 2007 World Cup championships.

Once Neid made the move, the team gelled.