Lionesses get World Cup confidence boost with Arnold Clark Cup victory

England’s Lionesses demonstrated why they are among the favourites for the upcoming 2023 Women’s World Cup with a dominant performance in the Arnold Clark Cup.

Following a comfortable win against South Korea in the first game (4-0), Italy pushed England on matchday two. Despite this, Sarina Wiegman’s side were still able to claim a 2-1 victory.

Finally, in Wednesday’s last match of the Cup, the Lionesses pulled off a brilliant 6-1 win over Belgium. Last year’s Euro 2022 hero Chloe Kelly bagged a brace on Wednesday night, as did Leah Williamson.

Meanwhile, a Julie Biesmans own goal and a Lucy Bronze strike sealed a convincing win. This continues England’s unbeaten streak under manager Sarina Wiegman, which extends to a staggering 29 games.

Despite this unbelievable record, the manager does not let it distract from the team’s aims.

“I actually don’t speak about that record at all,” said Wiegman, via The Independent. “You keep the data updated very well, and of course, it’s really nice.

“But you want to win every game – that’s just the standard of this team. We don’t want to win the game because (we have not lost in) 29. Of course, it’s really nice – so, let’s play 200 games and win them all.

“But that’s not what we are focused on. We are focused on our style of play and how we can improve that in all parts of the game. In possession, out of possession, in transition, and that’s what we are talking about all the time – to make the chance of winning the next game as high as possible.”

The Lionesses have some challenging fixtures ahead as they prepare for the World Cup.

England get ready for summer with Finalissima test

During the next international break, England will play in the Women’s Finalissima. This game, between the European and South American champions, offers another chance at silverware.

In the 2023 match on 6 April, the Lionesses will take on Copa America Femenina champions, Brazil. Sitting ninth in the FIFA world rankings, the South American country should provide a stiff test for the European champs.

However, England do have one advantage. Wembley Stadium plays host to the Finalissima, giving Lionesses the boost of home fans, plus less travelling.

After this opportunity to lift another trophy, England will also play a friendly against the 2023 World Cup host nation, Australia. They face Chelsea’s Sam Kerr, plus other familiar faces, on 11 April at Brentford’s GTech Community Stadium.

These two fixtures will allow Sarina Wiegman further opportunity to finalise her squad ahead of this summer’s tournament. She rotated her teams heavily during the Arnold Clark Cup, with numerous players impressing.

The likes of Rachel Daly, who played well in a new position as striker, and Lauren James provide headaches when it comes to team selection. Strength in depth is great, of course, but it can still lead to tricky decisions.

Wiegman still has time to decide ahead of their first Women’s World Cup fixture, though. The Lionesses recently discovered their opponent for this opening group stage game.

Lionesses: World Cup group finalised

Thanks to a 2-1 victory over Chile, Haiti will be in England’s group for Australia & New Zealand 2023. This is the Caribbean nation’s first-ever World Cup appearance, and they immediately face a tough challenge. Haiti take on the Lionesses in the first match of their respective group, on 22 July.

Joining Haiti and England in Group D are Denmark and China. For England, fellow European nation Denmark are the second test of the World Cup, before closing the group with China.

Coming in as one of the tournament favourites, the Lionesses will hope for a comfortable first round in order to focus on a deep World Cup run.

Featured image credit: Getty