Finland coach Michael Käld has stoked up the atmosphere before the quarter-final in Turku by calling on his team to break the hoodoo that England has over them. No Finland team, women or men, has ever managed to beat these opponents in a senior international.
The home nation are arguably the favourites to go through to the semi-final because they finished first in Group A whereas England only advanced as one of the best third-placed teams. But history suggests otherwise, nine fixtures between the teams producing five England wins and four draws.
The Finland coach believes it is time to draw a line under that particular statistic. "We have never won against England and now's the time to do it," said Käld. The teams fought out a thrilling group-stage encounter at UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2005™ when England, having led 2-0, then required a last-minute winner from Karen Carney to pull through. However, it was Finland who progressed from the group whereas England's hopes of winning their own tournament ended after two defeats.
In February the teams played two friendlies in Cyprus, a 2-2 draw followed by a 4-1 win for England. "That came after some hard training for our players whereas the competition in England was in full swing so they were very fit," added Käld, who may be without Sanna Valkonen due to a foot injury.
Käld knows expectations are growing in Finland with a possible place in the final only two games away but denies that it could prove a burden for his players. "Of course there are big expectations and the crowd will be supporting us," he added. "They will want us to go to Tampere for the semi-final and the team wants it as well, but first we have to do our jobs. When the referee blows his whistle we shall see what happens."
England manager Hope Powell, who could still be without central defender Anita Asante due to a knee injury and has right-back Alex Scott doubtful with a groin problem, is hoping that if her players carry out their instructions correctly then the sell-out crowd might just apply pressure on the home side. "We experienced it in France [in the decisive 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifier] when we were on top and the crowd turned on their own team," she said. "If it happens it could work in our favour. The whole occasion and atmosphere warrants a big crowd and I think our players will enjoy the occasion.
"It's been really tough for us so far, losing the first game to Italy and then getting round a difficult situation against Russia when we were 2-0 down. The players are well aware of what we have been through to get where we are and they are determined to stay in the tournament. We only have one chance now and we must make sure we are fully focused."
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