Nigeria vs England: Lionesses Lauren James Sees Red

nigeria vs england women's world cup

Exciting Talking Points as England Advances to World Cup Quarter-Finals!

In a thrilling match, England secured a spot in the World Cup quarter-finals by narrowly defeating Nigeria on penalties following a goalless draw. Let’s delve into the excitement of Lauren James’ red card and the puzzling tactical decisions made by Sarina Wiegman!

We look at the talking points from England’s World Cup last-16 triumph over Nigeria, including Lauren James’ red card, Sarina Wiegman’s perplexing tactical decisions, and a shootout victory.

England lucky to emerge as victors

There were several missed penalty calls – one given and then chalked off – a red card, the woodwork rocked, extra time, and penalties – and Nigeria tried virtually everything to win.

The fact that England won on penalties does not reflect the Super Falcons. Wiegman needed luck on her side because it was evident that victory would not come on her terms.

So much went wrong, and it shouldn’t have taken a tense shootout to get to the quarter-finals.

Lauren James Sent Off and a Quiet First Half

Lauren James received a red card during the match, leading to her early exit from the game. In the first half, she only managed to have 20 touches on the ball. This was surprising, considering her impressive performances against Denmark and China, where she displayed exceptional skills and talent. The lack of involvement in the first half could have been better.

However, let’s view it as another factor contributing to England’s challenging match; Nigeria strategized for the game to unfold precisely as it did.

The midfield zones were eerily silent, as most of the action revolved around the wings. Halimatu Ayinde ensured this by closely marking James and tracking his every move.

As time passed, the Chelsea forward grew increasingly frustrated, as she lacked opportunities to get the ball and felt disconnected from the action.

In domestic discussions among Chelsea fans, there have been slight concerns regarding James’ performance in significant moments, especially when she doesn’t have everything served on a platter while playing the No. 10 role. Her performance in the Champions League semi-final against Barcelona perfectly illustrates this.

Subsequently, there was a growing sense of irritation, leading to an outburst of emotions – precisely as it transpired under the lights in Brisbane.

In a moment of recklessness reminiscent of the infamous ‘David Beckham incident’ during the men’s World Cup in 1998 against Argentina, James utilized Michelle Alozie as a springboard while recovering from an aggressive challenge.

Afterward, there was a prolonged VAR stoppage to assess the initial yellow card, and England ended up with only 10 players on the field, as they fell far below the standards they had established for themselves.

For James, it’s a challenging learning experience. The system did not favor her on this occasion, and she couldn’t find a way to make it work in her favor. Should Wiegman have made changes earlier? Could this have altered James’ fate? We can only speculate.

Is Lauren James’ tournament in jeopardy?

Unless a successful appeal miraculously occurs, Lauren James will face an automatic suspension for England’s quarter-final match against either Jamaica or Colombia. However, there might be even worse news for the Chelsea forward. According to FIFA rules, additional sanctions can be imposed in cases of violent conduct. This offense usually results in a three-match ban across all game levels. If that happens in this instance, James’ tournament will be over, regardless of how far England progresses.

New Shape, Not working

With a new formation, England opted for a 3-5-2 system, anticipating a dominant performance against Nigeria, just as they had against China and Denmark. However, the Super Falcons had diligently prepared for this approach.

Employing a swift and intense 4-2-3-1 setup, they skillfully targeted England’s wing-backs, forcing them away from their intended positions and creating ample spaces to exploit.

The Lionesses were surprised by this strategy, evident in the nervousness that permeated through their midfield and defense as they struggled to establish control in the game.

Alozie and Ashleigh Plumptre spearheaded the Nigerian charge, with the latter coming close to scoring as she struck the woodwork just before halftime.

England found it challenging to cope with the tactical overloads imposed by Nigeria. Despite this, Wiegman refrained from making any immediate adjustments, believing something might open up in a more central area – a risky gamble.

In the 31st minute, there was a brief moment when it seemed like Rasheedat Ajibade had fouled Rachel Daly, providing a glimmer of hope for England, but it wasn’t even a chance from open play.

When James received a red card, Wiegman reverted to a back-four formation, and even later, she made attacking changes to try to turn the game around.

Nigeria’s fluid attack leaves England stiff.

England found themselves struggling against Nigeria’s dynamic and versatile attacking style. An interesting statistic highlighted that Nigeria took more shots against England than any other team that faced the Lionesses during the World Cup that summer.

Nigeria’s attack remained potent and relentless even with Asisat Oshoala initially on the bench. When Oshoala eventually entered the game in the 58th minute, it added a sense of foreboding for England. Before her appearance, Uchenna Kanu and Ifeoma Onumonu had already put significant pressure on Wiegman’s back three defenders, and now, with Oshoala on the field, Lucy Bronze and Millie Bright faced the challenge of dealing with the five-time Champions League winner.

Oshoala, Kanu, and Ajibade formed a formidable attacking trio, working in tandem like a multi-headed hydra, making it difficult for the Lionesses to adapt and respond effectively to their relentless attacks.

England, who had previously displayed remarkable adaptability in response to Kiera Walsh’s absence during the tournament, now appeared rigid, unyielding, and lacking creativity.

They cannot afford to repeat their lackluster performance against Colombia or Jamaica; England’s vulnerabilities have been exposed, and a more proficient team could capitalize on them.

Nigeria’s manager, Randy Waldrum, openly acknowledged that they had provided a “blueprint” for dismantling the Lionesses’ game.

“We may have given some teams in this tournament a blueprint of how to approach [stopping England],” he ruefully stated.

“China gave the back three too much space, and when you combine that with James finding gaps, it was a recipe for disaster for them.”

“We knew we had to neutralize James and exert pressure on the back three, so we pressed them aggressively and employed some physical play.”

“I’m certain other teams will watch and take notes, thinking, ‘this gives us an idea of how we should play against them’.”

Published on: August 7, 2023. at: 4:19 pm

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