Rachel Brown-Finnis column: ‘England can’t afford lethargic second-halves this World Cup’

Rachel Brown-Finnis

Former England goalkeeper and BBC Radio 5 Live pundit Rachel Brown-Finnis discusses England's opening win over Scotland at the Women's World Cup, why manager Phil Neville needed to feel irate, and what threat Argentina - the Lionesses' next opponents - bring.

I would rate England as a nine out of 10 in the first half, and a four out of 10 in the second half against Scotland.

Their application in the first half was sensational; you could see that they felt comfortable and confident. I don't think the heat affected the Lionesses in the second half, I think it was their mindset.

Phil Neville would have emphasised that they're 2-0 up, they're hoping to have a lot of games left in the tournament, let's slow things down and get the ball, and play it.

What they didn't do was play the ball quick enough. They had the tempo in the first half, for people to have options in possession, but in the second half they didn't. It was a little bit lethargic.

Neville was seen giving the players a stern talking to at full-time on the pitch. That's just procedure after the game. They get together in a huddle and they debrief. They've always done that under Neville and they'll continue to do that - whether that's a positive pat on the back or whether he was reiterating that he wasn't happy with what he saw in the second half.

You're at a World Cup, you've got to make it count - here and now. At this stage you can have a little wobble and still get through the group but then it's knockout.

To put a performance in like that against a team that's higher ranked, with a bit more experience, then that would be the end of their tournament. There's never a reason to be irate unless you're trying to get more out of them, and that's what Neville is trying to do.

'A year without a goal… but Taylor might start'

When they were forging their plans a few months ago, they would have wanted to make changes for the Argentina match, their second in Group D. Not because they are a lower-ranked team than Scotland, but because they play a different type of football.

They'll bank up and be hard to break down.

I think Neville will make a number of changes but as we've seen from his 16 months in charge, he'll always choose to put different players on the pitch to deploy different tactics.

I think we'll see that against Argentina. Not because anyone is playing poorly, that's just always been his gameplan. And I think that's a good thing, it has a positive effect.

Striker Jodie Taylor and defender Rachel Daly might start, along with goalkeeper Carly Telford.

Jodie Taylor

Taylor hasn't scored an international goal in over a year, but she's proved herself all over the world at club level and she was the Golden Boot winner in the Netherlands two years ago. She's a world-class player and sometimes she just needs to get on a bit of a roll.

The downside, of course, is that you get that from playing with a consistent strike partner but there will be players around her in training who can synchronise with her.

What happens with a lower-ranked side is that they'll make it difficult to play through them, as they did in their opening game against Japan. They'll be defensive and compact and will try and catch them on the counter.

Argentina's centre forward, Sole Jaimes, plays for Lyon so she could be really dangerous.

England played against lower-ranked opposition in their warm-up games that play like this, but they didn't do that well against the likes of New Zealand, but having played teams like that it will be fresh in their minds.

They'll know what can happen if the plan isn't executed properly.

Rachel Brown-Finnis was talking to BBC Sport's Caroline Chapman.

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