How Far Will England Go in the Women's World Cup?
Mark Sampson's side practically cruised through the group stages in Canada, despite a late scare in Montreal against Colombia.
The Three Lioness' will face an impressive Norway side in Ottawa on Monday, but what round will they reach this summer and can it be counted as a successful campaign?
Round of 16
England fans - don't fool yourselves - Monday's encounter with Norway will be no walk in the park. The Norwegians have held a tight unit throughout the group stage and held pre-tournament favourites Germany to a 1-1 draw, and played superbly, with Mjelde's equalising free-kick being a contender for goal of the tournament. England fans will have enjoyed their nation's 2nd and 3rd, more attacking, performances.
However, Sampson is likely to employ the same method of defence that was displayed against France. Sampson will want his side to trade attack for defence and hope to hit the fellow European outfit on the counter-attack. It will certainly be a tight match, as the two tournament outsiders battle for a place in the quarter-finals.
I doubt England will keep a clean sheet in this one as they've appeared leaky at the back in the group but, I think that England will just scrape through this one, despite Norway being my team to watch for the tournament.
PREDICTION: England 2-1 Norway
Possible opponents: Canada/Switzerland
For this round, Mark Sampson and England will be desperate to avoid being drawn against the hosts, the type of advantage that home supports gives a side is unbelievable. I think that both Canada and Switzerland have performed well so far, but not well enough to win the tournament. Canada have struggled to find the back of the net, scoring just twice in their three matches, but still managed to top Group A. Switzerland have been the complete opposite, hitting Ecuador for 10 in the middle of narrow defeats to 2011 finalists Japan and Cameroon.
Switzerland are definitely more vulnerable than Canada, but it'll be a close match. If England were to face Canada, Fran Kirby would be key in breaking the hosts' defence, whereas, if England face Switzerland then I think that Sampson would opt for a more attacking approach and pushing numerous players forward like against Colombia.
The England-Switzerland tie would definitely be a more entertaining match, but England vs Canada would be filled with undeniable quality.
PREDICTIONS: England 0-1 Canada, England 3-1 Switzerland
Semi-Finals (If England play Switzerland)
Possible opponents: Brazil, Australia, Japan, Netherlands.
Most likely opponents: Japan
I doubt that England will make it through to this stage but, if they do, their most likely opponents with be the 2011 finalists Japan. Japan are classed as underdogs for the tournament according to bookmakers, but I class them as one of the favourites. Japan showed quality throughout their qualifying campaign as well as the group stage and I cannot see England being able to overcome them.
This one is a short summary - because I don't think that many England fans have the belief that their nation can beat Japan either.
PREDICTION: England 0-3 Japan
So, where do England need to reach for it to be a 'successful' World Cup? I'd say that Sampson must lead England to at least the quarter-finals if they are to take positives from the last two years, but then again, that would not be an improvement on the 2011 journey.
England fans would be happy with the last eight, but for it to be a real success, the FA will want the Three Lioness' to reach the last four.