Congratulations to the USA for winning the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The Americans were clearly the best team overall, but the gap is closing between the four-time World Champions and the rest of the world; England was a missed penalty and a VAR decision away from knocking the Americans out. In this post, I want to explore the data to assess England’s performance.
Here at MicroStrategy, we’ve been exploring the player and team data provided by Opta and presenting it in an interactive dossier. We’ve been looking at the FIFA Women’s World Cup data over recent weeks, and now that the tournament is over, we can take a look back at the performance of England’s Lionesses.
England's team had the World Cup’s second-top scorers and several of the most accurate passers.
Dangerous Up Top
England did not manage to improve on third place from 2015 but ran the US mighty close in the semis and would have fancied themselves against the Dutch in the final. Let’s take a look at the Lionesses’ star players.
As a team, England scored more goals (13) than any other team apart from the US (25), who put 13 past Thailand in one match alone. England’s pass conversion rate (80.2%) over seven matches was the third best in the tournament after Australia (80.9%) and Japan (80.8%), both of whom only played four matches.
England and Manchester City striker Ellen White was deadly accurate in her finishing.
England striker Ellen White was unlucky to have two goals chalked off for offside and tie as top scorer with six goals for the tournament. While American winger Megan Rapinoe won the golden boot for six goals in 428 minutes of play, her teammate Alex Morgan also bagged six—although of these came in that 13-0 group stage thrashing of Thailand.
England scored 13 goals—nine from open play and four from set pieces. The team missed three penalties during the tournament, including a miss that cost them a late equaliser in the semi-finals.
England scored a quarter of their goals from set plays.
Suspect at the Back
Where England needs to improve most is in defence. Despite only conceding one goal up until the semi-final stage, the Lionesses’ tackle rate was 52.6% overall—dropping from 58.5% in the group stages to just 37.5% in the semi-final against the USA, compared to the Netherlands’ 80.5% tackle rate in its semi-final with Sweden. The Dutch committed 21 fouls over 120 minutes in that match, while England committed just seven fouls over 90 minutes with the USA. The Dutch knew how to spoil and disrupt opponents Sweden’s approach play.
England were punished for first-half lapses in concentration in both the semi-final versus the US and the fourth-place match against Sweden.
The Netherlands team topped the tackle charts.
On the positive side, right back Lucy Bronze won the Silver Ball as the second-best rated player of the tournament after Rapinoe and her value to England is borne out in the data: one goal, two assists, 16 dribbles, and 460 passes—the second-highest pass rate in the tournament after skipper Steph Houghton. Houghton’s pass accuracy was 83.4%, but England’s most accurate passer was Abbie McManus, who made 203 passes over her three matches at 95.1% accuracy.
England will host the Euro 2021 tournament and, with a team that’s growing in confidence and ability coupled with home advantage, this is a great opportunity for the Lionesses to win their first major trophy.