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England women conclude their preparations for Euro 2022 with a friendly trip to Switzerland on Thursday. Michael Beardmore provides the preview and best bets.

 

There are statement performances – and then there’s thrashing the reigning European champions 5-1 a month before they defend their title on your home turf.

 

I’ll hold my hands up completely – I did not see England’s 5-1 destruction of the Netherlands coming one jot last Friday night.

 

England have historically come up just short against the very best but maybe that is changing under Dutch boss Sarina Wiegman.

 

The Lionesses remain unbeaten since she took charge last year and that is a statistic that is unlikely to change in their final friendly before Euro 2022 as they head to Switzerland on Thursday.

The Swiss are no mugs, ranked 20th in the world, but there is a gulf between the really top sides and those in the second tier – they lost their most recent game 7-0 to Germany, for instance.

 

Now, there are a lot of intangibles to consider with this game – with it being the final match before the Euros, will either side go full throttle? How strong will their line-ups be? Those are difficult questions to answer but one fact I’m clinging to here is that England simply do not concede goals against non top-15 opposition.

 

Their recent results against such teams are 3-0, 5-0, 10-0, 20-0, 1-0, 10-0, 4-0, 10-0, 8-0 and 6-0 – you have to go back to November 2019 to find the last concession against such opposition, a 3-2 win in the Czech Republic.

Kelly Smith joins Sporting Life as a star columnist

They have conceded just three times in 13 games under Wiegman and tend to win handsomely, especially against lesser opposition, thus I was surprised to see the ENGLAND -1 HANDICAP as generously priced as 10/11 generally.

Switzerland have lost by two goals or more the past six times they have faced teams ranked in the world’s top 10 – and given England are generally 1/4 to win, the leap to 19/20 for them to do so by two goals or more looks too large.

I might be being greedy now but I also can’t turn down the 13/5 with William Hill on ENGLAND -1 SECOND-HALF HANDICAP.

The Lionesses often wear down inferior opponents after the interval and the floodgates open. In their past five games, they have scored 26 goals – and 19 have been in the second half.

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