Mark Sampson hoping history lesson will spur England Women to win over Scotland

18 July 2017 07:08

England manager Mark Sampson says his team are ready for a battle with Scotland after soaking up a lesson on the historic rivalry that exists between the nations.

Wars were fought and lives lost centuries ago, and nowadays any hostility is less brutal but still occasionally comes to the surface.

On Wednesday the national football teams of each country will go head to head in Utrecht, as they begin their campaigns at the Women's European Championship.

Sampson said he wanted his players to know why the match would mean so much to the Scots, who go in hampered by the loss to injury of their world-class playmaker Kim Little and star defender Jennifer Beattie.

Details emerged of the Lionesses being taught about what makes the Scots tick, and why they will so ardently want to take down World Cup bronze medallists England in their opening game. And Sampson detailed why it was so important to get inside the minds of their opponents.

He said: "Did we have a history lesson? We did, yes. Every time we play an opponent in a major tournament we want our players to understand their 'why'.

"Our 'why' is that we want to inspire the nation, and we want to win for our family and friends and become the best team in the world.

"We need to know what their 'why' is because they have gone into great depths to try to find a way to beat this England team.

"For us to understand why they'd be willing to do that is really important to us. So now we know that, we can ensure our motivation levels are right and we can find a way to win what's going to be a very difficult football match."

The lesson is thought to have included clips of the Mel Gibson film Braveheart, the Oscar-winning interpretation of William Wallace's role in the First War of Scottish Independence.

Sampson added: "I've never been involved in a game of football that isn't a battle. This will be similar.

"Both teams will be determined to win. Our focus is on being the best we can be. We are aware of Scotland and we know their main strengths and we know they have some outstanding players and individual talents.

"But they've also got some areas where we feel we can hurt them so we've been focused on those the last couple of days.

"We just have to get our mindset right, get our work-rate right, and plan as well as we can. If we do that we'll get three points on the board but we'll have to produce a hell of a performance."

England will be without former captain Casey Stoney due to a hamstring strain but are otherwise at full strength - a position the Scots will envy.

Sampson said it was "disappointing to everyone at the tournament" that Little is absent.

Captain Steph Houghton also reflected on the significance of the footballing rivalry between England and Scotland.

She said: "It's a massive game, probably the biggest. I remember watching England v Scotland when I was younger when Paul Gascoigne scored the winner at Euro 96."

And boss Sampson is confident England are fired up for the occasion, as they embark on a campaign they hope will end with glory in the final in Enschede on August 6.

He said: "The feeling in the camp is that we can't wait to get started."

Source: PA