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England team tries to change history

STAYING WARM: American players, from left, Tobin Heath, Amy Rodriguez and Kelley O’Hara work out in preparation for Sunday’s World Cup quarterfinal match against Brazil.

Associated Press

STAYING WARM: American players, from left, Tobin Heath, Amy Rodriguez and Kelley O’Hara work out in preparation for Sunday’s World Cup quarterfinal match against Brazil.

Women's World Cup

Quarterfinals Semifinal Championship Semifinal Quarterfinals
France (A) Australia (D)
Noon today; ESPN 7 a.m. Sunday; ESPN
Noon Wednesday; ESPN 2:15 p.m. Wednesday; ESPN
England (B) Sweden (C)
2:45 p.m. July 17; ESPN
U.S. (C) Japan (B)
1130 a.m. Sunday; ESPN 2:45 p.m. today; ESPN
Third place: 11:30 a.m. July 16; ESPN2
Brazil (D) Germany (A)

LEVERKUSEN, Germany — England doesn't have history on its side ahead of today's quarterfinal against France at the Women's World Cup.

It has been almost 37 years since England last defeated the French, a 2-0 win in Wimbledon, with Les Bleues going on to win five of their next 10 meetings.

And on the two previous occasions England reached the World Cup quarterfinals, it was defeated 3-0, by Germany in 1995 and the United States in 2007.

France, meanwhile, is playing in its first quarterfinal. The winner of the clash meets either Brazil or the United States in Wednesday's semifinals.

French goalkeeper Berangere Sapowicz is suspended for the game after being sent off in Tuesday's 4-2 loss to Germany. The more experienced Celine Deville will start.

For England, coach Hope Powell has concerns about the fitness of captain Faye White, who sat out a 2-0 win over Japan on Tuesday with a knee injury. "The players that came in against Japan did a fantastic job. I know there is a depth to our squad, so wait and see what happens," Powell said.

France has 10 members of the Champions League-winning Lyon team. And coach Bruno Bini took exception when German coach Silvia Neid failed to name France among the seven teams that could win the World Cup. "She will have to change that," he said before the tournament.

France then destroyed Canada 4-0 before bringing out the best of Germany in the defeat to the host nation in the final game of Group A.

Montpellier striker Marie-Laure Delie, 23, has 23 goals in 23 appearances for France. "Marie is simply unbelievable," Bini said.

COUNTING ON SOLO: Much has been made of the Americans' recent vulnerability, with the two-time World Cup champions losing four games since November after going unbeaten for more than two years.

But goalkeeper Hope Solo was the starter for only one of those defeats, the 2-1 result Wednesday against Sweden.

Solo played only the second half of a 2-1 loss to England in April, her first game back after shoulder surgery that kept her out of World Cup qualifying. England had scored both its goals when she entered.

Including the two goals against Sweden, Solo has allowed just five since the 2008 Olympic fina, won by the Americans 1-0 in overtime against Brazil.

"We're so confident with her back there," midfielder Heather O'Reilly said. "It's also nice to see the frustration on attackers' faces when they think the ball's in the back of net and she's able to get her fingertips on a shot that nobody else might be able to."

PRINZ QUESTION: Heading into today's quarterfinal against Japan, Germany has won all three group games and improved after a hesitant start. Its breakthrough was the victory over France, when Neid benched Germany's all-time World Cup star, Birgit Prinz, after two bad outings.

Replacing a lesser player would have been easy, but Prinz was the driving force behind Germany's 2003 and '07 World Cup wins. Once Neid did so, the team gelled and played with abandon.

"There is no reason to change up front since we scored four goals," Prinz said.

Prinz can likely count on no more than a substitute appearance today, but Neid insisted on the eve of the match: "I like surprises, so maybe."

RAMPING UP TESTING: The swift decision to submit the whole North Korean squad to anti-doping controls showed a commitment to fighting drugs, the medical chief of the sport's governing body said.

Michel D'Hooghe said FIFA anti-doping doctors were called up at short notice from across Germany to submit all North Korean players to tests after two returned positive samples during random controls earlier in the tournament.

Defenders Song Jong Sun and Jong Pok Sim tested positive after the first two group games and were suspended for Wednesday's game against Colombia that ended 0-0.

England team tries to change history 07/08/11 [Last modified: Friday, July 8, 2011 10:18pm]
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