Home News Women’s World Cup 2023: Time to Unleash Alessia Russo’s Full Potential

Women’s World Cup 2023: Time to Unleash Alessia Russo’s Full Potential

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At this FIFA Women’s World Cup, England must boost their scoring. However, the recent lack of precision cannot be blamed on Alessia Russo.

The Lionesses haven’t netted a goal in open play for over five and a half hours, leaning on Georgia Stanway’s reattempted penalty to narrowly overcome Haiti in their inaugural Group D match.

Russo’s goal-drought on the international stage extends even longer, reaching back to February’s victory over South Korea. Yet, I maintain confidence in her form, even with forthcoming challenging games against Denmark and China.

Even though Russo didn’t score against Haiti, her leadership on the front line was exemplary, doing everything right for the team. The only alteration I’d like to see in her game is a stronger presence in the box.

The role of a centre-forward is demanding nowadays, and Russo excels at initiating the press when England lack possession and bridging play during their attacks.

She demonstrates a remarkable ability to hold and run with the ball. However, I hope to see her deviate from frequently operating down the left channel, leaving that to the wingers while positioning herself centrally, closer to the goal.

The heat map of Russo’s interactions against Haiti reveals her immense efforts in deep regions and towards the left.

Yet, I long to witness Russo showcase her exceptional skill – arriving in the box at the right moment, demonstrating tight control under pressure, and delivering strikes that are beautifully precise with minimal back-lift.

Russo had a few chances against Haiti where her headers were slightly off timing, but her aerial capability is unmatched.

By putting her and the ball in the penalty area at the right time, she could leverage these opportunities and open the scoring floodgates with just one goal. I’m hopeful that this will materialize in the upcoming Denmark match on Friday.

So, what can the team do to support Russo?

The immense pressure that accompanies being England’s number nine can be daunting, particularly when goals become scarce.

Playing under such stress is challenging, but having known Russo since her England squad debut in 2020, I am confident that she’s robust enough to manage it.

I fully back Russo, and England’s head coach Sarina Wiegman’s decision to field her demonstrates a similar belief and trust.

It’s easy to blame the striker when scoring is low, but the entire team needs to ponder how they can generate better opportunities for Russo and provide additional support.

From the England-Haiti match, it was clear that many player connections are still maturing. Russo’s link-up was among those requiring improvement.

England often lost possession while building plays, and there seemed to be confusion about how best to deliver the ball to the forwards in the box. But it wasn’t solely poor execution that was problematic.

Russo may not have been the recipient of enough crosses, but that shouldn’t be the focus. Ideally, Russo’s runs should attract defenders and create space for Chloe Kelly, Lauren Hemp, Ella Toone, or Stanway to enter.

This wasn’t the case against Haiti, and both the front three and possibly the midfield need to review the game and discuss ways to enhance their offensive performance.

Whether through group discussions or practical training, the team should begin by asking Russo about her preferences and what changes could support her better.

Why Wiegman Will Stick with the Same Line-Up

Despite a disappointing performance against Haiti, England won’t establish any rhythm by making substantial changes for the Denmark game. Wiegman is expected to stick with the same starting XI to maintain continuity.

This consistency begins with the goalkeeper – Wiegman isn’t likely to replace Mary Earps, who made crucial saves – and extends to the back-line, where changing players could be counterproductive.

In midfield, it’s unlikely that Lauren James will replace Ella Toone in the number 10 role. Keira Walsh and Stanway share a good understanding, and England should retain the front three to strengthen their rapport.

Now that the first game is behind them, I expect a significant improvement overall, with fewer jitters but a considerable increase in intensity.

England must retain possession more effectively and exercise patience because losing the ball led to numerous Haitian counter-attacks.

The silver lining is that England now have a foundation of three points, especially as Denmark will be brimming with confidence following their late triumph over China.

The game on Friday was always pivotal for determining the group winner, but its importance has grown even more.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Women’s World Cup 2023

Question: What is the focus of the analysis on England’s Women’s World Cup performance?

Answer: The analysis focuses on England’s goal-scoring struggles, particularly highlighting that Alessia Russo is not to blame for the lack of cutting edge. It emphasizes the need for Russo to capitalize on her strengths by positioning herself more in the box and discusses the team’s role in creating better chances for her.

Question: What are the specific areas that Russo excels in as a center-forward?

Answer: Russo is praised for her abilities to initiate the press when England doesn’t have possession, link play during attacks, and hold and run with the ball. Her aerial ability and control in tight situations are also noted as strengths.

Question: How can the team better support Alessia Russo’s performance?

Answer: The team should focus on developing better connections and link-ups with Russo. They should aim to create more opportunities for her in the box by understanding her preferences and making adjustments to their attacking play.

Question: Why is England’s head coach expected to stick with the same starting XI despite the disappointing performance against Haiti?

Answer: The coach aims to maintain continuity and build understanding between players. Consistency in the lineup allows for better cohesion and rapport among the team members, which can lead to improved performance in subsequent matches.

Question: What are the key areas of improvement that England needs to address after their match against Haiti?

Answer: England needs to work on better ball retention and patience in possession to avoid being vulnerable to counter-attacks. Additionally, they should enhance their delivery of the ball into the box to involve Russo more effectively.

Question: How significant is the upcoming Denmark game for determining the group winner?

Answer: The Denmark game is crucial in deciding the group winner, and its importance has intensified further given Denmark’s confidence after their late win against China. The result of this match will likely have a significant impact on the group standings.

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