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Ellen White on England’s World Cup draw: ‘anything not top of the group would be a failure’

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“We are putting pressure on ourselves as an England team, we want to perform, we want to win games and we want to qualify for the World Cup, that will be our priority.”

England’s overall results in friendlies since arriving in the semi-finals of the last World Cup have been poor, but they will clearly remain favorites in their group. In February’s meeting with Northern Ireland, the Lionesses won 6-0 as White scored a hat-trick.

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These are the strengths of the nine ‘Pot 1’ ranked teams, also including France and Sweden – who finished third in the 2019 World Cup – few shocks are expected, but the battles for the play-offs could be extremely competitive.

Scotland and Wales were both “Pot 2” seeds, knowing they would face at least one strong nation, and they were pitted against each other in the Spanish and French groups respectively.

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Both nations will be keen to reach at least the play-offs, while Northern Ireland, which reached the first major tournament in April as they qualified for the European Championships, will have reason to be optimistic as to his chances against Austria in the likely battle for second place behind England in Group D.

Wales have never qualified for a major women’s tournament but are expected to at least reach the play-offs this time around if the squad follow the form guide. In their group, only France and Wales are ranked in the top 50 in the world.

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Scotland advanced to the 2019 World Cup final, but were eliminated in the group stage in France after losses to England and Japan, followed by a spectacular 3-3 draw against the ‘Argentina.

No European nation has won the women’s world title since Germany in 2007.

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