Lionesses kick off with pressure rising and questions to answer at World Cup

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High expectations, recent goal drought and uncertainty over best XI mean England could do with a strong start against Haiti

‘Pressure is a privilege.” Those were the words Leah Williamson uttered on the eve of last summer’s home Euros. Just over a year later, England, with those winners’ medals still gleaming, have to deal with a different kind of pressure, perhaps more increased than ever before. The Lionesses open their World Cup against Haiti in Brisbane with the expectation of a nation on their shoulders. No matter the injuries or the raft of new faces, the wealth of talent within their squad means many will consider this the best opportunity England have had to lift the coveted trophy.

When asked about this pressure, Sarina Wiegman brushed off the notion with characteristic composure. “[It] is always on England,” the manager said on Friday. “Everyone expects England to win anyway – that’s for tomorrow but also last year for the opening of the European Championship. That’s not different. What we will do is just play our game and focus on what we have to do.”

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Written by Sophie Downey in Brisbane
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