SheBelieves Cup Preview: England, USA, Japan and Spain square off for 2020 title

England lifted the SheBelieves Cup trophy 12 months ago (PA Images)
9:55am, Tue 03 Mar 2020
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The SheBelieves Cup kicks off in Florida on Thursday as defending champions England look to win a second successive title against hosts and world champions USA, Japan and Spain.

Here is everything you need to know about each team ahead of the 2020 tournament.

England

England won two and drew once in last year's SheBelieves Cup (PA Images)

Last year: Winners

Chance of winning: Despite being the current holders of the SheBelieves Cup, England are not favourites to lift the trophy this year.

Phil Neville's side were beaten by the reigning world champions USA in the semi-finals of the World Cup last summer, so it will be a tall order for them to beat the Americans on their home patch.

The Lionesses have also struggled for form since finishing fourth in France eight months ago having won just twice in six games.

However, they will be expected to see off Japan and Spain, so runners-up is the most likely outcome for England.

Key players: England striker Ellen White scored six goals at the World Cup, announcing herself as the Lionesses talisman for the foreseeable future.

So, White will be key to Neville's attacking creativity at the SheBelieves Cup, but it is also worth mentioning a relatively new addition to the squad in Chelsea's Bethany England.

The 25-year-old from Barnsley has scored 14 Women's Super League goals in 15 appearances so far this season and will be hoping to bring that form into the national side as she looks to establish herself as a regular starter for the Lionesses.

USA

USA won the World Cup last summer (PA Images)

Last year: Runners-up

Chances of winning: The US come into the tournament having won all of their 18 matches since drawing 2-2 with England in the 2019 SheBelieves Cup.

They have been utterly dominant over the last 12 months and look almost unbeatable in all areas heading into the four team competition.

The departure of Jill Ellis is the only possible chink in an otherwise impenetrable armour as new manager Vlatko Andonovski looks to prove himself in his first major test since becoming the new boss.

But the quality and depth of his squad means the US are still the overwhelming favourites to claim a third SheBelieves Cup title.

Key players: With superstar striker Alex Morgan out of the squad due to pregnancy, it will be down to the attacking talent of Megan Rapinoe, Christen Press, Carli Lloyd and Tobin Heath to carry the mantle for the world champions.

Lloyd has been hugelymm under-appreciated in recent years for her part in the US team, holding a record of 122 goals in 291 games.

Much of the media attention was around Morgan and Rapinoe last summer, so at the evergreen age of 37 this could be Lloyd's chance to become the face of the American team.

Japan

Japan won one, drew one and lost one in last year's SheBelieves Cup (PA Images)

Last year: Third

Chances of winning: Japan's first appearance in the SheBelieves Cup last year came with mixed success.

They put up a valiant display to come from behind twice and draw 2-2 with the US, before handily beating Brazil 3-1.

But they came up well short in their final game as England sent them packing in some style swatting them aside 3-0.

They were also beaten by Neville's side in their World Cup group 2-0, but other than that impressed in pushing finalists The Netherlands all the way before eventually conceding in the last minute to go down 2-1 in the round of 16.

Japan will be a threat to England and the US, but you envisage that both will have a little too much quality upfront for the current Asian Cup champions.

Key players: Japan's defensive rock Saki Kumagi will be crucial in their campaign.

She has played at continual Champions League winners Lyon since 2013, playing 121 times.

Kumagi also boasts an impressive scoring rate despite being a centre-half, averaging a goal every five and a half games for her club side.

Spain

Spain were beaten 2-1 by USA at the 2019 World Cup (PA Images)

Last year: N/A

Chances of winning: This year marks the first time Spain will compete in the SheBelieves Cup.

Having been tipped for big things at the World Cup, the Spaniards scraped into second place in their group before being dumped out rather timidly by the US.

They have quality in their team to really hit top teams, but come into the tournament as the outsiders to take home the trophy.

Key players: One of just three of the Spanish squad to have reached double figures for the national team, Jennifer Hermoso has 32 goals from 72 caps and is by far and away the top scorer in the 23.

She will be the one Jorge Vilda's side look to to hit the back of the net, while captain Irene Paredes will also be vital if they are to cause an upset in the tournament.

The skipper has experience at the very top level of club football with Paris Saint-Germain and has also been an integral part of the Spanish defence for five years.

SheBelieves Cup fixtures (GMT):

March 5: Spain vs Japan (9:15pm)

March 6: USA vs England (12am)

March 8: Japan vs England (6:15pm); USA vs Spain (9pm)

March 11: England vs Spain (9:15pm)

March 12: USA vs Japan (12am)

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