Former England captain Faye White believes France are “there to be beaten” in Sunday’s Euro 2017 quarter-final - even if history means the Lionesses remain outsiders.
Unlike England, who are ranked fifth in the world, France are yet to impress in this summer’s competition despite their third-place ranking.
The fact they have not lost to the Lionesses since 1974, and are such a proven team, is why White still considers them favourites.
England won all three of their group games, with coach Mark Sampson given the luxury of resting 10 of his previous starting XI for Thursday’s defeat of Portugal.
Sampson’s side can take encouragement from their victory over Germany at the 2015 World Cup, while a further boost sees France’s Wendie Renard suspended.
However, White told Press Association Sport: “History always does come into it a little bit, so you can’t just dismiss France because they’ve not got going, but I wouldn’t say (England are) favourites.
People revert back to the fact we don’t beat them, and they are higher-ranked than us. You’d see (France) as the favourites and I’m sure the girls would be quite happy with that.Former England captain Faye White
“People revert back to the fact we don’t beat them, and they are higher-ranked than us. You’d see (France) as the favourites and I’m sure the girls would be quite happy with that.
“I’d say they’re there to be beaten this time, because they haven’t got going; the pressure’s on them because they nearly went out (at the group stage).
“Any team, if in the last three games they’ve not played well, you think: ‘They’re there for the taking’. It’s just that history between us, but we’ve got a really good chance.
“We’re capable of beating them but it is going to be close. The strikers seem confident; we’ve started brightly and quickly.
“It’s in your mind. There’s always that feeling of: ‘We’ve got to try and beat them when we haven’t’.
“It’s not been that impressive (from France so far), it’s not really clicked, but good teams find a way to win; Germany and France, they do that.”
White was England’s captain the night she missed the penalty which contributed to a shootout defeat against France, also at the quarter-final stage, of the 2011 World Cup.
Despite her acknowledgement of the extent to which history opposes the present team, she also believes they have a “different mentality” that can inspire them to reach the final four.
“We’re getting closer, over the past few tournaments, and certainly more recently,” the 39-year-old said. “There’s a different mentality now that the team have from when I played.
“They’re not scared of teams like this, since beating Germany, and are getting closer to them all the time. More players in the squad have so many more caps and experience under their belt.
“I’m pleased Wendie Renard is not playing. She has that height, over 6ft, and having played against her in the past and marked her she’s a handful at set-pieces. That’s going to be a positive for us.
“A lot of the players were rested against Portugal. You’re thankful that France didn’t get an extra day of rest, and I don’t think that will be an issue.”