England defender Alex Greenwood says the Lionesses are keeping their egos firmly in check as they begin their quest for a maiden World Cup title in a week’s time.
Greenwood’s first experience of the global showpiece was in 2015, when the Lionesses achieved a team-best third-place finish in Canada, and alongside Lucy Bronze is one of just two players on manager Sarina Wiegman’s current roster to have featured in three consecutive World Cups.
Perhaps more than any previous edition, the Lionesses enter this tournament firmly among the favourites to go all the way and unseat two-time defending champions the United States after winning the Euro 2022 final to lift their first major trophy.
Asked how she would rate the sense of belief in the England camp, Greenwood said: “We’re European champions for a reason. High but very humble as well, and we’re a team that’s hard-working and a team I think that’s focused on the job in hand, but I think right now the focus is on the first game and not past that.”
The Lionesses, fourth in the FIFA world rankings, will first take on Haiti – 49 places below them – in Brisbane before travelling to Sydney to face 13th-placed Denmark and conclude the group stage in Adelaide against China, who are 14th.
For the first time the competition has expanded to 32 teams, with the top two from each group progressing to the knockouts. The prize pot has also increased to 110 million US dollars (£84.7million), more than three times what was on offer at the 2019 World Cup in France though still paling in comparison to the 440 million US dollars (£337m) distributed after the 2022 men’s World Cup in Qatar.
That progress is what makes this third trip particularly special for 29-year-old tournament veteran Greenwood, who has played her club football with Manchester City since 2020.
Speaking after a team training session at Queensland’s Sunshine Coast Stadium, she said: “It’s the biggest Women’s World Cup we’ve had in history. It speaks for itself and I think the capability of teams in this tournament is huge.
“The excitement for the tournament, what women’s football’s done and where we’re at now makes it a more attractive tournament if you want to say. But yeah, I think year-on-year and tournament-on-tournament the game’s growing and this one speaks for itself.”
Alex Greenwood is busy preparing for England’s first World Cup clash against Haiti (Nick Potts/PA)
The Lionesses left England on July 5 and have been staying on the Sunshine Coast, where they’ve spotted kangaroos roaming the hotel grounds and have been able to enjoy local highlights from whale-watching to observing animals at the zoo.
On Monday England will transfer to their team hotel in Brisbane ahead of their Haiti encounter.
Keeping busy has helped alleviate some of the hardship of the long distance from loved ones and missing the comforts of home, a situation Greenwood mitigates by looking at the bigger picture.
She added: “I think the dream and what we want to achieve remains consistent in my mind. So that makes obviously the sacrifice and being halfway around the world from your family a lot easier, but obviously I feel very blessed and lucky to be in this position.
“So I grab the opportunity with both hands and want to make everyone proud really.”