England’s Lionesses are showing they could be the team to beat in 2023

England have beaten the USA just three times in their last 11 meetings

Manager Sarina Wiegman said England “don’t win a World Cup now” just because they beat the United States – but their win at Wembley suggests they could be the team to beat next summer.

The USA has won back-to-back World Cups and has long held the lead over England on the big stage.

But as confident European champions, England showed on Friday that they are right up there with the best with just 10 months to go until the 2023 World Cup.

The result extends England’s unbeaten run to 23 games under Wiegman – winning 15 of them in a row – and was their first victory against the USA since 2017.

It also ended the USA’s unbeaten run – they had won 18 and drawn three of their last 21 matches in all competitions, winning 13 straight before Friday’s loss.

England were lucky at times as the USA had a goal disallowed, a penalty overturned and a spot awarded against them after VAR reviews.

But the way England imposed themselves on the USA proved they have come a long way since the last time the two teams met in 2020.

“I think the USA will look at us and think ‘wow, that’s how you play in possession’,” former England midfielder Karen Carney told ITV.

“In my career, we’ve never really had that. We always looked at the US and were afraid of it. [on Friday] they’ve come to our home ground and seen us knock them off the park at times.”

England have an “aura” about them now, Carney added, and Wiegman believes confidence has grown during her tenure – helped by their success at Euro 2022.

This match against the USA may only have been a friendly, but it comes 10 months from the World Cup and will help build momentum.

“It was a good measure. It’s good to get a test against the USA, because they’ve won so many things in so many years. But now it’s October and not yet July,” Wiegman said.

Asked if England’s unbeaten run gave them the belief that they can beat anyone in the world, Wiegman added: “We’ve proved to ourselves that we can do it. At the Euros we showed we can beat anyone.

“It’s a fine line between winning and losing, but we could bring something that could win against the best opposition and we showed that again. [against the USA].”

Sarina Wiegman and the England team
England are yet to lose a game under manager Sarina Wiegman and have won 15 games in a row

It was a win that kept forward Alessia Russo and captain Leah Williamson out injured, though the U.S. was also missing key players and is in a transition period with several younger stars.

Wiegman wanted her team to control the ball and create chances, which it did for long periods.

The USA were also a threat and there were nervy moments in the game for England, who were pushed into a frenetic and explosive encounter.

Wiegman, usually so relaxed, joked that she was “not calm at all” when midfielder Keira Walsh held the ball in her area at one point before passing it back to goalkeeper Mary Earps for a quick clearance.

“She loves to play, but I’d rather she did it a little higher up the pitch!” Wiegman added.

But former England defender Stephen Warnock believes the hosts showed enough quality and nerve to prove they can compete with the best.

“We brought the most successful international team to Wembley to challenge them. She showed her level [women’s] game,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“This USA team will compete at the highest level at the World Cup and it shows what England can achieve under Sarina Wiegman.”

There is still a long way to go until next summer’s World Cup, however, and Wiegman wants to stay grounded.

When asked if England could be considered the best team in the world at the moment, he said: “You’re the best team in the world when you’ve won the World Cup. We’re not.”

Meanwhile, USA boss Vlatko Andonovski “absolutely believes” England are contenders to win next year’s tournament, although he hopes his side will be the team to stop them.

“They have an incredible team and have shown once again that they are very good,” he added.

“If you give them space, they have players who can make the difference. They have an incredible manager and I wouldn’t mind facing them again in the final!”

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