England ‘will thrive’ in front of 70,000 crowd against Australia as Spain await in final

England will thrive playing Australia in front of more than 70,000 fans in Sydney in their World Cup semi-final, captain Millie Bright has said.

Far from being intimidated, Bright sees the prospect of a raucous, sell-out crowd in Stadium Australia as a sign of welcome progress for women’s football.

She said: “That is what we expect now – for us to thrive in those moments.

Leah Williamson, centre left, and Millie Bright lift the trophy after winning the Women’s Euro 2022 final. Pic: AP

“It is a proud moment for the women’s game back home when they see what an atmosphere there is.”

The defender was sent off in England’s last World Cup semi-final when they lost to eventual winners the United States in 2019.

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Bright is deputising for the Lionesses’ usual skipper, the injured Leah Williamson, who picked up the European Championships trophy last year.

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The victory at Wembley is England’s only triumph in a major tournament, but win on Wednesday and she will be one game away from picking up England’s first Women’s World Cup.

Bright said: “It’s about turning up, showing up, performing and enjoying the game.

“It is important to adapt to the game whatever they give to us. We have faced many different challenges and we have adapted really well.”

Millie Bright captains England against Australia. Pic: AP

While England are considered the favourites, the Matildas have a growing energy from reaching a first-ever World Cup semi-final.

England manager Sarina Wiegman said: “I don’t think they are underdogs. They are playing at home and the stadium will be really full… so I think it will be very tight and very competitive.”

If the Lionesses win, they will play Spain after their 2-1 win over Sweden in Tuesday’s first semi-final.