England will continue their preparations for the UEFA Women's Euro 2017 Championship on Sunday as they get their La Manga tournament underway against Norway at the Pinatar Arena in Murcia, Spain.
The Lionesses have made their way to Spain in the hope some warm weather training would facilitate their bid for continental glory this summer, but the freezing conditions in Murcia have offered an unexpected twist.
Norway might be better prepared for the icy conditions as a result, and new manager Martin Sjogren will be hoping to shock England this Sunday as he looks to establish a legacy in his fresh position.
England counterpart Mark Sampson is much more experienced in his role at the Lionesses' helm, meanwhile, and his side just about edge Sunday's opposition with a 10-match unbeaten streak to defend coming into the contest.
Read on for a preview of Sunday's La Manga showdown, complete with viewing information, prediction and a look at the biggest headlines leading up to this friendly encounter.
Date: Sunday, January 22
Time: 5 p.m. GMT/12 p.m. ET
Venue: Pinatar Arena, Murcia, Spain
|England Women vs. Norway Women Form Guide|
|Netherlands 0-1 England||Norway 2-1 Sweden|
|Spain 1-2 England||Germany 1-1 Norway|
|England 0-0 France||Norway 0-0 Sweden|
|Belgium 0-2 England||Norway 5-0 Israel|
England's Frosty Reception
It's not uncommon for teams with colder winter climates to jet elsewhere at this time of year in the hopes of finding more hospitable conditions, but England's search has thus far been unsuccessful in Spain.
The cold of Britain will have led one to believe the team would be better off in Spain, although Birmingham City forward Ellen White was one of those shocked to see a whiter landscape upon arriving in Murcia:
Ellen White @ellsbells89
not quite what we were thinking! 😳😂❄️⛄️ #snowing #lamanga #Lionesses https://t.co/V6LOmgy4SQ2017-1-18 16:40:45
Goalkeeper Siobhan Chamberlain also posted updates from the Spanish training camp, suggesting the team might have enjoyed a warmer setting if they'd chosen to remain in Britain instead:
That being said, Sampson can only envision playing in such weather will help in toughening his crew in their bid to go 11 games unbeaten this Sunday, having last suffered defeat when they lost to Germany 2-1 in March 2016.
Scoring in unfamiliar territory hasn't been a concern for this England team of late, either, with Sampson's women having netted in their last five successive away trips, also dating back to March of last year.
Norwegian Necks on the Line
While England are yet to debut, Norway defeated Sweden—La Manga's third and final participant—2-1 in their tournament opener on Thursday, no small feat considering the Swedes currently sit eighth in the official FIFA women's rankings.
It was a particularly valuable for manager Sjogren, too, as pointed out by the FIFA Women's World Cup Twitter account, and victory over England would provide another considerable morale boost for the coach:
Good win for Norway over rivals Sweden in Martin Sjogren's first game in charge https://t.co/1tTEjwxMNB2017-1-20 00:22:48
One figure in the Norwegian camp who certainly doesn't need the morale boost is Lyon striker Ada Hegerberg, who excitedly teased her team's trip to La Manga on the back of some splendid form at club level:
Ada S Hegerberg @AdaStolsmo
👉🏻🇳🇴 Off to La Manga after our 3-0 win this weekend. https://t.co/xBB8MCyRor2017-1-16 08:51:06
Hegerberg, 21, is easily the biggest attacking threat in Norway's arsenal and was voted UEFA's Best Women's Player in Europe last year; she boasts a record of 35 goals in 55 international appearances.
Unbeaten in their last nine matches and with wins in six of those outings, Norway have a lot on the line in Sunday's clash, too, hoping to establish themselves as a greater threat under new coach Sjogren.
Prediction: England 2-2 Norway