England Women have delivered by embracing World Cup adventure

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Last Updated: 02/07/19 3:22pm

England prepare to face USA in the Women's World Cup semi-final on Tuesday and Sky Sports News' Jess Creighton is in Lyon to preview the game
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England prepare to face USA in the Women's World Cup semi-final on Tuesday and Sky Sports News' Jess Creighton is in Lyon to preview the game

In the sweltering record temperatures in France, England's Lionesses have remained cool.

There has been an air of calm about the Lionesses camp during this World Cup. It has not mattered if it has been a much-hyped British battle with Scotland, an emotionally-testing tussle with Cameroon, a scorching heatwave that forced the coaching staff into altering player training schedules, or even 'Spy-gate' - the players have exuded composure and confidence. The British adage 'keep calm and carry on' springs to mind.

As England approach their third straight major tournament semi-final, head coach Phil Neville told me they are "prepared for everything".

Phil Neville is hoping to guide England Women to a first World Cup final

Having followed England in the run up to this World Cup, the self-belief has been consistently high. Eighteen months ago, when Neville took charge, these players did not believe they could win a World Cup. Now they do.

I have looked these players in the eye many times in the past few weeks and directly asked them if they can lift the trophy for the first time ever. Without blinking, they always reply: "yes!"

England fans are heavily outnumbered by their USA counterparts in Lyon but Sky Sports News' Geraint Hughes tracked down two Lionesses supporters
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England fans are heavily outnumbered by their USA counterparts in Lyon but Sky Sports News' Geraint Hughes tracked down two Lionesses supporters

Most importantly, they are playing with smiles on their faces, which was not always the case under previous managers Mark Sampson and Hope Powell. When I've been at their training sessions, they are always laughing, joking, singing and dancing as they're getting ready and putting on their football boots.

I even heard a passionate - if not out of tune - rendition of S Club 7's 'Reach for the Stars' at one point! These players are enjoying the moment and rather than letting the pressure of success weigh heavy on their shoulders, they are lapping up every drop of this World Cup adventure.

Lucy Bronze plays for French side Lyon

The Lionesses might be abroad but Lyon is home to England's right-back Lucy Bronze, who plays her club football at the most successful women's team in the world, and she will soon be joined by Nikita Parris. I'm sure there will be a fair amount of local support for them now that France are out.

Speaking to some of the Lyonnaise, USA are now the enemy for knocking out their beloved home side. Many are actually rooting for the Lionesses. The French supporting the English, you would certainly never get that in the men's game!

Former USA goalkeeper Hope Solo says USA will be a 'failure' if they do not win the Women's World Cup and believes they will be too physically fit for England
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Former USA goalkeeper Hope Solo says USA will be a 'failure' if they do not win the Women's World Cup and believes they will be too physically fit for England

It has been interesting to see how Lyon has embraced being a host city. This is a part of France with a proud past in women's football and the locals seem to be enjoying it - the World Cup fan park in the city centre has been lively in the run up to this match. One of the great things about the women's game is the varied crowd it attracts - boys, girls, old, young, families, couples.

There will be close to 57,000 of them cheering on two of the heavyweights of the game tonight, in what is set to be the biggest event in Lyon's illustrious female footballing history.