The Women’s World Cup 2019 has revolutionized the women’s game entirely with more viewers than ever before. People watched players rise to stardom, as eight cities in France hosted the glittering extravaganza. One of the players who worked her way up to recognition was Jill Scott.
Scott currently plays for England’s national team as a midfielder. She made 134 appearances for the Lionesses prior to the 2019 World Cup. The 2019 World Cup is the midfielder’s eighth major tournament with the national team.
The 32-year old was the first of two England internationals to have made the move from Merseyside to Manchester in the winter of 2013. Scott has been a Manchester City Women stalwart and is one of the Skyblues’ longest-serving players.
A player for the big occasion, Scott is one of just 11 Lionesses centurions. She shows outstanding tactical understanding of the game. This includes the winner against the Netherlands in the Euro 2009 semi-final, the equaliser against Belgium in Euro 2017 qualifying and the finish in the 3-0 win over Wales which sealed England’s place at France 2019.
This tactical analysis will profile England’s midfielder Jill Scott.
Scott began her senior career with Sunderland Women. In October 2005, aged only 18 years, she won the Women’s Player of the Month award for September.
The box-to-box midfielder then left her hometown club and joined Everton Ladies in July 2006. She turned down an approach from Doncaster Rovers Belles. Her first game for Everton came the following month, a 3–0 defeat against Arsenal Ladies in the FA Women’s Community Shield.
Since playing for Everton, she contributed to the Blues’ FA Women’s Premier League Cup win in 2008 and FA Women’s Cup victory in 2010. On the individual level Scott was voted 2008 FA Players’ Player of the Year and 2011 FA International Player of the Year.
Scott decided to leave Everton at the end of the 2013 season. She signed a two-year deal with Manchester City. This move proved a success, as she played her part in securing the Continental Cup Trophy for Manchester City in 2014.
The 32-year-old played alongside captain Steph Houghton, is one of the squad’s most experienced players. She, by now, has played at four World Cups and three European Championships as an England midfielder. Scott brought a wealth of experience to City who benefited from her defensive capabilities and eye for goal.
Scott is currently the #8 for Manchester City, with 83 appearances and 18 goals.
A veteran of England’s first three Women’s World Cup campaigns, the imposing creative midfielder headed into her fourth consecutive global finals as a key member of Phil Neville’s squad. Her ability to get from box to box is partly thanks to her being an outstanding long-distance runner in her youth.
She also played a key role in England Women’s 2011 and 2014 World Cup [qualifying] campaigns. At junior level, Scott played for the England Under-19s side, scoring three times in three games as England won through the first round of qualifying for the 2006 UEFA Under-19s tournament.
She made her debut for the England senior team against the Netherlands in August 2006, coming on as a late substitute for Kelly Smith in a 4–0 win. She went on to start the remainder of England’s matches in the tournament, scoring her first international goal in the 6–1 demolition of Argentina in the group stage. England bowed out at the quarter-final stage after a 3–0 defeat against the United States.
Constantly getting back to cover in defence, Scott always shows maturity beyond her years which has led England to many clean sheets. The 32-year-old has won 143 caps.
In her first World Cup match against Japan, Scott entered the game as a substitute in the 74th minute but then received an upgrade to a role in the starting lineup for the remainder of the tournament. Her first international goal came in England’s 6-1 demolition of Argentina in the 64th minute of the match.
It’s no surprise that with this work ethic and hunger Scott is England’s all-time World Cup appearance maker. When considered that she has been doing all of the above on the biggest stage across four tournaments it’s all the more remarkable.
The 32-year-old Manchester City midfielder is strong in the tackle and a vital link between defence and attack. This refreshing attitude is reflected in her tactics and playing style. As a defensive midfielder, Scott is already among the best in the league. Her reading of the game and being in the right place at the right time makes her an astute player.
At five foot eleven inches, one might expect her to be a centre half, or an old-fashioned centre forward, but she marshals the England midfield. She is a very good tackler. The Lioness has great awareness of the opposition players within the dangerous areas of the pitch. She enjoys chasing every loose ball.
She might not be as eye-catching in style of play or mannerisms as some of her team-mates. But the longevity of her career and the big match experience she brings are a key to her game. The lioness also receives a lot of plaudits for her awareness during in-game situations. She settles in well into her central/defensive midfield roles. She is often keen to break up counterattacks with her near-perfect timing.
The midfielder repeatedly takes advantage of the front-foot defensive approach that was adopted by the Norway full-backs in the World Cup this year. She either utilised their wide players or asked Ellen White to exploit the space in behind them.
When goalkeeper Karen Bardsley played over the Norway press for central forward White; from there, White found Nikita Parris wide, who in turn played to Lucy Bronze in the half-space. The Lyon right-back drove infield, and her pull back was swept home by an unmarked Scott. 1-0, the fastest goal the Lionesses have ever scored at a World Cup. This can be seen in the following picture.
She wins the ball back over and over and assists with the transition between defence and attack. Again, she’s not out there constantly pinging 60-yard Hollywood passes, but she carefully guides the team forward 10-15 yards at a time, it’s rare you’ll see her ever lose the ball.
Given her preference of starting from a deeper position, Scott has the view of the entire pitch and assesses the correct passing option. She is predominantly right-footed and looks to move the ball into the channels on that side.
In the following picture, this can be noticed. Out of possession, England had to subdue a central overload for Norway, so chose to adopt a high-pressing 4-2-3-1 shape in the opposition half, with Scott dropping alongside Keira Walsh at the base of the midfield.
Using her height to her advantage, Scott was able to win the majority of headers she went for which aided the Lionesses in both attacking and defending against their opponents. The analysis shows her aerial duels to account for 65.2%.
She has a wide passing range and a good dribbling ability. The midfielder also thrives in close control and has an impressive ability to press effectively. She has also got a great vision and knows exactly when and where to make the pass. Her interceptions also make her useful to press and dominate the opponent’s midfield.
She uses her body to shield possession. By getting her toe to the ball ahead of an opponent, she produces headed flick-ons for an onrushing team-mate. Scott can win possession for her squad to be fluid.
This is done by her man-marking approach. The opponents then require working extremely hard in defence, and at times they did this in an overly aggressive manner. The tactic opens up large space for team’s offensive game to excel, however, there was no screening of the forwards, either centrally or in the half-spaces, meaning she was able to play through their opponents too easily. This is shown in the following picture.
Scott raced up front to provide her skills in every area of the pitch. One thing that stood out was that she looked like a true team player. Despite having many key roles to play on the pitch, Scott made it all look effortless.
This tactical analysis has given enough evidence to support this Lioness’ striking ability. Capable of collecting the ball out of the backline and even slotting in at centre-back, she is a ball-playing midfielder. She keeps looking to initiate attacking transitions and creates difficulties for her opponents. She knows how to read passing lanes and start counters.
With the passage of time, the 32-year-old Manchester City stalwart will surely be able to reflect on a personally excellent tournament in which Phil Neville selected her for every game and she proved one of England’s outstanding individuals.
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