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Men's Devin Harris Authentic Royal Blue Adidas Jersey: NBA Dallas Mavericks #34 Road Mark Sampson is hoping the Lionesses will create a little piece of English football history in Tilburg on Thursday night. His team face Portugal in this former textile town close to the Belgian border, aiming to be the first senior England side to emerge from the group stage of a major tournament with a 100% record since 1982. Sampson believes his players can eclipse the achievement of Ron Greenwood’s men’s squad in that year’s World Cup in Spain. “If we finish the group without conceding a goal we’ll be the first ever England team to do that,” said the 34-year-old Welshman, whose team won bronze at the 2015 World Cup in Canada and have begun Euro 2017 with 6-0 and 2-0 victories over Scotland and Spain. Not that their coach is resting on his laurels. “We want to be the type of team that have already moved on to the next level before opponents work out a way of stopping us, or hurting us,” he said. “That’s our challenge.” While England need a point to reach the quarter-finals, Portugal have confounded their status as Euro 2017’s lowest-ranked side by retaining hopes of leapfrogging Spain and qualifying for the knockout phase. Cam Fowler Youth Jersey “This is a nation that found a way to win the men’s European Championship finals last summer having won only one game – very sadly for me, as a Welshman – over 90 minutes,” cautioned Sampson. “It’s an opportunity for Portugal’s women, at their first European Championship, to qualify for the knockout rounds. “We know they’ll be incredibly motivated but so are we. We want to keep improving and building momentum. The more I look at this tournament the more I feel that momentum could be a big thing going into the latter stages. We want to make sure that when other teams get their snowball rolling down the hill, ours stays ahead of theirs and we keep it rolling at a faster rate.” Sampson’s confidence is bolstered by the success of a calculated gamble which led him to field sides some distance from their physical peaks against both Scotland and Spain. “One of the reasons we’re really pleased to have got six points is that we pushed the players so hard physically in our four-week prep camp that they had to taper off for the opening games,” he said. “When you taper off after such a high-intensity period of work you’re not going to be up to speed for your first two games. A lot of the players have been saying that they’re not quite at the intensity they’d like to be. “So the nice thing, physically, is we know that we can raise the bar now: we’ve planned to get fitter, faster and stronger as we progress. Bryan Bickell Youth Jersey That tapering period took its toll in those first two games, but I’m confident now we’re really good to go and we’ll see a stronger England for the rest of the tournament. On our day, we feel we can beat anyone here.” The Lionesses’ cause is assisted by their coach’s meticulous preparation. England have paid for the installation of a gymnasium at their Utrecht base. They are also renting a cryotherapy, or ice, chamber, and players wear compression pumps on their legs after games. These pneumatic sleeves, a cross between leggings and boots, constantly inflate and deflate, massaging the legs and helping rid muscles of lactic acid. As with the freezing cryotherapy chamber, they accelerate healing, reduce swelling and hasten recovery. Significantly, Sampson did not employ these devices during a punishing training camp in soaring temperatures in Valencia. “When we started our prep it was about the body recovering naturally, the body naturally acclimatising and adapting to what we were doing,” he said. “It means that, when the tournament begins and you start using recovery methods, they make a bigger impact.

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