Sarina Wiegman’s England Lionesses stand on the brink of a landmark triumph ahead of Sunday’s Euro 2022 final against Germany.
A talented, highly likeable squad has captured the heart of the nation and will have done immeasurable good for the women’s game, regardless of the outcome in front of what promises to be a record crowd at Wembley.
Here Metro.co.uk provides the lowdown ahead of what promises to be a pulsating encounter…
It had to be them
Go on, say it. Germany were the team we didn’t want to face in the final. The old rivals, eight-time champions, ranked fifth in the world – three above the Lionesses – are the team standing in the way of Sarina Wiegman’s side being crowned European champions for the first time.
Spain and Sweden have provided differing tests in the knockout stages for England so far but the Germans remain a fearsome prospect, with their skipper Alexandra Popp red-hot in front of goal.
They will be the ultimate test of just how good this Lionesses team is. The stats back that up. Germany are a very hard-working side – Giulia Gwinn has covered the most distance of any player at the tournament (51.6kilometres) while Sara Doorsoun has the greatest passing accuracy (96 per cent) and Lena Oberdorf the most tackles (20). But the cherry on the cake for them is Popp and if they can keep her quiet, England will have earned their moment of glory.
It’s about us
The crucial shift in mindset under Wiegman has been that the manager is not too concerned by who her side play against.
What she is bothered about is what her team does and that has rubbed off on a super-confident group of players, epitomised by the spine – the rock Millie Bright so commanding at the back, Keira Walsh pulling the strings in midfield and Ellen White the workhorse up front.
Add in some exciting young talents such as Lauren Hemp, and a goalscorer in form in Beth Mead, and England look like they can beat whoever is in front of them.
This presents the most serious threat to their amazing growth but they will be ready for whatever Germany throw at them. The Lionesses will play their own game and go for it as they always do.
Wiegman’s consistency in team selection – no changes to her starting XI so far and don’t expect any on Sunday – has made headlines but her biggest weapon has been to use her replacements so astutely. Alessia Russo has come on for White in all five games and has four goals from the bench. Ella Toone has also been an asset. Wait for the hour mark and see what the Dutchwoman has up her sleeve.
Key battle: Leah Williamson vs Alexandra Popp
Williamson has been the epitome of a defence that has conceded one goal – to Spain – at the finals. Deployed by Wiegman mainly as a midfielder before the tournament, she restored her as a centre-back alongside Bright once the Euros began and the new skipper has been sensational.
Her opposite number as captain, Popp, said ‘it doesn’t get better’ than facing hosts England in the final at Wembley and the 31-year-old will be key to preventing the Lionesses getting their hands on the trophy for the first time.
The Wolfsburg midfielder has had seven shots on target at Euro 2022, six of which have gone in.
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