At this point, all the evidence points to one fact: Sarina Wiegman is the Women’s Euro Whisperer.
An England side will play for the title in the European Championship final which they are hosting for a second consecutive summer after Wiegman’s Lionesses beat Sweden 4-0 in the first semi-final on Tuesday. Either Germany or France will join England at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, and whoever emerges from Wednesday’s encounter will try to accomplish something no team has achieved in the last two such competitions: beat a team coached by Wiegman.
After guiding his native Netherlands to the title on home soil in 2017, Wiegman is one win away from taking another host country to the promised land. His all-time record as manager at the Euros 11-0-0. His teams outscored their opponents 33-4 combined. And more importantly, she seemed to instill the unquantifiable “winner mentality” at her two stops, where clearing the final hurdles had previously been impossible.
England have been close to winning major silverware before. He has reached the semi-finals of the last three major tournaments, falling at the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Japan, the 2017 Women’s Euro in Wiegman’s Netherlands and the 2019 Women’s World Cup in the United States. United. And that story loomed over the tournament host, with Wiegman tasked with transforming his multitude of talented individuals into a cohesive champion.
“I don’t want to be another player who loses in another semi-final and doesn’t reach the final of a major tournament with England,” veteran striker Fran Kirby said in the build-up to the match. of Tuesday. semi-finals that we have lost before and it takes a long time to recover from a semi-final like that.
“I don’t want to have to take a month to recover from not going to the final. It would mean everything to reach a final with this England team.”
Much to Kirby’s delight, England did just that, and they beat a quality team in impressive fashion to get there.
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Seconds later on Tuesday, however, it looked like it might be heading in another direction. Goalkeeper Mary Earps was forced into a set piece in the opening sequence of the match after Sofia Jakobsson was played off following a turnover on the halfway line, and Sweden were on their way to go of the. This is a Swedish team that has won silver at the last two Olympics (lost to Canada on penalties last summer and to Germany in 2016) and is ranked second in the world. They’re the kind of team that would have taken that early momentum and made England pay in the past. But, as England showed in their spectacular quarter-final comeback against Spain, this is not an old England team, it is a hardened team that can take the best shots from their opponents and win in different ways. After absorbing that early pressure, a goal against the run of play changed everything.
Beth Mead gave Sweden their first deficit of the competition in the 34th minute, volleying a side volley after setting Lucy Bronze’s cross for her tournament-leading sixth goal. Bronze then scored one of his own two minutes into the second half, with a header from a corner kick through traffic and backed by VAR, and from there it was effectively over.
But it definitely ended in the 68th minute, when supersub Alessia Russo scored perhaps the tournament goal. After saving a clear look, she pounced on the rebound, then instinctively hit a back heel on the frame, which stunned goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl and gave England a 3-0 lead.
Kirby then put the finishing touches by chipping Lindahl, who got his hands on the shot, but not enough to prevent it. At that time, the result was academic.
This will be the third Women’s Euro final for England, and the first since 2009, when they lost to Germany. A rematch could be in the cards, just as Tuesday’s match was a rematch of the 2019 Women’s World Cup third place qualifier (won by Sweden) and a rematch of the two-man European Women’s Championship final. legs of 1984 (won by Sweden on penalties). ). If the theme of this tournament is England exorcising the demons of the past to emerge triumphant, then the script is in the making. And as for Wiegman, England remain unbeaten since taking charge, now 17-0-2 and outplaying their opponents with an audacious 104-4 in the process, enjoying a few World Cup qualifiers. unbalanced to complete the overall statistics.
But the level of accomplishment doesn’t need to be disguised. This is a title-worthy England guided by a coach who has the wherewithal and the know-how to provide what was previously lacking. And on Sunday, we’ll find out if the Women’s Euro Whisperer can guarantee the title ‘comes home’ for a side that have been so close but so far from breaking into the world’s top flight.
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