Women’s Euro 2022: England set to avenge 2009 final defeat in rematch to Germany

Women’s Euro 2022: England set to avenge 2009 final defeat in rematch to Germany

After the two semi-finals, a total of 487,683 fans have attended the games so far, more than doubling the previous record of 240,055 set at Euro 2017 in the Netherlands.

This does not take into account the historic crowds expected for Sunday’s final at Wembley Stadium. Around 87,000 fans are expected to be in the home of English football, which would break the current attendance record for a Euro final – men or women – of 79,115, set in 1964 in the final between Spain and the Soviet Union at the Bernabeu in Madrid.

According to UEFA, the governing body of European football, almost 100,000 children have attended Euro 2022 matches so far, while 47% of all fans were women.

Of course, it certainly helps that the home fans were lucky enough to see arguably the most talented England women’s team of all time.

An 8-0 win over a dangerous Norwegian side just two places behind England and a 4-0 win over Sweden, the second best team in the world and a team that had previously beaten England just three times, will make history some of the most striking in lionesses history.

But the road to the final was not always straightforward. England struggled to find their rhythm in a tough opening win over Austria before being pushed to the limit in a comeback win over Spain in the quarters.

READ: “That was lit” – Alessia Russo’s stunning heel goal sends fans swarming as England advance to the Euro 2022 final
Chloe Kelly and Lauren Hemp celebrate after beating Norway 8-0.

However, England will surely be happy to have been put to the test ahead of their most difficult game yet. Germany have quite an exceptional record at the European Championships, winning eight of the 12 editions played and reigning the Euro crown for 22 years until losing in the quarter-finals in the Netherlands five years ago.

Head coach Sarina Wiegman, who led her native Netherlands to victory at Euro 2017, is aware of how important an English win on Sunday could be for women’s football in the country.

“I think we’ve already been an inspiration to the country,” she told reporters on Friday, per Reuters. “You know when you win a big tournament it really makes a difference and that would make me very proud. But I don’t think any further. Most of the time, you probably won’t notice the effects until 15 years later.

“We’re going to approach this game like any other game we’ve played. We’re not talking about the rivalry between England and Germany, we want to show how good we are and play our best game.

“There is so much will to win and so much perseverance in this team. We really want to show again that we are the best and play our best game. That’s what we’ve been trying to do all along, and then we hope that will bring us victory.”

‘Nothing left to lose’

Alexandra Popp, who became a German star with six goals in five games at this European Championship, is one of the best feel-good stories of the summer.

The 31-year-old missed Euros 2013 and 2017 through injury and for a while she looked set to miss those after injuring her knee last year, but Popp was finally able to compete when the tournament was postponed by a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

She made up for lost time and was visibly emotional after scoring in the opening win against Denmark, sinking to her knees and covering her face with her hands.

Alexandra Popp's six goals at Euro 2022 equal the all-time record for a single tournament.

Popp’s six goals at Euro 2022, surpassed only by England’s Beth Mead, equals the previous best-ever goal tally in a single Euro, scored by compatriot Inka Grings at Finland 2009.

“I think the pressure is more on the English side, precisely because it’s taking place at home,” Popp said at a press conference on Friday. “We know that from 2011 [when Germany hosted the World Cup]suddenly everyone expects something from you.

“We have nothing left to lose. With this attitude we can go into the game with complete freedom.”

In any case, it doesn’t seem to be nervous in the German camp before the final, because Popp appears at the press conference with a mustache hidden under the mask. “Hello,” she said, greeting reporters in a gruff voice.

After their match-winning performance against France in the semifinals, German departures FUMES and Der Postillon published satirical posts saying that men’s national team head coach Hansi Flick had called up a new striker for Qatar, accompanied by a photo of mustache-wearing Popp, using the pseudonyms Alexander Bopp and Alexander Papp.

The striker will undoubtedly be the biggest threat England face at Wembley next Sunday and it’s likely a moment of instinct from Popp or Mead could decide the game.

These two teams have brilliant defensive records at this tournament, having conceded just one goal each, and it’s likely that their stingy defenses will be difficult to break in the final.

Alexandra Popp wore a fake mustache at her pre-match press conference on Friday.

‘Terrific’

The quality on display at Euro 2022 only underscores the accelerated growth of women’s football across the continent in recent years as football governing bodies have finally started investing seriously in their teams.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, who says he has been following Germany’s progress closely, said women’s football has “exploded” in recent years.

“I really have to say that I love women’s football, it’s outstanding,” said Klopp at a press conference on Thursday.

“The quality of the tournament is insane. England are doing exceptionally well. I’ve seen Germany play three games and they’ve done really well too. It’s a really good final – two intense teams against each other.”

“As much as I love England, in this particular case my heart goes for the German side, but the better team could win and I’m totally fine with that. In a sold-out Wembley Stadium with an English crowd, it will be a huge challenge for Germany.

“Most important is the face that women’s football has shown, it’s a fantastic game. Women’s football has exploded in development in recent years. It’s at an incredibly high level tactically and technically. The intensity of the games – physically, it really is , really good and I like to watch it.

“England are slight favorites at home but Germany have a chance.”

Following last summer’s defeat in the men’s EURO final, England fans will be desperate to avoid a double heartbreak. But against a German side desperate to reclaim their European crown, that’s a very likely possibility.

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