When it was initially confirmed that England would be hosting the 2022 European Championships this summer, everyone with even a minor interest in the international women’s game were hopeful that the home crowds and support would further lift and motivate manager Sarina Wiegman’s Lionesses side to a first European Championship Trophy win.
England started the tournament in great form and were amongst the favourites to at least make the final, and with absolutely no problems encountered in the Group A Stage with three wins from three, 14 goals scored and not a single goal conceded – 1-0 over Austria, 8-0 over Norway and 5-0 over Northern Ireland – belief grew even further when we faced hot favourites win, Spain, in the quarter finals.
England fell behind initially but staged a great, late comeback, to take a 2-1 win in stoppage time and people began wondering if it might be our year. Next up were Sweden in the semi finals, and it was a tough test against the team currently ranked second in the world. However, once England had the advantage there was no looking back at the fans at Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane Stadium could taste the success in the air, as with a stomping 4-0 victory secured and the end of a 13 year wait to return to the final of a major tournament over, chants of ‘It’s Coming Home’ filled the Sheffield Skies.
Ahead of the tournament, Football Betting Site Betway sat down with former England greats Kelly Smith and Faye White and asked them to think about who would make their all time greatest European Championship starting XI, and they certainly came up with some interesting choices – with a couple of current players making the grade, including the always impressive Lucy Bronze.
With England now in the final on Sunday, and confidence and hope still incredibly high as we look to best Germany, if Wiegman’s side can go all the way, lift the trophy and bring it home, I wonder if Smith and White would make a few changes to that team – especially as it is understandably dominated by German players (German have a fantastic record of eight wins from ten attempts), but with the recent an significant improvements made within the women’s game, if England could go all the way, surely there is an argument to be made that at least one fresh face should go in – if not a couple?
Bronze could easily see herself joined by Beth Mead for example, as the 27-year-old former Sunderland and now Arsenal striker has a very impressive record at international level, with 28 goals scored in 44 games and although Manchester City striker Ellen white often takes the headlines, Mead has taken this competition by storm and remains many people’s favourites to lift the Golden Boot award at the end of the end of the competition having already scored six times in only five games – she’s also provided four assists.
Another player lighting up the tournament is Manchester United’s versatile attacker, 23-year-old Alessia Russo. She’s nowhere near ready for recognition on an all time greatest list, but with 12 goals for The Red Devilesses and a fantastic return of eight goals in only 12 England appearances, she should be watched as very much one for the future.
Particularly when you consider she hit an eleven minute hattrick in only her second substitute appearance for England, in what became a 20-0 record victory over Latvia in World Cup 2023 qualifying – her hattrick being the fastest ever recorded by an England player in history – and at the Euros she is sat pretty in third place in the scoring charts despite the fact she is yet to make her maiden international start.
It could be coming home, but the future is certainly bright.
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