England manager Sarina Wiegman has said that the Lionesses need to “embrace expectations” for Euro 2022 as she prepares her side for the inaugural Arnold Clark Cup this month.
With England acting as the host nation for the Euros, expectations are exceptionally high. Wiegman knows what it takes to win the competition on home soil, however, having led the Netherlands to victory at Euro 2017.
England reached the semi-finals at that tournament, but were beaten 3-0 by Wiegman’s side. Having also reached the semis of the Women’s World Cup in 2015 and 2019, there is hope that they can triumph this time around.
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Ahead of the Arnold Clark Cup, where England will face Germany, Canada and Spain in preparation for the main event, Wiegman has suggested that her players are feeling a mixture of anxiety and excitement as the Euros loom. The tournament opener will see the Lionesses take on Austria at Old Trafford on July 6 with 75,000 fans in attendance.
Speaking to former England captain Alex Scott on BBC Football Focus, she said: "We’re trying to prepare everything as well as possible, on and off the pitch.
“This is going to be the biggest women’s event in Europe ever. So it’s going to be huge. We already know that the opening match is sold out, which is really, really exciting. It can also cause a little stress, we know that.
“The better the preparation, the better the players know how we want to play, what their tasks are [and] what their roles are on the pitch.
“The better that we manage expectations, what could happen in the preparations, what could happen during the tournament… we discuss all those things, and we also discuss things like: ‘Hey, what’s pressure? Don’t push it away. What could be pressure for you is different for someone else.’
“So that’s why we have to get to know each other, so we can try to help with what’s needed for [each specific] person.”
Wiegman also said that England’s status as hosts would give them an opportunity to shine. “This is a chance for us, you know? It’s a home Euros,” she said.
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“The players have come so far to make the squad, so [they need] to just show and make everyone proud. But also, make yourself proud.
“Football is a game in which everyone is going to make mistakes, that’s fine, but we learn from mistakes. It’s okay to make mistakes, but [we need] to create a very high-performance environment where it’s safe to make mistakes.
“[We need to] embrace the situation that there are going to be expectations on us. That’s the environment we play in.”
Wiegman has a perfect record with the Lionesses so far, having won all six of her matches in charge with 53 goals scored and none conceded. Those matches have come against North Macedonia, Luxembourg, Northern Ireland, Austria and Latvia, however, with England winning their second World Cup qualifier against the latter 20-0.
Wiegman knows there are much tougher challenges ahead, not least at the Arnold Clark Cup. “After this tournament, we will really know where we are at this moment,” she said.
“[This] is an opportunity to develop. That doesn’t mean we don’t approach the games to win. But we’re going to let more players play that might not be a starter at the Euros.”
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