Euro 2022 final England v Germany: How we got here and will super-sub Alessia Russo be the key?
Ahead of the final of Euro 2022 between England and Germany, Yara El-Shaboury takes a look at the clash between two of the pre-tournament favourites. How did both teams get to the final, having not lost a game so far, and will England's super-sub hero of the tournament so far Alessia Russo be the deciding factor for the final?
'It was amazing' - England fans react to semi-final victory over Sweden at Euro 2022
England will host Germany at a sold-out Wembley to decide who will become Euro 2022 champions on Sunday.
England will be looking to win their first major international trophy, having only gotten to the finals of this tournament twice before. Once in 1984, where they lost to Sweden on penalties, and in 2009 against Germany, where they were defeated 6-2.
Germany, on the other hand, have won this competition eight times, more than any other team. They especially dominated in the mid 90’s to the early 2010s, winning seven in a row from 1995 to 2013. They have never reached the final of this tournament without winning the showpiece event.
England’s nervy start to the tournament, a tight 1-0 victory against Austria at Old Trafford, certainly wasn’t their story of the group stages. They turned over Norway in a remarkable 8-0 victory, before comfortably beating debutants Northern Ireland 5-0.
The quarter-final proved to be a much more difficult task as England were outplayed for about an hour by Spain, with striker Esther Gonzalez giving the visitors the lead in the 54th minute. However, the host nation managed to take the match to extra time with an Ella Toone goal in the 84th minute before securing the win after a Georgia Stanway rocket. Despite the semi-final being a bigger match with the Lionesses facing off against Sweden, the team ranked second in the FIFA world rankings, they managed to score four, including a cheeky backheel nutmeg goal from Alessia Russo that stole all the headlines and ensured that the host nation would be heading to Wembley.
SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - JULY 26: England's Leah Williamson (left) and Alex Greenwood (right) celebrate their teams 4-0 victory during the UEFA Women's Euro England 2022 Semi Final match between England and Sweden/Belgium at Bramall Lane on July 26, 2022 in S
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Sarina Wiegman has been here before, managing the Netherlands during their win in 2017. She says, however, that she is not concerned with the history between these two teams.
“I don’t know what the perfect game is because whoever is in front of us, we want to beat them. This is the final and we just really want to win the final. We talk about their players, not the history. It is about the here and now.
“Germany wants to win the final too, of course, but we don’t talk about the rivalry between England and Germany. We want to show so badly how good we are and play our best game.”
Germany’s path to the final
Germany topped their group in comfortable fashion, with their most impressive performance of the three matches being their 2-0 win over Spain with goals from Klara Buhl and Alexandra Popp.
In the quarter-finals, they were heavy favourites against Austria, but they weren’t as dominant as predicted. However, they capitalised on two mistakes made by Austrian keeper Manuela Zinsberger, with both Lina Magull and Popp scoring a goal. In the semi-finals, they faced their toughest test yet against France. Going ahead early wasn’t enough as an unlucky Merle Frohms own goal on the brink of half-time meant that there was all to play for in the second 45 minutes. However, Popp became the hero once again, scoring her second of the night and booking Germany’s ticket into the final.
Germany | Euro 2022
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Germany may be the slight underdogs due to the home advantage, but Martina Voss-Tecklenburg is still backing her side despite the challenge from England.
“It will be an incredible final. We will be playing at Wembley in front of 80 or 90,000 people and most of them for England and against us, but we understand that and we accept the challenge. England have been incredible in this tournament every single game for dynamism, lots of goals, and they are so incredibly confident. It will be a great football feast.”
Story of the Final: Will Alessia Russo start?
There is much conversation regarding England’s starting striker ahead of the match at Wembley. Ellen White is an England legend, but she hasn’t hit top form at this competition. Every time Russo has come on to replace her, she has proven time and time again that she has all the qualities of a starting striker.
However, Wiegman is known for not making what she deems unnecessary tweaks in her starting XI, and despite Russo impressing, White has started every single match at this tournament.
White also may not be scoring the goals, but she undeniably has a huge role in how England press from the front, and her movement is a constant chore for opposition defenders to defend against.
Alessia Russo of England celebrates after scoring her side's third goal during the UEFA Women's Euro England 2022 Semi Final match between England and Sweden/Belgium at Bramall Lane on July 26, 2022 in Sheffield, England.
Image credit: Getty Images
The want for Russo to start is understandable. Her backheel goal alone had everyone in awe, and fans want to see more of her. But England finally have strength in depth, a quality that not many national teams are blessed with, which can be the difference between a win and a loss at a major tournament. If Wiegman doesn’t use her full squad at hand, then truly, what is the point?
In an interview during the England Football Learning Live event, Wiegman spoke about how she approaches game management and how she has a preference for those with a bit more experience during major tournaments but integrates younger players with less experience with her substitutions.
“I think younger players are not aware of situations as much as experienced players. You need experience to know what’s going to happen. When you think all about what can you expect in the match, what can you expect [off] the pitch, I think that’s what we really need to help players with and how [they] can cope with that.”
Final verdict: White will likely start, but expect to see Russo about an hour into the match, especially if England are tied or are behind.
Team news & predicted line-ups
There are no injuries or Covid-related news for England’s squad.
England (4-2-3-1): Mary Earps (Manchester United); Lucy Bronze (Barcelona), Millie Bright (Chelsea), Leah Williamson [captain] (Arsenal), Rachel Daly (Houston Dash); Georgia Stanway (Bayern Munich), Keira Walsh (Manchester City); Beth Mead (Arsenal), Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Lauren Hemp (Manchester City); Ellen White (Manchester City).
There are no also injuries in the Germany squad; however, Klara Buhl, who missed the semi-final due to a positive Covid test, will need to produce a negative test if she is to feature in the final. Should she not start, then Jule Brand will likely be her replacement.