LONDON – Sarina Wegman and her players know, deep down, that the most important victory has already been achieved. Its spoils can be measured not just by the record attendances and fans that England achieved at Euro 2022, but by the soaring pubs, shirts everywhere, and crowded trains making their way to Wembley Stadium for Sunday’s final. against Germany.
It will also be clear, a few years from now, as England captain Leah Williamson put it, when this tournament will be seen as a “game changer” for women’s football in England, certainly, and potentially across Europe as well.
However, the problem with elite esports is that it is not so simple. The impact of Euro 2022 on the general public will not change, of course, regardless of whether England can take that final step on Sunday and become European champions for the first time, but the way players remember it will certainly change. Inspiring a nation in glory is one thing. It’s another thing to do it in regret. The victory that matters to England is not the philosophical one, but the conceptual one. It is achieved over a period of 90 minutes on the field.
It’s also achievable. England swept the tournament with such poise and grandeur that Wegman admitted that the group stage was “relatively easy”. Her team only suffered once, in a perilous quarter-final against Spain. That game brought the lone goal that Marie Earps also received. The host must be the favourite.
The only caveat is that Germany is not a disguised underdog. Martina Voss-Tecklenburg has the atmosphere of a team in transition, an older generation is gradually giving way to a younger one, led by the indomitable Lena Oberdorf, but Germany’s pedigree in this tournament is impeccable: she was crowned champion of after all, eight times Europe, And you never lost. This iteration has been gaining momentum, certainly and tirelessly, throughout the tournament. And she also knows that this is the important victory, on which everything depends.
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