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the English dream of a final and of fervor

The Three Lionesses are starving. After reaching the semi-finals of the last three international competitions in which they took part, the English finally hope to be able to triumph on their land for this Euro football 2022. The mastery and ease of the host country during the group stage are commensurate with the expectations placed on the selection.

However, the Lionesses initially doubted, after a sluggish victory against Austria (1-0) at the opening of the tournament, on July 6 in Manchester; but they reassured themselves by disintegrating Norway (8-0), then walking against Northern Ireland (5-0). Results of these three meetings? Fourteen goals scored, a record at this stage of a Euro (the previous one was held by Germany, with eleven goals scored in 2001), none conceded, and a ticket to the quarter-finals easily composted.

Read also: Football: England bets on the Women’s Euro to affirm its status as a new heavyweight

It is therefore against Spain, Wednesday, July 20, that the English tournament really begins. With a lively and diligent game, they now have a mission: to win the first trophy in their history, after the unfortunate finals of Euro 1984 and that of 2009. The Three Lionesses are more and more favorites. “England are so far ahead of everyone at the momentsaid Northern Ireland coach Kenny Shiels at a press conference after suffering British efficiency on the pitch. I must say that if they didn’t win the tournament, it would be a failure. If you have the best players, you have to win. »

The Batavian method

Performing well in recent years, the English seem to have taken a further step with Dutch coach Sarina Wiegman, undefeated at the head of the selection since her arrival in September 2021. The replacement for Phil Neville, former boss of the women’s country team -Bas, has already left its mark. “England have always had talented players, but Wiegman has brought confidence and freedom to this teamestimates Emma Sanders, journalist specializing in women’s football for the BBC. She develops clever tactical plans, is adept at calm management, and shines with her personality: the players immediately reacted positively to her method. »

Starting with Bethany Mead, current top scorer of the tournament. Since the arrival of the Dutchman in charge, the Arsenal striker has been reborn. “She is the top scorer under Sarina Wiegman [19 buts et 12 passes décisives en 16 rencontres] and has also been excellent with Arsenal throughout the seasonargues Emma Sanders. She was unlucky not to be selected for the Olympics last summer, but bounced back confidently to show her quality. » A rebound confirmed by his remarkable start to the Euro: five goals and three assists in three games played.

But the high-flying performances of Beth Mead and her teammates have so far not allowed them to benefit from the same popular fervor as their male counterparts, beaten by Italy in the final of Euro 2021. If the three matches of the English selection were all the same sold out – nearly 69,000 spectators during the opening match – the country is not yet living to the rhythm of its Euro. “I think outside of the usual football fans, the excitement won’t really start until the semi-finals.regrets Charlotte Harpur, journalist for the site The Athletic. People who aren’t very interested in the sport will then think, “Oh, the women’s team is pretty good, actually!”, and they will feel concerned. »

Win the Euro to win hearts

Generalized indifference confirmed by Emma Sanders. “There’s always a lot of excitement about the England team, but in this tournament it doesn’t feel like there’s been a big breakthrough into a new market and to a new audience.she notes. The BBC Sport website and BBC Radio 5 Live were well attended. But, yes, the TV numbers are lower than the 2019 World Cup numbers at the moment.”

This burst of interest will perhaps be too late to permeate an entire society and bring about the paradigm shift desired by the Football Association (FA), the English Football Federation. “The FA would like the Euro-related attention to spill over to the domestic league, the Women’s Super Leagueexplains Charlotte Harpur. The objective is to ensure that people will regularly fill the stadiums in the heart of the season, to exceed one or two thousand spectators per game. »

Read also: Women’s Euro 2022: in England, a contrasting popular success

Lucy Bronze and her teammates know what they have to do to win in the hearts of the English: win. But there is still a long way to go before the coronation, Sunday July 31 at Wembley Stadium. In the quarter-finals, Wednesday, the Lionesses will first have to tame the Spanish selection at the Community Stadium in Brighton. “Spain are very good in midfield, we know that., decrypts Charlotte Harpur. But La Roja haven’t been clinical in front of goal, they’ve missed out on accuracy so far: it’s up to us to put them under pressure! » Spain as an appetizer for the country of football, which dreams of feasting on a first continental title.

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