Euro 2022 Women: England wants to avenge the last defeat of 2009 in the rematch against Germany

After the two semi-finals, a total of 487,683 fans have attended the matches so far, more than doubling the previous record of 240,055 set at Euro 2017 in the Netherlands.

That’s without taking into account the historic turnout expected at Wembley Stadium for Sunday’s final. About 87,000 fans will be at the home of English football, breaking the current attendance record for a Euro final — men’s or women’s — of 79,115, at the 1964 Spain-Soviet final at the Bernabeu in Madrid.

UEFA, the governing body of European football, says nearly 100,000 children have so far attended matches at Euro 2022, while 47% of all fans have been women.

Of course, it certainly helps that home fans have been lucky enough to see arguably the most talented English women’s side of all time.

The 8-0 dismantling of a dangerous Norwegian side, only two places behind England, and the 4-0 thrashing of Sweden, the second best team in the world and a team that had only beaten England three times before, will set the go down in history as some of the most eye-catching in the history of the Lionesses.

But the road to the final was not always straight forward. England struggled to find their rhythm in a difficult opening win against Austria, before being pushed all the way in the quarter-finals in a comeback win over Spain.

READ: ‘That was lit’ — Splendid goal from Alessia Russo on the heels sends fans flocking as England advance to Euro 2022 final
Chloe Kelly and Lauren Hemp celebrate after their 8-0 win over Norway.

However, England will certainly be happy to have been put to the test ahead of their toughest match yet. Germany boasts an extraordinary record in the European Championship, winning eight of the 12 editions that have fought and reigned over the Euro crown for 22 years, until their quarter-final defeat in the Netherlands five years ago.

Head coach Sarina Wiegman, who led her native Netherlands to victory at Euro 2017, is well aware of how important an England win on Sunday can be for women’s football in the country.

“I think we have already been an inspiration to the country,” she told reporters per Reuters on Friday. “You know, if you win a big tournament it really makes a difference and that would make me very proud. But I don’t think beyond that. Usually you don’t realize the impact until probably 15 years later.”

“We’re approaching this game exactly like any other game we’ve played. We’re not talking about the England-Germany rivalry, we want to show how good we are and play our best game.”

“There’s so much eagerness in this team to win and so much resilience. We’re so eager to show again that we’re the best and play our best game. That’s what we’ve been trying to do all along and then hopefully, that will take us to victory.”

‘Nothing left to lose’

Alexandra Popp, who has become the star of Germany at this European Championship with six goals in five matches, is one of the best feel-good stories of the summer.

The 31-year-old missed the European Championships in 2013 and 2017 with injury and it looked as though she might miss it after injuring her knee last year, but Popp was finally able to compete when the tournament was postponed by a year as as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

She certainly made up for lost time and was visibly moved after she scored in the opening win against Denmark, dropped to her knees and covered her face with her hands.

Alexandra Popp's six goals at Euro 2022 equal the record ever in one tournament.

Popp’s six goals at Euro 2022, matched only by England’s Beth Mead, equal the previous best goal at one Euro achieved by compatriot Inka Grings in Finland 2009.

“I think the pressure is more on the English side, precisely because it takes place domestically,” Popp told reporters at a press conference on Friday. “We know that from 2011 [when Germany hosted the World Cup]Suddenly everyone expects something from you.

“We have nothing more to lose. With that attitude we can enter the game completely freely.”

There certainly doesn’t seem to be any nerves in the German camp ahead of the final, with Popp coming to the press conference with a mustache hidden under her mask. “Hello,” she said, greeting the reporters in a gruff voice.

After her match-winning performance against France in the semi-finals, German outlets SMOKE and Der Postillon posted satirical messages stating that national team coach Hansi Flick had called up a new striker for Qatar, accompanied by a photo of Popp in a mustache using the pseudonyms Alexander Bopp and Alexander Papp.

The attacker will undoubtedly be the biggest threat facing England at Wembley on Sunday and it is likely that an instinctive moment from Popp or Mead could decide the match.

These two teams have a brilliant defensive record throughout this tournament, conceding just one goal each, and it’s likely that their miserly back lines will be hard to break in the final.

Alexandra Popp wore a fake mustache at her pre-match press conference on Friday.

‘Excellent’

The quality shown at Euro 2022 only highlights the accelerated growth of women’s play across the continent in recent years as football federations have finally started investing seriously in their teams.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, who says he has closely followed Germany’s progress, said women’s football has “exploded” in recent years.

“I really have to say I love women’s football, it’s excellent,” Klopp said at a press conference on Thursday.

“The quality of the tournament is amazing. England are doing exceptionally well. I’ve seen three games from Germany, they’ve done really well too. It’s a really good final – two intense teams facing each other.”

“As much as I love England, in this particular case my heart is with the German side, but the better team could win and I’m totally fine with that. At a sold-out Wembley with an English crowd, it will be a huge challenge for us.” Germany.

“The most important thing is the face of women’s football, it’s a fantastic game. Women’s football has exploded in their development in recent years. It’s tactically and technically at an incredibly high level. The intensity of the games – physically it’s real, really good and I look forward to seeing it.

“England is a slight favorite to play at home, but Germany has a chance.”

Following the defeat in the men’s European Championship final last summer, England fans will be desperate to avoid a double heartbreak. But against a German team desperate to regain its European crown, that’s a very likely possibility.

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