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Wembley (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Between a host country, England, which dreams of a first major trophy, and Germany in search of its former glory, the final of the Women’s Football Euro, Sunday (6:00 p.m.) at Wembley, will crown a deserved champion at the end of a fierce competition.
Full stadiums, great atmosphere, intense and often spectacular matches, the competition will have more than met expectations three years – and a Covid-19 pandemic – after a World Cup-2019 in France which had already set the bar high. .
“All the matches were good in this Euro and we proved that it was not marketing. It was an excellent tournament on a sporting level”, welcomed Saturday the German coach, Martina Voss-Tecklenburg.
The final promises to be an apotheosis in a Wembley stadium which will approach 87,000 spectators, which would be a record for a men’s or women’s Euro match.
A victory for England would also be a resounding revenge 100 years after the sport was banned for women in 1921, only to be re-authorized in 1971.
The beautiful career of the “Lionesses” obviously contributed to this success and fueled an unprecedented enthusiasm for the women’s national team whose stars Beth Mead, Leah Williamson or coach Sarina Wiegman have become names known to many.
“The support we’ve had so far has been incredible and it’s an exciting thought to have them behind us,” admitted Williamson.
Arrived on a momentum of 14 matches without defeat since the appointment of the 52-year-old Dutchwoman, specifically recruited to win the competition, after leading the Netherlands to the coronation five years ago, the English did not disappoint.
Resilience and adaptability
There were indeed nervous starts for the opener against Austria or in the semi-final against Sweden, and a knife match against their Spanish nemesis in the quarter, but their resilience, adaptability and faith individual and collective in themselves have worked wonders.
The support of the public makes them the slight favourites, after having fallen in the semi-final stage at the last Euro and the last two Worlds.
Opposite, there will be a resurgent Germany which displays an almost equally impressive course.
Exited without trembling from a “group of death” with Spain and Denmark, finalists five years ago, the players of Martina Voss-Tecklenburg were jostled in the quarter by Austria and in the half by France.
But they have proven their ability to arch their backs and hit when it hurts, sometimes pressing very high or regrouping to close the gaps, like against Spain in the group stage.
Eight times crowned European champions, including six consecutively between 1995 and 2013, they have their experience for them.
Fierce tactical battle ahead
It is a fierce tactical battle that is coming and the absence of the very dynamic left winger Klara Bühl, representative of the new wave of German players, from the height of her 21 years, but still positive for Covid before the half, risks to weigh heavy.
The final will also be a distance duel between Beth Mead and Alexandra Popp for the title of top scorer of the tournament.
They both already have 6 goals, a tournament record for a player co-held with Germany’s Inka Grings in 2009, but Mead, with her 5 more assists, looks set to finish as the tournament’s best player. .
This finale could also be used to hunt some ghosts.
First of all, those of the men’s final more than a year ago where, even before the cruel defeat of the “Three Lions” on penalties against Italy (1-1 ap, 3 tab to 2), serious incidents around and in the stadium had largely tarnished the party.
With a much more feminine and family audience, no hostility has been felt so far and it seems unlikely that she will come on Sunday.
The English will certainly have in a corner of their minds the humiliating 6-2 suffered in the final of Euro-2009 in Helsinki, when most of them dreamed of one day participating in this competition.
Lucy Bronze, Jill Scott and Ellen White were already in the group at the time. But Sunday at 6:00 p.m., it is above all their own story that they will seek to write.
© 2022 AFP
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