Euro 2022 Final: 6 potential key factors.
England vs Germany. Euro 2022 Final. 5pm. Wembley. Tomorrow.
87,000 expected at Wembley.
In front of over 68,000 at Old Trafford, England looked very edgy in the opening game against Austria.
They haven’t looked as edgy since, but in the two knockout games the starts have been almost painfully lethargic. This could very well have been mix of nerves and just general poor play.
They can’t start slowly again, Germany won’t be waiting for anyone.
England will have centred themselves after the euphoric semi-final win, but it will be interesting to see how they react.
Germany too - although you’d expect they’d relish the prospect of ruining the home nation’s dream.
Germany efficient with and without the ball.
Germany look just as comfortable without the ball as they do with it - beating Spain 2-0 with 34% possession is the best example.
They are disciplined, organised and get players back behind the ball quickly. They have looked the most defensively sound team in the tournament.
England can sort of cope without the ball - only just though.
They managed to beat Spain, but large periods of the game were very uncomfortable. Sweden also had England looking very uncomfortable without the ball for 25 minutes.
In her press conference the other day, Martina Voss Tecklenburg said words which suggest that Sweden have given Germany a blueprint on how to cause England problems.
Really then, England need to first have the ball, and then move it quickly and fluidly to cause Germany’s structure some issues. Germany need to fly out the blocks and press England high.
Where could the game be won?
Alexandra Popp vs Millie Bright and Leah Williamson:
Germany have had 7 different goal scorers, but only two have scored more than one goal. Lina Magull has 2 and Alexandra Popp has 6.
Popp is not messing around. England need to nullify her.
Popp is very good in the air and is a very effective physical presence - amongst other things.
Bright has been heading anything within a 5km radius of her thus far, so will Popp try to target Williamson in the air?
Ideally, to nullify Popp’s threat, England stop the ball getting to her.
Svenja Huth and Klara Bühl (who is out of the final) have both been very good for Germany in the wide areas. As was Jule Brand who came in for Bühl against France
They’ve also got none other than last seasons Champions League top goal scorer, Tabea Waßmuth, on the bench - which says it all.
England’s full backs have been a bit of a weak point and are left very exposed, particularly when England turn the ball over. They need to stop crosses getting into Popp though, as a matter of priority.
For England, Beth Mead has obviously been England’s talis(wo)man thus far with 6 goals, and Lauren Hemp looked a bit more like usual self against Sweden.
They’re not going to be afforded nearly as much space against Germany though, so will need to be on it - but when England do get going, they get going emphatically.
England’s starting midfielders - Walsh, Stanway and Kirby - have at times been three of the Lionesses best players.
However, England’s midfield has also looked very flimsy at times. Particularly against Sweden when the ball was constantly being turned over and they were struggling to cope under the press.
For Germany, Lena Oberdorf has been one of, if not the outstanding, player of the tournament. The biggest cog in Germany’s structure, she reads the game impeccably, has a large passing range and great mobility.
It’s likely going to be Magull and Sara Dabritz starting alongside her. They both haven’t quite hit their heights recently, but have still looked robust.
It’s not groundbreaking to suggest that England’s substitution’s have been their biggest weapon.
Alessia Russo, Ella Toone and Chloe Kelly have come on in every game - Alex Greenwood in all but one. They have all played well, it will be surprising if all of them are not utilised again tomorrow.
Germany’s substitutes have not been such a weapon - but they haven’t really needed to be. Saying that, Sydney Lohmann was excellent off the bench against France, and they have the likes of Waßmuth, Lattwein and Dallmann.
Dependent on how the games pans out, substitutions could win - or lose - the game.
30 games down, 1 defining game remaining. Two deserving teams in it. May the best one win.