Football – Euro 2022 – Sarina Wiegman, the new victory asset of the Three Lionesses

England has only one thing in mind: to win their Euro, at home, at home. And to help him, the president of the English Federation has put all the means on his side by hiring Sarina Wiegman to help his team take a step forward. After a perfectly managed group stage with three victories punctuated by 14 goals scored, the quarter-final against Spain was another story. Abused for 70 minutes, the English team ended up getting out in extremis (2-1). And the presence of the Dutch coach was not for nothing.

The negative Covid test suffered by Sarina Wiegman (52) just hours before the match, after several days of isolation, may have been one of the major turning points of the tournament. Trailing 1-0 at the start of the second half and suffering from the Spanish possession game, it was coaching inspired by their coach that made the difference: substitutes Alexia Russo and Ella Toone combined to equalize six minutes from time. regulatory.

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Sarina Wiegman

Credit: Eurosport

A missile from Georgia Stanway in the top corner, after 6 minutes in extra time, then sealed their place in the last four, like 5 years ago and like during the last two Worlds. Three halves ended in three defeats. But that was before Wiegman… The former professor of Physical Education and Sports remains, to this day, undefeated at the Euro with 10 wins in 10 matches, after taking the Netherlands to the crown at home, in 2017.

Decisions that make all the difference

At the departure of Phil Neville in January 2021, less than a year and a half before this Euro disputed at home, the English football federation had only one name in mind to sit on the bench of the « Lionesses »: Sarina Wiegman. The FA even agreed to postpone taking office until September 2021, after the Tokyo Olympics, where it still wanted to lead the Dutch. But the wait was worth it. In 18 matches under his command, England have not yet experienced defeat, while remaining on 6 losses in the last 10 meetings before his arrival.

Supported blindly by the authorities, her players and the supporters, she has free rein and she uses it. Sarina Wiegman did not hesitate to leave the emblematic captain Steph Houghton on the side of the road, considering him insufficiently recovered from an injury to an Achilles tendon. She also recalled Beth Mead to the bench, who had scored 5 goals and provided 3 assists in the first round, after only 58 minutes against Spain, just like the center forward with 109 caps and 52 goals Ellen White or the creator Fran Kirby, six minutes later.

Before the matches, « we talk about all the possible scenarios and we are prepared for it », she explained after the game. « It all starts with the quality of the players. We have so much quality in the group that it’s easy to decide on these changes because we know that the players who come in can make a difference. », she added modestly. But for his players, no doubt, the « X factor » is Wiegman.

« It’s coming home », second attempt

« We always had a game plan, but now we can express ourselves in it as players »had underlined the defender Millie Bright, questioned on what had changed Wiegman, of which she praised the empowerment of the players. « Sarina has this principle that the one with the ball makes the decisions. We have control, that’s really the thing I liked when she arrived, » she detailed.

« You don’t feel any pressure to play certain passes, it’s your decision and the team has to follow. If it was the wrong one, you learn to make a better decision the next time. Being able to play like that gives me a lot trust. I really feel free », had again pursued the one who was named player of the match against Spain.

Facing Sweden, world number 2 in the FIFA rankings, and in front of the 30,000 spectators who will fill the Sheffield stadium on Tuesday (9:00 p.m.), the march will still be very high. But with its workforce steeped in talent, one of the best coaches in the world and the support of an entire people, England intends to finally cross it.

(With AFP)

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