Reflections on Euros and the Copa America women’s finals

by Andrew Crawshaw

Heartbreak for Germany in the warmup to the game as their leading goalscorer suffered a muscular injury meaning that she could play no part in the game where she was scheduled to start.  An omen for England perhaps, who had no such problems with our leading scorer Beth Mead.

Wembley was sold out over 87,000 in the stadium, mostly supporting England but a substantial following for Germany as well.  Serena Wiegman started with the same lineup as in the other England matches

Mary Earps (Manchester United)

Rachel Daly (Houston Dash), Leah Williamson (C) (Arsenal), Millie Bright (Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (Barcelona next season)

Kiera Walsh (Manchester City), Georgia Stanway (Bayern Munich next season), 

Lauren Hemp (Manchester City), Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Beth Mead (Arsenal)

Ellen White (Manchester City)

For once England didn’t have a slow start and were on top from the outset.  The game was bitty, full of niggling fouls which seemed to be what the German team wanted and the referee didn’t seem in full control at times.  Midway through the first half both Georgia Stanway and Ellen White were given yellow cards, both were undoubtedly fouls but neither looked any worse than similar challenges made by the German players that didn’t earn that level of sanction.  A quick VAR check was carried out for a possible penalty to Germany (not given by the referee and no obvious error) and the first half ended in a disappointing, from the English point of view, goalless tie.

The Germans made a halftime substitution with Tabea Waßmuth replacing Julie Brand.  I remember Tabea scoring the opening goal against us from our Champions League Quarter Final match against Wolfsburg last season and she is a terrific player so I was a little concerned.  Germany immediately looked to be more on top than they were in the first half.  England made the first substitutions earlier than in previous games with Alessia Russo and Ella Toone (both Manchester United) replacing the tiring Ellen White and Fran Kirby.

Just before the hour mark the game got really nasty.  Oberdorf and Schuller both got yellow cards and Beth Mead was left in a heap on the turf from a really nasty challenge.  In the 62nd minute Ella Toone latched on to a beautiful defence-splitting pass from Kiera Walsh.  She ran towards the penalty area and played a perfect lob over Frohms in the German goal.  One-nil to England.  In the 64th minute Beth Mead was unable to continue and was replaced by Chloe Kelly (Manchester City but a product of the Arsenal academy).  Beth was reasonably certain of getting the award for the golden boot though (unless something extraordinary happened).

Lina McGull made the increasing German pressure tell with 11 minutes of normal time to go beating Mary Earps with a good finish at the near post.  This was about the only time that Leah Williamson was pulled out of position as she had to go wide to cover the German winger.  A tense finish to normal time with England successfully repelling wave after wave of German pressure.  Old heads Jill Scott (Manchester City, but recently on loan with Aston Villa) and Alex Greenwood (Manchester City) replaced Georgia Stanway and Rachel Daly helping to ‘steady the ship’.

The first half of extra time followed the same pattern, albeit that England looked more composed and Germany increasingly desperate.  Into the last 15 minutes with the dreadful spectre of penalties looming.

England won a corner the ball bobbled around and came to Kelly on the edge of the 6-yard box.  She had an almighty swing at the ball and completely missed it.  She then regained a modicum of composure and got a toe poke through the German defenders into the net and started the most extraordinary goal celebration I have ever seen in a Women’s game, rightly getting a yellow card for removing her shirt.  England ahead 2 – 1 with 10 minutes to go.

How would we be with game management?  Could we keep the ball?  The answers were soon evident.  We kept the ball down by the right-hand corner flag at the German end for at least half of the remaining time.  We failed to rise to the provocation from the German players and saw out the game reasonably comfortably.  Cue nationalistic celebrations, media hype and predictions of a fantastic future for Women’s football.

Leah Williamson lifted the main trophy, Beth Mead got the award for the Golden boot (six goals scored as well as five assists) and also the trophy for the player of the tournament.  Winners’ medals for Lotte Wubben-Moy, an unused substitute throughout but providing cover in case either of Leah Williamson or Millie Bright picked up an injury, and for Nikita Parris whose transfer from Arsenal to Manchester United is expected to be confirmed in the next week or so.

A final word about the BBC punditry team who were excellent, Ian Wright, Alex Scott were ably balanced by Jonas Eidevall our Ladies Manager who was well able to put the German perspective across when necessary.

One final point.  this wasn’t the only international tournament going on.  The Copa América Femenina final between Colombia and Brazil also took place on Sunday with our defender Rafaelle de Souza who was captaining Brazil also picking up a winner’s medal as Brazil won 1 – 0 thanks to a 39th-minute penalty.


So what for the future?

  • The Arsenal players now have two weeks’ holiday.  Players not involved in international tournaments started pre-season training last week.
  • Please ensure that the success of this tournament – and be in no doubt that it has been a huge success – is carried over into the women’s league matches.  All clubs need supporters to turn up, pay their money and watch the games.  There will be three Arsenal league matches held at the Emirates Stadium.  The first is the North London Derby with tickets already on sale.  
  • The ‘normal ‘ home for Arsenal Women is at Borehamwood.  This is a much smaller ground with a far more intimate and friendly atmosphere.  Watching a game there is an ideal way to introduce youngsters and ‘novice supporters’ to live professional football.  If you can’t get to watch an Arsenal Women’s game then please go to whichever club is nearest to where you live and lend support there, it won’t cost a fortune and I can almost guarantee that you will enjoy the experience.
  • The 2023 Women’s World Cup is to be held in Australia and New Zealand.  Qualifying is well underway and England are almost certain to be there.  Without doubt, this will cause a major interruption to the second half of the domestic season as a number of Arsenal players will be involved.  England and Brazil will be among the favourites.
  • Financially the England players will now see their incomes rise dramatically as firms offer lucrative sponsorship and appearance deals.  I just hope they prove better able to cope with new found wealth than many of their male teammates.
  • The Arsenal season starts with an away match against Manchester City on the weekend of September 10/11 with our first home match at Borehamwood the following weekend.

One Reply to “Reflections on Euros and the Copa America women’s finals”

  1. Thanks for this series of articles, Andrew! I caught a half-dozen or so games from the Euros (as well as a few from the CONCACAF W tournament that wrapped in July), and I appreciated being able to compare notes.

    Just wish there was a pro team in my area (San Francisco area, you’d think we’d be in the vanguard…)

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