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Euro 2022 gives rise to a new women’s soccer superpower – England

The scenes at Wembley after the final whistle of Sunday’s Euro 2022 final were reflective of a country liberated. For decades, English soccer had been haunted by the failure of its national team on the men’s and women’s side. Many believed football would never come home, but this was not the case among Sarina Wiegman’s Lionesses.

There was a self-assurance to England’s play throughout Euro 2022. They controlled a number of matches, including the 8-0 demolition of Norway in the group stage, but also responded well to adversity when it came their way – with England’s fight back from a 1-0 deficit to beat Spain in the quarter-finals serving as the chief example.

Even when Germany equalised in Sunday’s final, played in front of a record crowd of nearly 90,000 fans, there was a sense that England would find a way to win. And so they did, as Chloe Kelly prodded home an extra time winner to crown the Lionesses European champions for the first time in their history.

England can achieve even more. Planning for the 2023 World Cup will now start with Wiegman’s team sure to be counted among the favourites to lift the trophy. The USA will still be the team to beat, given that they have won back-to-back World Cups in 2015 and 2019, but England are certainly a rising threat in the women’s game.

“One is not enough – we want more,” Kelly, who scored the winner against Germany, said. “Looking at this medal makes you so much hungrier for more. The World Cup is around the corner. I want to win trophies. As a young girl you grow up seeing people win trophies and we’re here doing that.”

On talent, there’s no doubt England can win the Women’s World Cup. They have made the semi-finals of the last two tournaments and have improved since then. Wiegman is widely revered as one of the best coaches in the international game and England have a good mix of youth and experience. A lot of things are currently in their favour.

“The Euros is fantastic, especially in my home country, but there is a little star missing from our crest at the minute on the England shirt. That’s definitely a miss,” England Lucy Bronze said in the aftermath of Sunday’s Women’s Euro 2022 triumph. “We know there are plenty of teams outside of Europe who want to compete for that World Cup as well as the teams in Europe who were in this tournament. I guess it’s up for grabs and we’re in a good place at the minute.”

Bronze’s remarks suggest there is already intent within the England dressing room to take further steps forward. The likes of France, Germany and Spain will also have their sights set on winning next year’s Women’s World Cup, but England have the greatest momentum behind them.

England might sometimes be guilty of arrogance when assessing its own standing in the soccer world, but there’s no denying it is the quintessential soccer nation. That England has now found a passion for the women’s game should serve as a warning to the rest of the sport. This might just be the start for the Lionesses as a women’s soccer superpower.

The future is certainly bright for England. Ellen White, Rachel Daley and Bronze, among others, are experienced figures at international level, but there is an emergent core of youngsters now making their mark. Ella Toone, who scored the opener in the Euro 2022 final, is part of that core.

Toone is only 22 years old and is widely expected to be an important figure for the Lionesses for years to come. Alessia Russo who scored four times over the course of the tournament is still only 23 and is being lined up to succeed White as England’s attacking focal point. Lauren Hemp, only 21, is already a first team player and started all six games at Women’s Euro 2022.

Competition is stiff at the top of the women’s game, and it’s getting stiffer with every passing year. England, however, have reason to believe they are better equipped than most to float highest on the rising tide. Glory on home soil at Euro 2022 could lead to something even bigger in a year’s time. 

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