Long road to Wembley: Key reasons behind England’s run to Euro final

The arrival of Wiegman

The appointment of a manager of Sarina Wiegman’s pedigree has been crucial to the progress of this England side. Since arriving last fall, she has instilled confidence in the Lionesses which has led to a 19-game unbeaten run, winning 17 and scoring 104 goals. Tactically astute and unafraid to stick to her guns, she has proven her ability to turn the tide of a match with a substitution. Moreover, she has already won this competition, guiding her native Netherlands to the Euro 2017 title. Having the results to back up her instructions can only help get players on board.

Team role

Depth in a tournament is crucial and England have it in abundance. All 23 play professionally and all but one played regularly in the Women’s Super League last season – Rachel Daly playing for Houston Dash in the US National Women’s Soccer League. They spent a lot of time in the field, gaining vital experience. Wiegman rarely changes her starting lineup — she’s named the same 11 for every game this tournament — but her use of the bench has been key. His finishing players play a vital role, whether it’s making an impact in front of goal or adding cover to help them see a game.

Ella Toone (left) was key off the bench for England as runners-up Sarina Wiegman made their mark. Photograph: Lynne Cameron/The FA/Getty Images

Strong youth course

England are reaping the rewards of a strong youth system. Five of the Lionesses have played together since they were young. Alessia Russo, Georgia Stanway, Ella Toone, Ellie Roebuck and Lotte Wubben-Moy reached the quarter-finals of the 2016 Under-17 World Cup in Jordan before three of the five won bronze medals in the 2018 edition of the under 20s. by Chloe Kelly and Lauren Hemp. Wubben-Moy missed that, while Toone was injured, but those tournaments provided crucial development opportunities. There is a DNA that runs through English football. Mo Marley, who coached those two age group campaigns and influenced the careers of so many Lionesses, came out of retirement to start an Under-23 team, and Wiegman ensured that the coaches all along the course have their say.

Mo Marley (second left) has been brought out of retirement to oversee England's Under-23 side this year
Mo Marley (second from left) has been brought out of retirement to oversee England’s Under-23 side this year, having helped bring much of the current senior crop through. Photography: Aitor Alcalde/The FA/Getty Images

Pandemic delay

If there is one team that has taken advantage of the one-year delay due to Covid, it is England. A year ago, the Lionesses were a shadow of their former selves, without a permanent manager after the departure of Phil Neville and having seen declining results since the 2019 World Cup. which included competitive World Cup qualifying, allowed this team to find their feet and Wiegman to set up their vision, while giving young players an extended period of time to fold.

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AM investment

The Football Association’s growth plan for 2017-20 has provided a solid foundation to create an environment conducive to success. The first two targets of doubling attendance and attendance have been achieved and the England team’s target for success has seen them reach three successive semi-finals and now a major final within the time limit. The FA has supported women’s football, investing significantly in the Lionesses but also in domestic football. The professionalization of the WSL, sponsorship from companies such as Barclays and the unparalleled support staff employed for the national team have all contributed.

Organize this tournament

Hosting a major football competition can work both ways. This can increase the pressure considerably, especially in a country so consumed by football. But it can also provide the vital support needed to give teams the energy to push the line. One only has to listen to the roar of 28,994 at Brighton for the quarter-final win over Spain to understand just how much of a part sold-out partisan stadiums play a role. After the game, Wiegman was keen to recognize how essential the fans were. “Today showed what the fans have done for us,” she said. “It was definitely a home advantage.”

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