the English Lionesses launch the Women’s Euro

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After a year of postponement due to the health crisis, the Women’s Euro starts in England on Wednesday. At home, the English “Lionesses” open the ball against Austria and plan to win a first trophy.

With unprecedented popular support, England’s “Leeuwesses” (Lionesses) will launch an attack on “their” European Championship against Austria on Wednesday, July 6, in front of a record crowd for a match in the league, at Manchester United’s home ground, Old Trafford.

“Can’t wait any longer (…) we just want it to start!” Stuttered coach Sarina Wiegman on Wednesday evening. The 52-year-old Dutch manager, who led the Netherlands to victory at home in 2017, was created especially to help English players break their glass ceiling, those who stumbled in the semi-finals in two last Worlds and at the last euro.

Under his command, the English have already lost 14 games, with an 8-0 in North Macedonia and a 10-0 in Luxembourg. They tortured Latvia twice, 10-0 and then, last November, 20-0, the record of their biggest win. But above all, they took over Germany (3-1), winner of eight of the previous twelve euros, and, most recently, the Netherlands (5-1).

Strong popular support

Postponed by a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and also taking advantage of the November-December postponement of the Men’s World Cup in Qatar, which will therefore not saturate the media space at the start of the summer, these 13th European Women’s Racing Championships promise to be very promising and become spectacular.

“The level is now so high, it is very difficult to predict what the end of the tournament will look like,” Wiegman admitted on Tuesday. “A lot of countries are in good shape, so are we. In tournaments we sometimes see surprising things and we hope to take advantage of that,” she continued.

It is true that the tournament seems incredibly open. Germany, Spain – even deprived of its star Alexia Putellas victim of a cruciate ligament rupture – and Denmark, a finalist in 2017, are in the same group B, a real “group of death”, which will point out England’s potential opponent in the quarter-finals: these four countries can have legitimate ambitions.

Likewise, Norway, which is in the England group, remains a real threat, especially with the return of Ada Hegerberg, while Sweden and the title holders Netherlands, who go head-to-head in Group C, or France (Group D) can take away from anyone. to win .

All of this will take place under unprecedented media coverage of European women’s football, reflecting the rapid development of the past five years. More than 500,000 of the 750,000 tickets sold have already found fans and UEFA hopes for 250 million viewers. The opening match and the final will twice break the record for the number of spectators for a Euro women’s match to bring it to around 87,000.

A controversy surrounding the stadiums

While the prize money is light years ahead of the men’s, it has also been significantly revised upwards by UEFA to reflect its renewed competitiveness and maintain momentum.

“These great progress the sport is making will continue to positively influence people’s perception of women’s football, but we want to do more. Continue to raise the level of the leagues, starting with the youth teams, improve global visibility and compete at the highest level like this,” said UEFA director of women’s football, former German international Nadine Kessler.

This positive impression has been somewhat tarnished by the choice of stadiums, notably the Manchester Academy Stadium, which in Euro configuration cannot even accommodate 5,000 spectators, or the Leigh Sports Village, which has a maximum capacity of 7,800.

But once it starts, none of that matters and passion will take over. “We are not robots, there will be nervousness. We are well aware of the expectations outside, but inside the base camp it is above all the excitement and the will to take advantage of them.” Those dominate, England captain Leah Williamson assured.

“Ultimately, it’s my job. If I wasn’t ready for tomorrow and couldn’t enjoy it, then why should I be doing this job?” she added.

With AFP

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