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Talking Tactics: Lionesses looking to lay down a marker against Austria
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Sean Wilson
LiveScore
Women's Euro 2022 will be Sarina Wiegman’s first major international competition with England
Women's Euro 2022 will be Sarina Wiegman’s first major international competition with England

England kick off their Women's Euro 2022 campaign against Austria — likely to be their fiercest challengers for top spot in Group A.

Sarina Wiegman's Lionesses go into the clash on the back of a 14-game unbeaten streak but will not be expecting an easy victory at Old Trafford.

The last meeting between the pair was settled by a goal from England's Ellen White in World Cup 2023 qualification — and the hosts will be hoping to come out on top once again.

Ahead of tonight's encounter, we pick out five key talking points from the tournament’s opening match in Manchester.

Perfect preparation

England could hardly be heading into this summer's showpiece in better form.

The Lionesses have yet to lose since Wiegman took charge last September, winning 12 and drawing two of her 14 games so far.

Additionally, they won all three of their warm-up games — and by convincing scorelines at that.

England beat Belgium 3-0, thumped reigning European champions Netherlands 5-1 and thrashed Switzerland 4-0, to ensure perfect preparation for Euro 2022.

England’s 4-0 triumph over Switzerland provided the perfect preparation for this summer’s tournament
England’s 4-0 triumph over Switzerland provided the perfect preparation for this summer’s tournament

'A very good place'

Speaking after victory over the Swiss last week, Wiegman felt her side still had room for improvement — but that they were in good shape going into the tournament.

She said: "It was a very good result [against Switzerland], we scored a lot of goals in the second half which showed we have a very fit team.

"They got tired, we brought on some substitutes and it also showed again that we don't play with 11 players, we have so many more in our squad and can make a change in the second half.

"We started well, had three big chances at the start of the game, and it would've been easy to score those goals. But when we didn't, they got some chances and we have to do a little better at that.

"We had to speed up the game in the first half, the ball tempo was too low, and then they can organise all the time. We did that better in the second half and they got more tired.

"We always have things to improve, I think we're in a very good place but that'll show in the Euros.

"These are all friendlies, it's very nice to learn from them but it really starts next Wednesday. We're in a very good place but still have to improve a couple of things."

Selection dilemmas

As Wiegman alluded to, one of England's greatest strengths is their squad depth.

However, that presents the Lionesses boss with a problem to solve, even if it is the cliched 'nice headache to have'.

It is not entirely clear what England's strongest line-up is, which ensures healthy competition internally and leaves opponents unsure which starting XI to prepare for.

Chief among her concerns will be the deployment of captain Leah Williamson.

A centre-back for Arsenal, she operated further forward in a midfield pivot — until the final warm-up win over Switzerland, where she dropped back into defence.

Which No9?

Alessia Russo staked a claim for more starts during England's pre-Euro 2022 friendlies
Alessia Russo staked a claim for more starts during England's pre-Euro 2022 friendlies

It is also not certain which centre forward Wiegman will pick against Austria.

White is England's all-time top scorer with 50 goals in 107 caps — but recently tested positive for coronavirus and Alessia Russo has performed admirably in her absence.

The 23-year-old found the net in the Lionesses' last game against Switzerland and was Manchester United's top scorer last season.

If White's fitness levels have been affected by her positive test, it could open the door for Russo.

Impact substitutes

Another benefit of England's strength in depth is that they possess the ability to change the game late on.

Despite the big scorelines racked up in their last three friendlies, 11 of the 12 goals they scored came after half-time and seven were scored by substitutes.

Those numbers might raise concerns about the Lionesses' first-half performances.

But Wiegman can take comfort in the knowledge that she has high-quality options on the bench, to make an impact when opponents are starting to tire.

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EnglandAustriaWomen’s Euro 2022
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