Talking Tactics: Germany stand in the way of Lionesses history
England will bid to win their first ever major trophy when they face Germany in the Women’s Euro 2022 final at a packed-out Wembley.
The Lionesses have inspired the nation with their thrilling run to this stage but in eight-time winners Die Nationalelf, will likely face their toughest test yet.
Ahead of this evening’s clash, we look at where the game could be won and lost.
While it is only England’s third European Championship final, Germany are no strangers to this kind of occasion having reached their ninth.
What is more, they have won all eight of their previous appearances — including a 6-2 victory over England in 2009.
Past meetings also point in the way of Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s side, with England winning just two of the 27 games between the pair.
But this is an England team unlike the ones Germany will have faced in previous tournaments, with the Lionesses looking a different animal under Sarina Wiegman.
The 3-1 victory for England — their first ever on German soil — when the two sides met in February suggests their dominance in this fixture could be waning.
Clash of the heavyweights
It is hard to argue against the idea that in England and Germany, the tournament’s best two teams have reached the final.
Wiegman’s side have played with swagger and style throughout with only one team in the competition’s history managing more than the 20 goals they have so far, spread out across eight different scorers.
Despite not being considered one of the pre-tournament favourites, it has been similarly difficult to fault Germany’s showing.
They have powered through with remarkable efficiency — no opposition player has been able to find a way through their rearguard as yet.
Voss-Tecklenburg is in no doubt the showpiece has all the makings of a classic.
After ensuring progression to the final with a 2-1 win over France, the German coach said: "It's a classic game, it will be an incredible final. We look forward to this game, as everyone will do in England and in Germany.
"England have been incredible in this tournament every single game for dynamism, lots of goals and they are so incredibly confident.
"It will be a great football feast."
The golden girls
Beth Mead and Alexandra Popp’s battle to finish as the Euro 2022 top scorer is another fascinating sub-plot to this final.
The pair differ in their playing style but share a ruthlessness in front of goal, each netting six goals so far.
Mead, 27, has found joy from drifting in from the right wing and showing the ability to find the net with either foot.
Germany’s No11 is more of a classic centre forward, with her movement and exceptional heading ability making her a nightmare for opposition defences to deal with.
The semi-final clashes were a clear indicator of the duo’s importance to their respective teams.
Mead’s smart finish came after a period of early dominance by Sweden as England eventually ran out 4-0 winners, before Popp netted twice to see off France a day later.
A goal at Wembley could well seal the award for either player but as the Germany captain insists, Sunday is about the team’s efforts rather than individual accolades.
After her double on Wednesday, the striker said: "It's not my objective that I want to win the Golden Boot — the main objective is to win the European Championship.
"If I have the opportunity to win the Golden Boot it would be nice but if it does not happen and three of my other team-mates score goals, I'll be very happy."
Start could be key
For all of the brilliance of England’s demolishing of Sweden, the opening minutes at Bramall Lane had many fans watching on nervously.
Slow starts have been something of a common theme for the Lionesses at this tournament and while Sweden failed to capitalise, there is every chance Die Nationalelf will.
Boss Voss-Tecklenburg has already identified this as an area her team could exploit against the free-flowing hosts.
She said: "They know what they have to do but in the first 30 minutes against Sweden they showed you can hurt them and that will be our task."
With the Wembley showpiece bound to produce nerves, the side who settles down first in the early stages could well be the one that assumes control.
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