Talking Tactics: Lionesses look to lay down a marker in Euros warm-up
England are sending a message to their rivals ahead of Women's Euro 2022 — the Lionesses mean business.
Sarina Wiegman's outfit laid down a marker during their 3-0 friendly victory over Belgium, in a thoroughly dominant performance against the Red Flames.
And they will be looking to make another statement against the Netherlands at Elland Road tonight.
As England prepare for that clash with their coach's former side, we take a look at how the European Championship hosts are shaping up.
Wiegman was appointed as England manager in September 2021 and they are yet to lose a match with her in the dugout.
The Lionesses have won 10 and drawn two of those 12 games, scoring an incredible 75 goals — including a 20-0 demolition of Latvia and three further 10-goal victories.
That streak will ultimately end, of course. It is just a matter of when it does and how the team reacts.
But maintaining that positive sequence of results will give England plenty of confidence, ahead of their Group A fixtures next month.
England had five times more shots than Belgium at Molineux, while landing 10 efforts on target to their opponent's one.
They were in complete control, yet the deadlock was only broken after the hour mark.
The Lionesses were careless in front of goal for large periods and it is something that Wiegman will no doubt be keeping an eye on.
Speaking in her post-match press conference, she said: "The first half, we played well, we created but didn't score.
"We needed some more depth in the game, runs in behind. We did that a little better in the second half.
"When you win 3-0 it's enough, but when we go into the Euros we need a little more ruthlessness.
"We have a plan when we play. Of course, we want to score the chances, but as long as you don't concede you have time. We dominate the game and then you have to have patience.
"There comes a moment when we do score that one. Yes, we want to do it earlier but in the final third we have to be a little more ruthless."
Mixing it up
In their last competitive match — a 5-0 World Cup qualifying win over Northern Ireland — the Lionesses utilised a 4-3-3 system.
Of course, formations are just starting positions and can be fairly fluid during a match — but it was noteworthy that Wiegman sent her team out in a 4-2-3-1 shape against Belgium.
Georgia Stanway was deployed in the No10 role, tasked with supporting Ellen White while also giving the wide players options when in possession.
It may only be a subtle tweak but it could make all the difference. After all, instead of attacking with three players, you are attacking with four.
That extra body in the final third can be a game-changer against teams determined to sit deep and soak up pressure.
It will be fascinating to see if England approach this evening's match against the highly-regarded Netherlands in the same manner.
England did not just dominate the ball against Belgium — they subdued the visitors without it.
One of the standout aspects of that performance was just how aggressive the hosts were when pressing.
They smothered the Red Flames and frequently regained possession in the final third. In fact, a number of their presses resulted in chances.
That weapon in the Lionesses' armoury should not be underestimated — and plenty of the world's best sides would struggle to play out from the back against this unit.
They will have the opportunity to fine-tune that approach against the highly-proficient Oranje tonight.
A true test
Wiegman is spoilt for choice up front and her attacking options are the envy of Europe.
Yet the Netherlands boast arguably the biggest threat at Euro 2022 in Arsenal's Vivianne Miedema.
She is a player who will be familiar to plenty of the Lionesses' squad, though that will not make shutting her out of this evening's game any easier.
However, if England's rearguard are able to blunt the Gunners' No11 — just as they did to Tessa Wullaert in their last outing — it would represent an emphatic statement ahead of this summer's tournament.