What has changed for the Lionesses since winning Euro 2022?
In the year since England were crowned European champions at Wembley, Sarina Wiegman’s side have continued to impress, but there have been changes. As they go in search of football’s main prize, this is what is different about the Lionesses.
Key players needed
The pictures of European Championship top scorer Beth Mead, captain Leah Williamson and No.10 Fran Kirby at Wimbledon last weekend for tennis were a reminder of how famous the trio have become, but also that injuries ruled him out of the World Cup. . They will be greatly missed but their absence allows others to step up and seize the moment.
Alex Greenwood is a more capable replacement as the main ball-handler for Williamson. Chloe Kelly – another Manchester City player, and England’s goalscorer against Germany – or Chelsea’s Lauren James will replace Mead on the right wing. Manchester United’s Ella Toone, who also scored in the final, or James, will be asked to fill the void left by Kirby’s absence. Toone has played there for most of the last 12 months, but James is an exciting young talent and could be the breakout star of this tournament.
As an attack, Alessia Russo, last year’s top assistant director and one of the most famous faces in the cast, was given the job to replace the retired Ellen White, although she is the facing strong competition from Rachel Daly.
In midfield, Jordan Nobbs, who has missed the last two tournaments due to injuries, will take Jill Scott’s role as an impact substitute and elder statesman.
England’s record under Wiegman is impressive, with just one defeat in 32 games. As European champions, England is rightly considered one of the World Cup winners. They have beaten all the top teams over the past few years, including the US champions in the autumn, but now walk around with a big target on the back.
Everyone knows how to play, what they like to do and what their weaknesses are. When you are one of the teams to beat, it becomes more difficult to keep winning. We don’t know how England will cope with this new pressure at a tournament, especially as they slipped disappointingly against Australia in April and were not at their best against Portugal on the this month.
The lack of competitive warm-up games means we don’t really know how the Lionesses rank against the other competitors. That loss to Australia, who also defeated Great Britain at the 2021 Olympics, was a small bump in the road or a sign of a serious decline.
It’s rare to come across a player who is as impressive at left-back as she is at centre-forward, but England have that luxury. Daly played every game at left-back in the Euros but played the entire season as a striker for Aston Villa and was England’s leading goalscorer in the Women’s Super League during the campaign.
She outperformed Russo at club level and started the friendly against Portugal this month. The biggest glimpse into how Wiegman plans to use her is in the squad number: nine. It will be interesting to see if she can get the goals needed to keep England on track, especially in the knockout rounds.
A new look
England will look a little different from last summer as they will no longer be playing in white shorts due to concerns about playing in their time. As Mead said last year: “It’s great to have a white kit, but sometimes it’s not practical when it’s that time of the month.
“We’ll deal with it [menstruation] as best we can but we discussed the issue of the shorts together as a team and put our ideas through.”
The switch to blue shorts was announced in April and, according to Nike, they also feature “leak protection” – an ultra-thin, absorbent lining that helps protect against time leaks.
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