Williamson: ‘it's advantage England'

Arsenal defender Leah Williamson backs Wembley crowd to give Lionesses the edge in Euro 2022 final against Germany this afternoon

Sunday, 31st July — By Catherine Etoe

England Euro 2022

The England players gearing up to tackle Germany

ARSENAL defender Leah Williamson will lead England out for the last time at Euro 2022 today in a winner-takes-all final with world No.5 Germany at Wembley Stadium.

It is, effectively, home advantage for Sarina Wiegman’s side as they seek to secure a first-ever European title after a campaign that has seen them concede just one goal.

Germany are a formidable foe and historically have emerged as champions in eight previous Euro finals, including a 6-2 humbling of England back in 2009.

England’s only other run to the final was a two-legged affair in 1984 that was eventually settled in Sweden’s favour after a penalty shoot-out on a muddy pitch in Luton.

But when skipper Williamson met the press at Wembley on Saturday, the 25-year-old said she hoped a packed house could give the team a boost in this latest push for glory.

“Nobody ever had a home game where they didn’t have an advantage because naturally there will be more people here for us than Germany and this is our national stadium,” she said.

“We’ve played here a couple of times, which has put us in good stead, it’s familiar to us, so it’s definitely an advantage.

“The support that we’ve had from those people that will fill those seats has been incredible so far so it’s an exciting thought that we’ll have that on our side.”

Williamson knows all about the impact a massive crowd can have at Wembley – as a teenager she was there when Team GB beat Brazil 1-0 at the London 2012 Olympics.

That thrilling match, 10 years ago today, was attended by more than 70,000 fans and it felt for many in the game like a turning point for the sport.

But the media attention and public interest it captured eventually waned and Williamson hopes that will not be the case after this attendance-record-smashing home Euros.

“I was in the crowd that day, another amazing opportunity for me that my parents facilitated to put women’s football in front of my face,” Williamson said.

“[It] convinced me it was the norm at the time, and I think [today] will be another moment like that. It’s incredible that that happened, [but] the fall-off since that, we hope that’s not what happens after this tournament.

“I think that’s the main thing, that everybody that’s got on board stays with us. We can’t have a lack of interest post this tournament.”

More immediately, however, is today’s final. England can look back on a recent victory against Germany on home soil after having beaten Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s side 3-1 in the Arnold Clark Cup in February.

But the last time England played Germany at Wembley, in 2019, they lost 2-1 and that crushing Euro 2009 defeat still looms largest in the memory.

This is, however, a very different national side to then, with the current crop enjoying professional careers and an unbeaten run of 19 matches under Wiegman.

Arsenal’s own Beth Mead became the first England player to score a hat-trick at Wembley the last time they played there, against Northern Ireland in October 2021.

With six goals in her locker, the golden boot could be hers, although Germany captain Alexandra Popp, who has the same tally at Euro 2022, might have something to say about that.

The match kicks off at 5pm and is live on BBC1 from 3.50pm.

 

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