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Fifty-six years after the World Cup won by men, England has finally won a new major title thanks to the victory of its women’s team in the final of the Euro against Germany (2-1 ap). This long-awaited trophy is the apotheosis of a competition that enjoyed record popular success.
“Your achievement goes far beyond the trophy you so well deserved. You have all set an example that will inspire the girls and women of today and generations to come.” The Queen of England Elizabeth II was one of the first, on Sunday July 31, mentioned in a press release the victory of the national women’s team in the final of the Euro, against Germany (2-1 ap).
As the sovereign pointed out, this triumph for the English Lionesses is a reflection of the growing popularity of women’s football in the country. Three years after a World Cup-2019, in France, which had already concretized the upward trajectory of women in football, and despite the Covid-19 pandemic passed by there, the English Euro ends with an indisputable success.
A popular success, first of all, as evidenced by the 87,192 spectators in the stands, far more than the record for a Men’s Euro match – 79,115 for the final of the 1964 edition between Spain, country- host, and the USSR (2-1). The total attendance of this Euro, with 574,875 supporters present in the stadiums, also pulverizes the best mark for the women’s continental competition, which was achieved five years ago in the Netherlands with 247,041 spectators.
Women’s football on the rise
Inflicting on the Germans their first defeat in the final of a Euro, they who have won eight out of 13 editions, the “Lionesses” have finished conquering the heart of a country which has gradually taken to the game.
“What this tournament will leave behind is above all the change in society. That’s all we did together by bringing people to the matches. But what this team will leave behind are also winners and this is just the beginning of the journey,” England defender and captain Leah Williamson said after the game.
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The attendance figures are vital to help the development of the discipline to continue but the level of play has also been in very clear progress, whether technically, tactically, or even athletically. The final was an illustration of this with a fierce battle between the two best teams in the tournament who held nothing back in the engagement and the duels.
Jostled by Germany, England won their very first title after extra time thanks to a goal from Chloe Kelly. “I arrived in the selection in 2015 and we reached a few semi-finals. But this group is extraordinary, with all these players coming off the bench to help us, that sums up this team well”, summed up midfielder Fran Kirby .
The players were able to count on the experience of Dutch coach Sarina Wiegman, already crowned five years ago with the Netherlands. The technician has not lost any of her 20 matches at the head of the “Lionesses” and won her 12 matches in a Euro. “When I took this position, I knew the team for having seen him play and I knew that the potential was so great in this country. There are so many players and good players, so I hope that would work. But the way it worked this year, we dreamed of it. And it’s great when it works as we hope it will,” she explained at a press conference.
A first final lost by Germany
For its part, Germany may regret having been deprived in the semi-finals of its winger Klara Bühl, positive for Covid-19, and, a few minutes before kick-off, of its captain and top scorer, Alexandra. Popp, victim of “muscular problems” in the warm-up.
Without Bühl and Popp, the German attack lost much of its sparkle but not its bite, trying to smother England with heavy but sometimes uncoordinated pressure.
After this defeat, the Germans did not hide their immense frustration. “We fought as a team, but unfortunately we were not rewarded. We will first have to let the next few hours pass, but we are still happy and proud to have been able to reach so many people and enthuse them. “, underlined striker Svenja Huth.
Despite the disappointment, coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg, speaking to German public television ARD, did not fail to congratulate her players for their determination: “There must be a loser in a match, we were very close , especially after the equalization at 1 everywhere (…) I told them that we could be proud, it was not enough but on a given whole until the end and I can not blame them. We grow with such games.”
The Germans could take their revenge next year at the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. While the playoffs are not yet over, the two teams, at the top of their respective groups, should easily get their ticket to the competition.