LONDON — Sarina Wiegman and her players know, deep down, that the most important victory has already been won. Its loot can be measured not just by the attendance records and viewership records generated by England’s run to Euro 2022, but also by the crowded pubs and ubiquitous jerseys and, on Sunday, packed trains. heading to Wembley Stadium for the final. against Germany.
It will also be clear in a few years, as England captain Leah Williamson has said, when this tournament will be seen as a ‘game changer’ for women’s football in England, certainly, and probably all of Europe too.
The problem with elite sports, however, is that it’s not that simple. The impact of Euro 2022 on the general public won’t change, of course, whether England can take that final step on Sunday and become European champions for the first time, but the way players will remember it. certainly. It’s one thing to inspire a nation to glory. It’s another to do it reluctantly. The victory that counts for England is not the philosophical victory, the conceptual victory. It is the one that is realized in 90 minutes, on a field.
It is also an achievable goal. England swept through this tournament with such aplomb and greatness that even Wiegman admitted the group stage was “relatively easy”. His team only struggled once, in a difficult quarter-final against Spain; this match also brought the only goal that Mary Earps conceded. The host must be the favorite.
The only caveat is that Germany does not make a convincing underdog. Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s side look like a side in transition, with an older generation gradually giving way to a younger one, led by the indomitable Lena Oberdorf, but Germany’s pedigree in this tournament is impeccable: she has been crowned champion of Europe eight times, after all, and she has never lost a final that she has reached. This iteration grew, surely and steadily, during the tournament. He also knows that it’s the victory that counts, the one on which everything rests.