Sarina Wiegman: 'We haven't won anything yet'
Sarina Wiegman has stressed England ‘haven’t won anything yet’ ahead of the Lionesses’ UEFA Women’s EUROs quarter-final with Spain, with it still unclear whether the England head coach will be able to attend the match in person.
England’s 14 goals during the group stage were more than any other side and – along with Germany – they were one of only two teams not to concede during their three matches.
But on Wednesday night, they face one of the best teams in world football in Spain, who even without all-time record scorer Jenni Hermoso and world player of the year Alexia Putellas due to injury, have an extremely talented squad.
So when it was put to Wiegman that England have replaced Spain as the number one favourites for the tournament, the Lionesses’ head coach responded: “I think there are a couple of teams who are [also] the favourites so I do not think that has changed a lot over the course of the group stage.
“We have seen the games have been at a high level and there are more teams who can win the EUROs.
“Of course, Spain are missing two key players, Hermoso and Putellas, but they still have a very good team and they are still very tight on the ball. But we have also seen in the last games that they have some vulnerabilities so it is absolutely going to be a top game tomorrow and I hope that we will be successful.”
Playing in front of sold-out stadiums in all of their matches and with the tournament enjoying attendance figures which are already the best a Women’s EUROs has ever seen, England head into the knockout stages with an increasing number of eyes on them.
Being the host of a tournament also brings along a level of pressure but Wiegman knows what is needed to be successful in a home EUROs after guiding the Netherlands to the 2017 title in her native country.
“You talk about pressure but we talk about football,” was one of Wiegman’s replies during her pre-match press conference.
“We know our plan, we know our strengths, we know our opponents very well but we also know there are more [tournament] favourites to beat [in the knockout stage] so what we are focussing on now is that we have a game against Spain.
“We did well in the group stage but we haven’t won anything yet and we are just focussed on the next game.
“Spain are a very good team and we are a very good team too and we want to play the best game we can and hopefully it will bring us the win.”
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Chloe Kelly and Georgia Stanway join Joelah Noble as the team set off for Brighton
On Friday it was revealed that Wiegman had tested positive for Covid, meaning the head coach missed the 5-0 win over Northern Ireland later that night.
Wiegman was still heavily involved in the game at St Mary’s Stadium though, as she was communicating with members of the technical staff on the touchline remotely.
Because of the vast size of the Lionesses’ training base at The Lensbury Resort in Teddington, Wiegman has been able to go for walks away from everyone else and watch training from ‘a big distance’ while wearing a mask.
She highlighted that the last two years have proven people can still be efficient while working remotely, with Wiegman continuing to have team meetings virtually.
With Hannah Hampton and Lotte Wubben-Moy joining Wiegman in contracting Covid in the last two weeks, they have implemented stricter measures and put more restrictions on the players’ and staff’s movements.
Wiegman said: “We are really aware, we are being really careful - whilst it is invisible - but we are trying to stay in our bubble and do the right things and hopefully we can keep everyone fit.
“When there is a positive result, we have to be agile, creative and continue with the ones who are fit.”
It is still unclear whether Wiegman will be able to be in the dugout for the match with Spain on Wednesday night (kick-off 8pm BST).
“I am good, thank you, I am feeling well and ready to go, but we still have to wait,” Wiegman said at the beginning of her press conference on Tuesday afternoon.
“Of course, I am very hopeful of [being at the Spain game in person] but we will see what happens.
“We do know that if I can’t be there then I will be around in another way.
“For the last game, we had a [communication] line so I was in contact with the technical staff all of the time during the game, watching the game from here. So we stayed connected all of the time and if necessary that is what we will do again tomorrow.”
Wiegman also revealed it was unlikely England would be making many changes to their starting line-up against Spain, with Hampton the only player currently ruled out of the match.
She said: “It is not tomorrow yet but as I said before the last game, I don’t expect too many changes, only when we really think it is necessary and I think the whole team have done really well.”
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