Sarina Wiegman: 'I hope we make the fans proud again...I can't wait'
Sarina Wiegman ‘can’t wait’ for England’s UEFA Women’s EUROs semi-final with Sweden tomorrow night and said she hopes her side can make the country proud once again.
The Lionesses beat one of the tournament’s favourites Spain 2-1 after extra-time in the quarter-final last week to set up a last-four clash with the side ranked number two in the world, Sweden.
“Everyone is excited of course,” Wiegman said in her pre-match press conference on Monday night.
“We did some recovery after the last game, we got fresh again and then we started to prepare for the Sweden game. Everyone is so focused and so excited.
“The level of training has been really high again, which is really nice, and I can’t wait to play tomorrow.”
Sweden reached the semi-final at Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane courtesy of an injury-time goal against Belgium on Friday night.
With only the USA ahead of Sweden in the world rankings, Peter Gerhardsson’s side entered EURO 2022 as the highest-ranked side and are six places above England.
And Wiegman said: “I think it is going to be a really tight game. They have performed really well in the previous years and they have always performed well in the women’s game. They are number two in the FIFA ranking so it is going to be a difficult game and totally different to what we faced against Spain because they have a totally different style of play, but we are prepared.”
She continued: “They are very well organised, they are very experienced, they are strong, they are very good at set-plays and they have some players who are really goal-orientated, so we are aware of their strengths.
“Tomorrow is going to be a really tough game between two opponents who are really equal.”
Wiegman, who won the last edition of the EUROs in 2017 when in charge of the Netherlands, refused to be drawn on what it would mean to help England win a major women’s tournament for the first time.
Episode 23 | Lionesses Live connected by EE
Alessia Russo and Lotte Wubben-Moy join the Lionesses Live crew the day before England's semi-final with Sweden
When asked if she was aware of the magnitude of reaching a major final and what it would mean to the country, Wiegman replied: “Well I think reaching a semi-final has been really great too and we have seen that we have brought a lot of inspiration but our fans gave us a lot of inspiration too.
“We are only focused on tomorrow and we hope that we get the result that we want.”
It was then put to Wiegman: are this England team ready to go and make history?
Her response drew laughter from those in attendance, as she responded with a smile: “The England team are ready to play the best game tomorrow against Sweden and hopefully we will inspire the nation.”
With Hannah Hampton back in the squad, after missing the 2-1 win over Spain due to Covid, the Lionesses head coach confirmed everyone was fit and available for the Sweden clash, adding it remains very difficult to select her starting XI and they are ‘taking everything into consideration again’.
All of England’s matches so far have been in front of sold-out stadiums and the quarter-final on BBC One peaked at 7.6 million viewers, with a further 1.5 million fans watching via iPlayer and BBC Sport’s digital platforms.
When asked if she had a message for the fans, Wiegman replied: “I hope the fans are going to bring us lots of energy again. We will do that ourselves but it was really an extra dimension that we got in our last games and that is really exciting. I hope we make them proud again.”
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