England vs Germany

UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 Final

SUNDAY 31st May 2022 – 5pm KO

Wembley Stadium, London

Very few match ups in world football are as historic as the England versus Germany tie. Essentially a match-up of classical proportion’s this fixture takes on special significance for the English because of the events of 1939-1945. There is also the small matter of what happened at Wembley in 1966.

Most of those in attendance at Wembley were not interested in mindless chants about the Germans and you would have to work hard to even find a mention of 1966. The biggest shock to all came just minutes before the 5pm kick off.

Possibly the best player at Euro 2022 – the German skipper Alexandra Popp – was lost to the final through injury. In the warmup she declared herself unfit and the teamline changed drastically.

Tied at the the top of the tournament golden boot goalscorer charts with Beth Mead, the experienced Wolfsburg player had enlightened the tournament with a number of match winning performances.

Pivotal had been the goals in the knockout round wins over Austria and France.

Going into the London showcase Mead and Popp were both level on six goals but the England forward was ahead on assists; the tie-breaker in the event of a tie. This meant that while the hope was this final would act as the ultimate tie breaker of tie-breakers the dropping out of Popp sadly meant the end of the road as far as a top goalscorer race went.

This would become the final of the supersub. A title that will possibly remain remembered forever as the nickname of David Fairclough – the nondescript red head striker from the all conquering Liverpool side of the 1970’s – this was the supersub final of England’s Chloe Kelly and Ella Toone.

The winning goal – after Lina Magull had equalised for the German side – came in the 110th minute to give the Lionesses a first major tournament triumph. The Kelly goal was too much for the even the classical tournament team of the Germans to overcome. While there was no Georgian Soviet assistant it is unlikely the finish of Kelly will live as long in the mind as Geoff Hurst’s shot past Hans Tilkowski. The poke past the tall German keeper Merle Frohms sent 87000 England fans watching wild but hardly awakened a nation.

Back in the global hub of London after the game you would have struggled to know that a football match had been played at Wembley let alone a major final.

Soon the 120 minutes were up. The trophy at the end of a record breaking tournament was England’s.

The talk afterwards, naturally, was emotional.

The legacy of the event, rather than the footballing win itself, became the main talking point. In fact the media hijacked the win not 10 minutes after the final whistle with talk of ‘inspiring a generation’. Wild sweeping societal change was mentioned as was a Damehood for the England manager. Unsuprisingly even David Beckham cashed in on it all – just like his ‘mate’ Prince William.

Groans aside, for the players it had been a wonderful journey; and one that ended in all that matters – victory. Consistency had been the key for both England and Germany in their respective runs to the final. Only a minor wobble versus Spain in the Quarter-Final had looked like preventing England from reaching Wembley.

England’s figurehead had been the Dutchwoman Sarina Wiegman; and while the consistency of her selection had been critical to the achievement the last minute appearance of Nikita Parris in the final was surely an even bigger statement by Wiegman than the FA could ever make.

She could not have been any more transparent if she tried.

This was a tournament bogged down in empty nonsense talk of diversity, equality and empowerment. At times the media forgot this was a football tournament and not a social or cultural statement.

The BBC especially spent more time talking about how badly women’s football is recognised and poorly financially backed (compared to men) rather than talking about the football they were broadcasting. Halftime analysis features meanwhile branched out into irrelevant chat on diversity and inclusion rather than the actual game.

One BBC host even chose to use the platform of live television to ask why the England team only featured 11 players with a certain skin colour. Thankfully, she was not seen again for the rest of the tournament.

The FA and UEFA meanwhile bombarded everyone with identity politics at every opportunity they could; everything from rainbow flags, to Ukraine flags to the insidious ‘take a knee’ statement.

Unsurprisngly a Ukrainian referee got the final – about as big a political statement as you can get from UEFA. In refereeing at this elite level, as in politics, no choice is ever simply about ability.

For the purists amongst us this was only ever a tournament about football – nothing else and nothing more. A chance to feast on some tournament football in a year where the FIFA World Cup has been pushed out to Qatar in November.

Credit to Wiegman – the ultimate tournament professional – Euro 2022 would be won by her pragmatic team selections; not by giving ground to tokenism for the political correct; the globalist agenda or the FA’s tiresome gender and race identity politics.

Perhaps the mens England team manager could learn something from her?

Germany were rocked when its top scorer pulled out.

Alexandra Popp with her experience, physique and leadership had cut a unique figure in the tournament. Powerful headers, kockdowns and crucial goals meant she was the defining figure in so many of her team’s games. A new breed of German talent has emerged in Brand, Sydney Lohmann and Oberdorf; and this generation led by Lina Magull may well be the future.

Popp’s presence in the team may now be uncertain, like others of her era, especially if the Germans fail to reach the 2023 World Cup in Australia and NZ.

The German manager Martina Voss-Tecklenburg brought an excellent brand of management to a team who have had some issues manager wise over the last 5 years. DFB loyalist Horst Hrubesch bailed the Deutsche Fußballnationalmannschaft der Frauen out after previous failures and reinvigorated its focus on winning in the best traditions of German national teams.

Ultimately her success at embedding new talent into the German team bodes well for a nation who are always strong come tournaments.

Sadly, they fell just short this time.

FT: 2-1 AET

Att: 87, 700

England: Earps; Bronze, Bright, Williamson, Daly; Stanway, Walsh, Mead, Kirby, Hemp, White (4-3-3).

Germany: Frohms; Gwinn, Hendrich, Hegering, Rauch, Oberdorf, Dabritz, Magull, Brand, Huth, Schüller (4-3-2-1)

Referee: Monzul (Ukraine)