Manager believes Lionesses must leave their Euro victory behind them in order to navigate Saturday’s challenging qualifying match in Austria.
After winning the European Championship, Sarina Wiegman thinks that England cannot afford to remain still given how swiftly other women’s national teams are progressing.
In their penultimate World Cup qualifying match, the Lionesses face Austria on Saturday night at the Wiener Neustadt Stadium, south of Vienna. A win would guarantee them a spot in the competition the following year.
In the temporary press area in a tent outside the 4,290-seat stadium, Wiegman said, “When you’re pleased with what you’re doing right now, you’ve lost. Because the game advances so much and every country is so anxious to better.”
She continued, “The athletes have already stated that this is just the beginning. “This is just the beginning, and it’s a very fantastic beginning, but yeah, I do feel like we were partying even on July 31. Nevertheless, the players are already thinking ahead.
We obviously want to qualify for the World Cup because that is what we should be doing at this point, and we also want to succeed.
It’s tough to win against Austria. The semi-finalists from Euro 2017 advanced to the quarterfinals in July, but Germany eliminated them in a nail-biting match.
Over the years, they have expanded significantly, Wiegman observed. “They were really good in defence in 2017, but I think they’ve improved a lot in possession as well. They did a fantastic job against us, but they were also excellent against Germany. They are a tough team that is very well organised, but they also have a tremendous desire to move forward. Therefore, in order to succeed, we really need to be at a really high level.
The Lionesses defeated Austria twice in the previous calendar year, once at the Stadium of Light in the rematch in November 2021 and once at Old Trafford in the Euros opener. Each occasion, England prevailed 1-0.
Irene Fuhrmann, the manager of Austria, claimed that every player was ready. “This is an important game for us because we play against a great squad that is deserving of winning the European championship.
“We want to make things as difficult as we can for England. We feel more confident now after some of our previous performances. We can only accomplish this as a team, and if we do, we will have proven that we are capable of catching up to those powerful countries, though England is undoubtedly the favourite.
Football demonstrates that anything is possible, but we need a miraculous night to win against England, and we’re realistic about it; we are aware of the situation and who is the favourite.
There are choices for Wiegman to make. England will qualify for the World Cup with victories over Austria and Luxembourg at home on Tuesday, but there are forced alterations to the starting lineup from each Euro match. Ellen White, the record scorer, has retired, and Fran Kirby was left off the team with an unidentified ailment.
“You consider what you did and what you need after every game. More assaults? More protection? It concerns striking a balance between those two things, according to Wiegman. That is what we currently do, keeping in mind that the squad has altered little and that means we have to change slightly as well. But first we prepare, strike the right balances, and then we decide.
Alessia Russo, who had six excellent appearances for England’s striker off the bench during the Euros, is in line to take White’s spot as the offensive leader. I feel like I haven’t quite established myself as a starting striker, so I still have a lot of work to do, stated Russo.
Beth England, who has struggled with a lack of playing time at Chelsea, Nikita Parris, who joined Manchester United in the hopes of accruing more playing time than she was able to at Arsenal, and Ebony Salmon, who was absent from the Euros but has eight goals in her first nine games for Houston Dash in the NWSL, are also contenders for the No. 9 spot.
Salmon stated that because of the void left by Ellen, which had been filled for a few years, “everyone can see that the post is up for grabs.”
“With Ebony, of course, she went at camp last September and received some input,” Wiegman continued. She has since switched clubs, is succeeding greatly, and we want to see her in our setting.
“Of course, the No. 9 position is quite competitive, as are all of the spots in the team. We still have one training session left, but I’m happy with how things are. I’ve decided [about who will start], but I won’t say who it is just yet.