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Lionesses with a loud roar

Zoe Abereoje discusses which Lionesses have been most influential in the run up to the Women's Euro finals.

With the Lionesses heading to the final, it is expected that on Sunday many more will turn on the TV and support the team as they make a bid to win the Women’s Euro. The team as a whole is impressive, they’ve shown lots of potential and given the spectators hope. Here are my top four picks for the best players so far:

Millie Bright

Millie Bright is one of the stars of a formidable Chelsea Women side and her form is just as impressive for the England side. While it may be easy to overlook her key role in the team when the defensive side of England isn’t under pressure, as was the case in the group stages, her assertive role in the quarter final against Spain explicitly highlighted her defensive capabilities and importance. While the semis didn’t force Bright to play in the way she did against Spain, her ability to thwart Sweden’s hopes to stay in the competition did not go unnoticed. 

Leah Williamson

The captain of the Lionesses. Perhaps you recognise the name from Jordan Henderson wearing her shirt to team practice a couple of weeks ago. Guiding her team to win all three group stage matches and being an important member of the defence during the Spain game, this Arsenal defender is worth remembering in her own right. With the control and leadership demonstrated by her in the semis, one would not know that she had only recently been named captain with not much tournament experience. But now with rumours flying that she is set to be honoured by the queen, it is an undeniable fact that she has become the face of the Lionesses. 

Beth Mead

Having scored in every appearance in the group stages, Beth Mead is not only a valuable asset to the Lionesses, but also a current strong contender to win the coveted Golden Boot. As a popular Arsenal player alongside Williamson, she thrives in presenting a defensive challenge for the opposing team and is likely to score again, so you may as well get to know her now. With another goal in the semis, Beth Mead is in a great place to win the Golden Boot, however as fate would have it German forward, Alexandra Popp is level with her on goals after scoring twice in her semis. It looks like the Sunday match is not only England v Germany but also Mead v Popp, and I reckon Mead fancies her chances. 

Sarina Weigman

Not a player, but perhaps the most lauded after the quarter finals for her game management. When England went a goal down, Wiegman instantaneously responded with a change in the game plan, forwards and formation, which facilitated an equaliser and an eventual second goal to send England through. For many, Weigman’s flexibility and adaptiveness to changing game conditions is impressive. It remains to be seen what she strategies for in the finals, but expect bold moves should England concede. The history between Wiegman and the Lionesses is also quite ironic. Having coached the Netherlands to win the 2017 Women’s Euros via knocking England out in the semis, it seems a fun twist of fate that she now guides the English team to a final. 

Now, while these women are key to the English side, so many others like Bronze, Russo and Stanway have influenced the tournament. As Weigman has expressed, a tournament isn’t won through just eleven players but instead through the whole squad. Despite the fact that the starting line-up has remained unchanged for any of the games, Wiegman has shown anything is open to change, and therefore the stage remains open for all players. 

Image Credit: Liondartois/CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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