England have finally done it. For the first time since 1966, England have won a major international tournament. Sarina Wiegman’s team have been the undeniable best team at this summer’s Euros, conceding just 2 goals, and scoring 22 in the process. After a hard-fought battle with Germany in the final, England came out as deserved winners of the tournament, but not without the help of their mighty substitutes. Here is our analysis of the match, and the brilliance of England all summer long.
Consistency is key in developing chemistry in tournaments such as this, and Sarina Wiegman found consistency in starting the same eleven players all six matches. The Dutch-born manager even used the same five substitutes in the vast majority of matches, prioritizing those that best fit the puzzle she concocted from start to finish. That included Rachel Daly at left-back once more in the tournament, who is a phenomenal workhorse and dangerous attacker, but evidently not a left-back. The decision nearly hurt the Lionesses once again, with the women in white only gaining full confidence upon the arrivals of Toone, Russo, and later Greenwood and Kelly.Embed from Getty Images
Beth Mead earned herself the Player of the Tournament for her goal-scoring exploits this summer, but it was Chloe Kelly who made the biggest splash on the day upon her arrival into the game, particularly in disrupting Germany’s rhythm and winding down the clock.Embed from Getty Images
Mary Earps also continued in goal and made it through another immaculate performance, making 5 saves and 14 recoveries to keep the Germans at bay. But the key performance of the day came from the immensely impressive Keira Walsh, who oozed class every single time she touched the ball.
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England built out from the back in a 2-4-4-esque shape, with Georgia Stanway firmly lower (and dropping in) alongside Keira Walsh to receive the ball in dangerous areas. Walsh acted as the lock-picker and game-breaker once more, exuding class as she sprayed passes about the pitch. As part of their circulation, Leah Williamson would often pause on the ball for a second or two, inviting pressure to come toward her, before playing in Walsh at the exact moment the City midfielder sought space for herself.
The Manchester City midfielder’s first look was always forward after receiving, and she showcased her excellence in finding gaps through the defense over and over. From the first attack of the game that involved her threading the needle to Beth Mead, all the way up to the opening goal, Walsh’s expert pocket-picking display continuously allowed Wiegman’s team to create chances that they otherwise would have lacked without her decisiveness.
Perhaps most intriguingly, England killed off the game in stunning fashion, through incessant gamesmanship and delays. They had the ball in the corner for the vast majority of the final five minutes, with Kelly constantly working to disrupt and delay any situation.
Despite likely not speaking a word of German, the English team made it their personal endeavour to intercept and read a note passed on to Sara Doorsoun; and later had fun discussing who would take the corner between Hemp and Kelly, without the ball landing on the line until ten seconds later. Whether right or wrong, the gamesmanship worked in frustrating Germany into oblivion, and eventually killing the game for the all-important England victory.
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Out of possession, England defended in a fluid 4-2-3-1 shape, that could be adapted to 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1. Their common 4-1-4-1 defensive shape remained relatively unheard of in the final, with Stanway and Walsh both looking to screen forward passes into Germany’s dangerous attackers.
England had many moments of defensive transition throughout the match, which the Germans could have capitalized on had they been able to take full advantage of England’s narrow shape. As the one ticking all the boxes and shifting left to right with the ball, Walsh again often remained the first line of defense in transition. She was immaculate in winning back possession for her team, even making 15 recoveries.Embed from Getty Images
But if Walsh found herself bypassed by the speed of the attack, England’s narrowness opened holes in the wide areas for Voss-Tecklenburg’s side to exploit. Unfortunately, Deutschland lacked the proper finesse on the final pass more often than not, or made the wrong decision in shooting when better options were available.
In the few times that the Germans broke free of the English defense and smashed the ball at goal, the likes of Bronze, Williamson and Earps always put their bodies on the line to stop the ball from hitting the back of the net. The commitment from the English defense was impeccable all night long, and a massive factor in their 2-1 victory.
Germany set up in a supposed 4-3-3 formation, with Lina Magull adamantly pushing the envelope in all phases of the game, playing in behind the centre-forward in more of a 4-4-1-1-esque shape.
As part of their ever-changing structure, the one ever-present happened to be the Young Player of the Tournament – Lena Oberdorf, always operating as a quintessential ‘6’. She excellently broke up the play, completely mitigated the role of Fran Kirby in the first half, and allowed the likes of Dabritz and Magull to advance higher up the pitch due to her ‘Anchoring‘ role.Embed from Getty Images
Oberdorf’s Wolfsburg teammate Kathrin-Julia Hendrich also won absolutely everything at the back, somehow keeping pace with Chloe Kelly on the break, and constantly sweeping up all the German messes that evaded Oberdorf as the destroyer.Embed from Getty Images
Lina Magull played the key role in the match, brilliantly operating between the lines to drive her team on both in attacking transitions, and over-arching attacking phases. After the last-minute omission of Alexandra Popp, Martina Voss-Tecklenburg made the interesting decision to leave out Wolfsburg’s Tabea Waßmuth, who played immaculately upon entering the frame. It was the substitutions of players like Waßmuth and Lohmann that sparked new life into the attack in the second half, especially in finally creating sound chances of note to beat Mary Earps in goal.
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Germany attacked with pace and fluidity, prioritizing quick attacking transitions and width that arrived in the form of Giulia Gwinn in an advanced role down the left, and the pace and power of Tabea Waßmuth as she shifted wide to create chances. Up until the second-half substitutions, Germany’s main route at goal was in finding Lea Schüller between the narrow gaps formed between Millie Bright and Leah Williamson, particularly on through-balls into her path.
They also looked to utilize crossing opportunities from Gwinn’s high position (0/7 crosses completed), and smart set-piece deliveries that nearly found Marina Hegering at the back-post not once but twice.
Unfortunately for the Germans, they just could not find full fluidity in the attacking third, particularly in picking out the right passes when it counted most. In transition, they played crucial passes behind advancing runners.
In the final third, they failed to take advantage of the numbers they threw into the box, striking at goal when others were in better pockets of space to receive. Few of those moments came from Lina Magull, who took 6 shots and created 3 chances over the course of the game. The goal she scored exuded class from back to front, where Sydney Lohmann excellently delayed playing Waßmuth through on goal, before the Wolfsburg women combined for a deadly finish.
Unfortunately, Voss-Tecklenburg’s team couldn’t create more of these outstanding chances to finish, and the likes of Williamson, Walsh and Earps put up incredible performances to stop them from finding the back of the net.
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Out of possession, Germany defended for their lives, throwing themselves into tackles to stop the likes of Russo, White and Hemp from gaining control. Their out of possession tactics were perplexing at times, seemingly ever-changing. Their pressing intensity was evidently marked by a ball-oriented approach, and that perhaps explains why it was particularly difficult to identify shapes that held form for more than one specific situation.Embed from Getty Images
Typically however, Germany defended in what appeared to float between a 4-3-3 to 4-1-3-2, with Lena Oberdorf always at the base. Hendrich defended extraordinarily well in moments that required an immediacy in transition, winning 3 of her 4 tackles and 12 of her 13 duels across the phases.
Even within their intensity and decisiveness, they couldn’t get a grip of Keira Walsh, particularly in the way the English midfielder excellently scanned the field to evade pressure at the exact right moment. Walsh’s class and composure created several gaps in the German defense in the blink of an eye, continuously taking defenders out of the equation left, right and centre. They were completely done and dusted by Walsh’s exuberant delivery for the first goal, and scrapped their way toward misery on the second from Lauren Hemp’s set-piece delivery. Perhaps with a clearer defensive identity marked by more continuous shapes and structures, Germany could have been better equipped to handle Walsh’s wondrous play, and the speed in behind of players like Hemp and Russo.
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In the end however it was always going to be England’s day, with the Lionesses ending the tournament on a complete and utter high. England have now won their first major trophy since 1966 on the men’s side, with the women’s team achieving their first taste of European glory. A big congratulations goes out to England, on a hard-fought crown.
So there it is! A tactical analysis of England’s historic victory over Germany. Be sure to check out more of our match analyses, more on Women’s Football, and don’t forget to follow on social media @desmondrhys and @mastermindsite to never miss an update. Thanks for reading and see you soon!
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