Women's Euros: England dreaming as Anita Asante hails 'Bergkamp-esque' Dutch star

By Sports Desk July 04, 2022

Anita Asante featured at three Women's European Championships, and big-stage experience makes the former England defender a shrewd judge of the teams that will go for glory this month.

The Euro 2022 finals kick off when England face Austria at a sold-out Old Trafford on Wednesday, with the tournament climaxing in the July 31 final at Wembley.

Spain start as many people's favourites, but defending champions the Netherlands, hosts England, France, Germany and Sweden are also firmly in the frame.

Stats Perform sat down with 71-cap star Asante ahead of the tournament getting under way.

The 37-year-old spoke of how a Dutch striker reminds her of the great Dennis Bergkamp, her hopes for England and belief in the Lionesses' Dutch boss Sarina Wiegman, and why Spain are such an exciting proposition.
 

Asante Asanta's verdict on...

... why England are serious trophy contenders this time

"I think England have a really great chance. We have a fantastic squad. They've got to three semi-finals consecutively [2015 and 2019 World Cup, Euro 2017]. So this is an England team that is competing at the highest level. Of course, they're going to have to challenge the Dutch, the French, the Spanish, who are also an ascending force, Germany with a kind of historic legacy of winning major tournaments. But I think they've got all the components to do that. And they've shown that in previous tournaments, it's just those fine margins.

"We saw with the men's Euros, just how the whole nation kind of stops, gets to a standstill. And it's all about the team and whatever everyone can do to support the team and put good vibes into the universe for them. Hopefully, we can emulate that and get a great mass of support behind the women's England team."

...Sarina Wiegman, champion coach with the Netherlands at Euro 2017 who now bosses England's Lionesses

"She seems a very assured manager. She really knows what she's about and what she wants to impart on the squad. In tournaments, you just never know what can happen with your squad: illnesses, injuries, lots of different challenges from outside. So you need everyone to pull together and have a good relationship as well in terms of communication.

"She wants the team to be confident in possession and that they really enjoy having the ball and utilising their threats. And that's the thing I've enjoyed about watching the England team."

... the mighty Spain team that could take Euro 2022 by storm

"You can see that they are a very fluid kind of team where they are very composed in possession. They don't really adjust the way they play to other teams, they're more the sort of team that go and take their games to the opposition. I think that's what we've seen domestically. And it's kind of what we're probably expecting with the Spanish national team as well, because a lot of those players obviously play in the national team as well. So they have a good understanding of each other from club level.

"I think, arguably, the biggest criticism may be that they maybe have lacked the kind of clinical finishes that we've seen with other European sides in like an Ada Hegerberg, for example, for Norway, but they are definitely an exciting outfit with incredible players. And obviously Ballon d'Or winners to look out for, so they'll definitely be hot contenders."

... the brilliance of Netherlands and Arsenal forward Vivianne Miedema

"What can you say about Miedema? She's a prolific number nine, but we also know, she can play as a false nine and kind of as a 10. She has that versatility to her game as well as her vision. She can pick out passes that the other players and maybe even pundits don't see. So that's an incredible skill to have.

"In and around the box, she's lethal. Left foot, right foot, she can finish. But with her, it's the finesse. She kind of reminds me of that Bergkamp-esque finesse where she just chops players and you think she's going to shoot, and then she puts you on the floor and checks back in and takes a strike or slips someone in."

... the thrill of playing tournament football

"As a young girl, my ambition was always to play for England. Walking out the tunnel, getting in your shirt, playing in international competitions that are viewed globally, is such an incredible thing as a female athlete.

"It's all the young girls and all the younger players now who get to do that. They're really living a dream, essentially. And it's a fantastic thing that the younger generation have role models to look up to, to help them see that that dream can be a reality."

... who she considers the favourites

"I have to say England. I actually really believe that we have enough quality in the squad to reach a final and hopefully build that belief as we go along in the competition to really get over the line. Hopefully that home support will give them extra energy throughout the tournament."

Related items

  • Jordan Henderson was ‘one of our best signings’, says Saudi league vice-chairman Jordan Henderson was ‘one of our best signings’, says Saudi league vice-chairman

    Jordan Henderson’s short-lived move to Saudi Arabia benefited the country’s league “a great deal”, its vice-chairman has said.

    The 33-year-old England midfielder completed a move to Dutch side Ajax last month after leaving Al Ettifaq less than six months into a lucrative three-year contract.

    Henderson hinted at regrets over his move to the Middle East in his introductory press conference in Amsterdam.

    He had previously championed LGBTQ+ rights and was widely condemned over the move to Saudi Arabia, where same-sex relationships are criminalised.

    However, Saudi Pro League boss Saad Al Lazeez told the Financial Times Business of Football Summit on Wednesday: “Jordan Henderson, even though he left, was one of the best signings in the Saudi Pro League.

    “We signed 93 players in the summer window, and I would say 28 to 30 of them would be in anybody’s list of the top 300 players, and you don’t expect all of them to stay.

    “Sometimes things do not work out, sometimes the player does not adapt, you expect those things to happen.

    “But I still maintain Jordan Henderson was one of our best signings, we benefited a great deal from his signing, we’re learning a lot of lessons and we will continue to grow from there.

    “We have been with Jordan throughout his journey from the day we signed him in the UK. We still maintain a good relationship with him. He’s a great guy, a great person. It just did not work out. So that’s life.”

    Henderson said on January 19: “In life, if you want to call them regrets or mistakes, you can call them that.

    “But, at the same time, they’re only mistakes if you don’t learn from them.

    “Looking back, at the time, obviously it was a big decision. It was a decision I felt was right for me and my family at the time, but things happen. Things change quickly in football.

    “I had to make another decision and this (joining Ajax) is the one I felt was right decision for me.”

  • You learn to dance in the rain – Steve Evans hails hard-fought win You learn to dance in the rain – Steve Evans hails hard-fought win

    Steve Evans was pleased to see his Stevenage side ‘dance in the rain’ as Boro returned to the top six with a 1-0 win over managerless Cambridge in League One.

    Jordan Roberts turned and swivelled on the edge of the box to score and press home Stevenage’s dominance after Us keeper Jack Stevens was called into action on multiple occasions, with his side now just five points above the relegation zone.

    As for Stevenage, they leapfrogged Oxford to move back into the play-off spots and Evans hopes his side have what it takes to weather the challenges ahead in the run-in.

    He said: “When you are in the promotional season, I have been in it many times. There are loads of storms that come.

    “Storms can be opposition, they can be officials or players getting injured. Storms could be bad misses; storms can be bad mistakes at the back or a bad error.

    “But you learn to dance in the rain, and that means you learn to work hard and be disciplined and I thought my players danced in the rain tonight.”

    Stevenage were threatened by Cambridge sporadically in the second half, and the home side failed to add a nerve-settling second goal for the second game in a row after failing to put 10-man Wycombe to the sword on Saturday.

    Evans said: “I think tonight there is no reason why we don’t score more, and we had a couple of one-on-ones and we have to take them.

    “We moved it around and we had big opportunities to get the second goal and then enjoy our evening, but I think this season we have never done it the easy way compared to last year.”

    Cambridge, meanwhile, have won only once in their last six games and find themselves without a manager ahead of a crunch trip to third-place Bolton on Saturday, with Barry Corr expected to take charge in the north-west.

    The interim head coach said: “Stevenage are very direct and get numbers around the ball, and we needed to do something about that.

    “You have to combat Stevenage and they are good at what they do. They spend ages over everything and Stevenage is a difficult place to come this year and they are having a brilliant season.

    “The fixtures have been difficult in the last three games, we played three teams in the top six. I don’t want to make excuses but these games won’t define our season and playing Bolton away won’t define our season.

    “But we will go there and we will look to be as competitive as we can, and we don’t want to feel sorry for ourselves.”

  • Salford boss Karl Robinson demands winning mentality after draw with Colchester Salford boss Karl Robinson demands winning mentality after draw with Colchester

    Karl Robinson has told his Salford players to have a winning mentality if they want to remain at the club after they were held to a frustrating 1-1 draw with Colchester.

    The Ammies looked on course for a fifth victory in nine games thanks to Matt Smith’s first-half opener – his 22nd goal of the season.

    However, a battling Colchester side snatched a point thanks to young substitute Bradley Ihionven’s late strike.

    Salford, whose eight-match unbeaten start under new boss Robinson came to an end at the weekend, could not source a late winner, despite their best efforts.

    “We’re here to win and these players are paid to win,” Robinson said when asked about his side’s aim for the season.

    “They’re professional athletes and that’s my mentality. If they don’t believe in that, then they can go.

    “Tonight, it’s probably a fair result, but we were nowhere near our best. It was an under-par performance with stupid actions.

    “When you look at how fragmented we were with the amount of players we’ve had out, I can’t be too disappointed.

    “But I’m not in the industry to draw games so there’s so many elements of our game that could’ve been better.

    “The players in the dressing room are down because they know they’ve underperformed and missed another opportunity to get three points.

    “It was a real fight to put a team on that pitch; they competed, but we’ve not seen the quality or fluidity that we’ve seen from a Salford City team.”

    Meanwhile, Colchester continued their mini-revival under new boss Danny Cowley.

    The U’s, who sit five points above the Sky Bet League Two relegation zone, have now lost only one of eight games since their change in the dugout.

    “There’s no point me worrying about other teams because I can’t control their destinies, but I can only control ours,” said Cowley.

    “I’ll put all my energy and my efforts into helping the team; they needed lifting at half-time and we have to fight in those moments.

    “We didn’t deserve to go in 1-0 down, but we did, and you have to then respond. And certainly in the latter part of the game, we did that.

    “Credit to the players, but we just couldn’t win it. After two tough away games and on two difficult pitches, we take the points and move on.

    “We’re trying to win every game because that’s our mentality. We’ve now only had one loss in eight, so we are becoming a really competitive team.

    “But we’re working really hard to try and turn these draws into wins.

    “It’s just about us; we’re trying to get to 50 points as that will be enough for us to retain our status.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.