Sarina Wiegman is determined for England to make their dreams come true after they reached the final of the Women's Euros with a 4-0 win over Sweden on Tuesday. 

The Lionesses put a run of three straight semi-final defeats at major tournaments behind them to reach a showpiece match for the first time since 2009. 

England are now unbeaten in 19 matches since Wiegman took charge and head into Sunday's final against Germany or France on an 11-game winning streak. 

Stina Blackstenius hit the bar early on for Sweden but Beth Mead put England in front in the 34th minute and Lucy Bronze doubled their lead shortly after the restart. 

Alessia Russo's brilliant backheel put the Lionesses out of reach and Fran Kirby capped a magnificent team display by chipping Hedvig Lindahl in the 76th minute. 

"The second half we did really well. I thought in the first half we struggled a little bit. The second half we had total control of the game and got some more space," Wiegman, who became the first coach to lead two different nations to a Women's Euros final, told the BBC. 

"We'll celebrate now a little bit. But as I said before the tournament, we have a dream. We've come very far, but now we want to take it away. 

"In the second half we played so much better. I think it was such a good performance that everyone will talk about it. 

"I think we have shown a couple of times that we're very resilient. I thought we didn't start well so we had a hard time. But the players found a way in the game to get out of their pressure, and I'm so, so incredibly proud of them." 

Mead's goal was her sixth of the competition – the most an England player has managed in a single edition of the Euros – and moved her one shy of the record tally set by Inka Grings in the 2009 tournament. 

The Arsenal forward also set up Bronze and Kirby, taking her total goal involvements at Euro 2022 to 10. 

"At the full-time whistle we didn't really know what to do! We’re ecstatic to be in the final," said Mead. 

"I enjoyed my goal – I think it came at a good time, as they’d had chances and there was pressure on us. I'm happy to help the team again." 

Alessia Russo's stunning backheel goal helped England to a brilliant 4-0 win over Sweden at Euro 2022, ending their wait for a semi-final success. 

The Lionesses weathered a strong start from Sweden that saw Stina Blackstenius rattle the crossbar and they took the lead when Beth Mead drilled home in the 34th minute. 

Lucy Bronze doubled England's lead three minutes after the restart and a moment of magic from substitute Russo put England out of reach in the 68th minute.

Fran Kirby audaciously chipped Hedvig Lindahl with 14 minutes remaining, as England ended a run of three straight semi-final defeats at major tournaments and booked their place in Sunday's showpiece at Wembley.

England needed Mary Earps to keep Sofia Jakobsson at bay after just 20 seconds, with Sweden's bright start seeing Blackstenius hit the bar with a header from a corner in the ninth minute. 

The game soon settled down but England controlled possession and they were rewarded when Mead controlled Bronze's cross expertly and fired a fine finish beyond Lindahl. 

Bronze placed a header from Mead's delivery into the bottom-left corner as the Lionesses made a phenomenal start to the second half, with the bar stopping Lauren Hemp from making it three before the hour mark. 

Earps did brilliantly to keep Blackstenius at bay as Sweden looked for a way back into the game but Russo backheeled a shot through Lindahl's legs to sap Sweden's resolve.

Kirby completed the scoring when she spotted former Chelsea team-mate Lindahl off her line to round off a resounding win for the Lionesses at Bramall Lane.

David Beckham has wished Sarina Wiegman's "inspiring" England team good luck ahead of their Women's European Championship semi-final clash with Sweden on Tuesday, as the Lionesses look to end a run of major semi-final defeats.

Wiegman's side have produced several scintillating performances as tournament hosts, scoring a remarkable 14 goals as they cruised through a group containing Austria, Norway and Northern Ireland, before coming from behind to clinch a 2-1 quarter-final win over Spain.

Georgia Stanway's extra-time stunner against La Roja was the 100th goal England have scored in just 18 matches under Wiegman, while their current 10-game winning run is their best ever such streak.

However, England are likely to face a tough test when they meet Sweden in their Bramall Lane semi-final, having fallen at this stage in three consecutive major tournaments (the 2017 Euros and World Cups in 2015 and 2019).

Ahead of that vital contest, the Lionesses have been wished well by England legend Beckham, who thanked the team for inspiring his own daughter through their performances.

"I just wanted to send you a message, firstly, to say congratulations on an incredible tournament so far," Beckham said in a video posted to the team's Twitter account.

"It's been so uplifting, it's been so exciting, and it's been so inspiring. For me personally, I have a daughter, and for her to be inspired by you girls and your performances has been incredible.

"But it's not just the girls being inspired, the boys are getting inspired as well by this, we all know that when big tournaments come around, our country and our fans get behind us like no other.

"It's been incredible to see the performances but for me personally, the game against Spain was what really brought the nation together.

"To win a game like that, in that manner, has really uplifted the whole country.

"Good luck for the semi-final, we're all behind you, we're all excited to see it and I know there's one person that is really excited to see it; my daughter Harper. Thank you for inspiring her and good luck girls."

Should England extend their fine run with victory in Sheffield, a Wembley final against either Germany or France – and a shot at a first major tournament success in the women's game – will await on Sunday.

England must focus on the present if they are to end their semi-final hoodoo when they take on Sweden in the last four of the Women's Euros, says Sarina Wiegman. 

The Lionesses will contest their fourth straight semi-final at a major tournament at Bramall Lane on Tuesday, having reached the stage in successive World Cups either side of the 2017 European Championship. 

England have featured in five previous Euros semi-finals and only progressed from two of them, in 1984 and 2009. 

Wiegman, who is yet to taste defeat in 18 matches in charge of England, wants the team to forget their previous defeats as they look to close in on a first major trophy. 

"I think it is necessary to be in the now and I do think you always have to learn from your experiences and take out the things you can take out to be better, become better or to learn," said Wiegman in a pre-match news conference.

"But it's no use now to talk about that all the time because it's now. It is now. So why should we talk about that all the time? 

"We first have to play a semi-final and that's the only thing that counts. Again, we're in the now. All the focus is on our game against Sweden – that's the only thing we talk about. 

"How do we want to play? How do we collaborate as a team? How do we try to exploit their weaknesses, take out their strengths and use our own strengths? That's the only thing we're talking about. 

"I think reaching the semi-final has been really great already and we saw that we brought a lot of inspiration. 

"But I think our fans gave us a lot of inspiration too. We are only focused on tomorrow and that's what it is, and we hope we get the result we want. 

"The England team is ready to play the best game against Sweden, and hopefully we can inspire the nation." 

Millie Bright scored an own goal in the Euro 2017 semi-final loss to the Netherlands and was sent off as England fell to the United States in the last four of the 2019 World Cup. 

She said: "We are on a new journey. It's a new path for us as a group. Like I said, [we've got] different players in, so for us it's kind of a fresh slate almost and again we focus on the here and the now. 

"The position we are in as a squad going into this game is that we are in a very good position and we are ready to fight. Everyone is feeling great." 

Sweden's Kosovare Asllani has criticised the use of VAR at the Women's Euros and referred to the tournament's approach as "strange" ahead of her side's semi-final against England at Bramall Lane on Tuesday evening.

The criticism comes after Rebecka Blomqvist had a goal disallowed against Switzerland in her team's 2-1 group stage victory.

The Swedish football assocation contacted UEFA afterwards over the incident, and Asllani has personally been critical of the amount of VAR cameras that are being used in the competition.

The 32-year-old told reporters: "Well using 50 per cent fewer cameras in our tournament than in the men's game, that’s a catastrophe really because the decisions can’t be made with the same precision.

"It's not just for us, there are other teams. There are situations where you should have more cameras and it can be really decisive.

"I think it's strange because I like VAR, I think it’s fair when they have it, but if we have one game where they make a mistake, because they draw the line on the wrong side, and we heard they don’t have the same number of cameras, for me it’s not acceptable."

Manager Peter Gerhardsson also spoke on the matter, commenting: "There shouldn’t be a difference whether it’s women's or men's football.

"It’s not good enough that there are goals that are disallowed that way when VAR is incorrect.

"My feeling is, sometimes we put too much trust in VAR. We’re going to have to hope that they’ve looked at improving themselves for the semi-final tomorrow."

Despite missing training in recent days, it's understood that Milan forward Asllani will be available for the huge clash with hosts England, as both teams bid to reach the final at Wembley on Sunday evening.

England are looking to avoid losing a fourth consecutive major tournament semi-final when they take on familiar foes Sweden at Bramall Lane on Tuesday.

The Lionesses cruised through the group stage, scoring a record 14 goals in the process, before surviving a scare to overcome Spain 2-1 after extra time in the quarter-finals.

Reaching this stage is nothing new for England, having also made it to the final four of the 2015 and 2019 World Cups, either side of their run to the semis at Euro 2017.

However, they suffered defeat on all three of those occasions, going down to Japan, the United States and the Netherlands respectively.

Fran Kirby played in each of those losses and is extra motivated to go at least one step further this time around on home soil.

"I don't want to be another player that loses in another semi-final and doesn't get to a final of a major tournament with England," she said.

"We spoke about the semi-finals we have lost previously and it takes a long time to recover from losing a semi-final like that. 

"I don't want to experience having to take a month to get over not getting to a final. It would mean everything to reach a final with this England team."

Ahead of the showdown in Sheffield, Stats Perform picks out some of the key Opta facts.

SEMI-FINAL PEDIGREE

Not only are England competing in a third straight major semi-final, this will also be their sixth appearance at this stage of the Euros (also 1984, 1987, 1995, 2009 and 2017).

They have progressed from just two of the previous five, though, and were heavily beaten 3-0 by the Dutch five years ago.

Sweden are into their ninth semi-final in this competition. After advancing from three of the first four, they have since lost three of the past four, most recently in 2013.

WE MEET AGAIN

England and Sweden are meeting in the Women's Euros for a seventh time, making it the third most played fixture behind Germany against Norway and Germany versus Italy.

The Lionesses have won only one of those past six encounters, with that solitary victory coming in the second leg of the 1984 final, which they went on to lose on penalties.

History is not only on Sweden's side when these sides meet in this competition, but also in overall meetings with England down the years.

Indeed, only against Germany (21) have England lost more times against an opponent than they have Sweden (15), with those defeats coming across 29 matches.

FORM SIDES COLLIDE

That past is the past, though, and England find themselves in superb form. With their comeback win against Spain, they have won 10 matches in a row – their best-ever streak.

Georgia Stanway's extra-time winner in that game was the 100th goal scored under head coach Sarina Wiegman in 18 matches, meaning they have averaged 5.6 goals per game.

That makes for a tantalising contest in Sheffield as Sweden are the highest-placed contender on the FIFA rankings list, sitting second behind the United States.

Bidding for a first trophy since the 1984 Euros, Sweden are undefeated since March 2020 and a staggering 34 matches in total.

Something has to give in this latest clash between the heavyweights, however, with a showdown against either Germany or France awaiting in Sunday's final.

Sweden goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl believes the investment and improvement in the English game in recent years means her nation's good record against their Women's European Championship semi-final opponents will mean very little.

The Swedes needed a late Linda Sembrant goal against Belgium in their quarter-final to advance to play tournament hosts England, who edged past Spain 2-1 in the last eight thanks to an extra-time thunderbolt from Georgia Stanway.

The two teams will face off on Tuesday at Bramall Lane, Sheffield for a place in the final.

England have won just three of their 26 meetings with Sweden in all competitions (D8 L15), while they have only lost more often against Germany (21) than they have against the Swedes.

However, when asked if this impressive record gives them an advantage during the team's media day on Sunday, former Chelsea stopper Lindahl said: "No, because we all know the development that's been in the English league, and the investment that's gone into English football in the last seven years.

"I know it first hand because I came to Chelsea in 2015 and I've seen the game take off in England. Obviously that will have an effect on the national team, because the league has grown and people have to grow with it. So you can't really rely on history.

"But what I do take with me is that we know these are players we've beaten. We've managed to beat them before and we can do it again."

The 39-year-old has made eight saves across her team's four games so far, conceding just two goals, and is looking forward to returning to Sheffield, where Sweden played their first two games against the Netherlands and Switzerland.

"I had imagined coming into this tournament that we would face England at some point. I wasn't aware of when we were able to see each other," she said. "I thought it was going to be at Wembley, but now it's in Sheffield, and I think that's a good thing for us because we played a few games there. It's kind of like our home pitch, and so I look forward to it."

Lindahl is well aware of the dangers England pose, with tournament top scorer Beth Mead in the form of her life, scoring five goals in the Euros and having had a hand in 31 goals in all competitions under Sarina Wiegman so far (19 goals, 12 assists) in 18 games.

"I think we've all seen how much success they've had with their wingers, especially Beth Mead," Lindahl added.

"They have quality players in every position and two of them in every position. So I think we're gonna face a collective, well-organised team under the leadership of their new coach. So it's going to be a tough one."

Fran Kirby says England will "lean on" the experience of head coach Sarina Wiegman in their Women's Euros semi-final showdown with Sweden.

Wiegman's side are seeking a third appearance in the final of this competition when they clash with the 1984 champions at Bramall Lane on Tuesday - and first since 2009.

Following their dramatic quarter-final victory over Spain, the Lionesses are now unbeaten in 18 matches, while Sweden have not lost since a 2-1 defeat by Denmark in March 2020.

The tournament hosts will also be aiming to avoid a fourth successive semi-final defeat in major competitions, having fallen at this stage of the 2017 European Championship as well as the World Cup in 2015 and 2019.

Meanwhile, Wiegman is looking to lift this trophy for the second time in as many editions, after guiding her native Netherlands to glory five years ago.

And Kirby, who has played in every match of England's run to the last four, believes the 52-year-old's previous experience of the big occasions will be hugely beneficial in the Lionesses' quest to avert further semi-final heartache.

"She's been there and done it; she's got to finals, she's won major finals," the forward said. "The best person to get us through is her.

"I think she'll come with a lot of experience and a lot of advice; she already has done leading into this tournament.

"For her, it's a case of doing what's normal because she's been to a few now. I'm sure we'll lean on her a little bit in order to get through it.

"First and foremost, she's a great coach; the way that she sees football, the way that she analyses other teams. 

"But I think her management of players sticks out for me and the way that she's made every person feel valued in this team - whether you're a starter, whether you're coming in as a sub, whether you don't get any minutes.

"I think everyone knows what their role is in the team and what they're there to do. They've taken that in their stride.

"I think that's a compliment to her in how people have managed themselves and made sure that when you're called upon, you're ready to go. It's not easy to do things like that when you've been sat on the bench.

"To make people still feel valued and feel hungry when they come on the pitch that they can change it, and they can help is a really special quality, and I think she has that."

Jubilant Sweden star Magdalena Eriksson is targeting the scalp of hosts England in the Euro 2022 semi-finals and admits it would be fun to "ruin their party".

Sweden, ranked second in the world by FIFA, have quietly come through the rounds to reach the last-four stage.

They beat Belgium 1-0 in Friday night's quarter-final at Leigh, with near-relentless pressure paying off in stoppage time when Linda Sembrant finally found the net.

Eriksson, who captains Chelsea in the Women's Super League, is set to face club-mates including Fran Kirby and Millie Bright in Tuesday's Bramall Lane semi-final clash.

England have reached the final four for a second consecutive Women's European Championship, and they lost 3-0 to the Netherlands last time.

This time the Lionesses are riding the wave of popular support in England, with a huge audience of 9.1million tuning in on television and online to watch the 2-1 quarter-final win over Spain.

Quoted in Swedish newspaper Expressen after Friday night's game, Eriksson said she was relishing the prospect of tackling Sarina Wiegman's team at the home of Sheffield United.

"It is incredibly special. I was happy when they progressed, it will be an incredibly cool challenge," Eriksson said.

"We want to do everything we can to ruin their party. They have done well and I know a lot of their players."

Match-winner Sembrant said it felt "absolutely magical" to get over the line against Belgium and tee up the England clash.

"It will be a hugely exciting match to meet them in England in a semi-final," Sembrant said. "It will be really cool. Now we have to recover and recharge."

When England came off the pitch at the Amex Stadium against Norway nine days ago, they had just wiped the floor with their Group A opponents, dispatching them 8-0.

Suffice to say the return to Brighton to face Spain in the last eight was a more difficult encounter for Sarina Wiegman's side, but they showed true grit and determination to advance to the semi-finals at the Women’s European Championships.

Spain had been the last team to stop England from winning, with their 0-0 draw in February being the final result before the Lionesses went on a nine-game winning streak (now 10). They were also the only side that England had failed to score against in their first 17 games under Wiegman.

However, a hard-working performance from the hosts saw them come from behind to secure a 2-1 extra-time victory, eliminating one of the other pre-tournament favourites.

Prior to the game, La Roja boss Jorge Vilda appeared to be playing mind games, aiming to put pressure on his opponents.

"If I imagine Spain playing a quarter-final against England, in a home Euros they had organised, a Spain team playing in a big Spanish stadium, I imagine this would weigh on us. I think this could take away more than it gives," he said at his pre-match news conference.

He appeared to be correct as England struggled to find anything like the fluency they enjoyed in recent games for much of normal time, whether it was nerves or a well-executed Spain gameplan.

It was a tentative start on the English south coast, clear immediately that Spain would be a tougher proposition than Norway. They had lost only one game (v Germany in the group stage) in their previous 26 international matches (W21 D4), so were always going to be a hard nut for England to crack.

Mariona Caldentey was causing problems for Lucy Bronze down the Spain left and had the first shot on target after 16 mins as the visitors started to impose their possession game, giving England a problem they were yet to face in the tournament so far.

Olga Carmona was tasked with keeping tournament top scorer Beth Mead quiet and achieved just that as the England star was unable to exert any authority on the game.

Despite being largely on the back foot, the hosts thought they had taken the lead in the 37th minute when a free-kick was headed down into the path of Ellen White, who fired home, only for an offside flag to correctly go up, with White denied the chance to equal Wayne Rooney's England record of 53 goals.

Ballon d'Or winner Alexia Putellas was an obvious miss for Vilda's side. The Barcelona captain finished as the Champions League's top goalscorer with 11 goals last season and ended her domestic campaign with 18.

Spain's most capped player (100), who also won the FIFA Best Women's Player award in 2021, will miss the next 10-12 months with an ACL injury, and would have likely been a key factor in this one as La Roja dominated the ball for large spells but struggled to find their way through Wiegman's team.

England, who were 6-0 up at half-time when they played Norway, managed just the one shot in the opening 45 minutes here, and that did not arrive until the 40th minute, with Spain having six.

The Lionesses started the second half brightly, though, noticeably pressing higher up the pitch and with more fervour.

However, it was half-time Spain substitute, Athenea del Castillo, who produced a bit of magic to open the scoring, jinking inside Rachel Daly from the right before cutting back to Esther Gonzalez, who turned and finished well past Mary Earps in the 54th minute.

Wiegman responded by making her own substitutions, surprisingly removing Mead and White for Alessia Russo and Chloe Kelly.

It almost made a difference straight away as Russo flicked a ball on for Lauren Hemp, who was brought down in the penalty area, but referee Stephanie Frappart waved away the claims much to the annoyance of the vocal home fans.

It appeared England had given all they had, until another substitute made the difference as Ella Toone ran onto a Russo knockdown to prod the ball past Sandra Panos and equalise with six minutes remaining.

That forced extra-time and momentum swung in England's favour as Georgia Stanway went on a run through the middle before unleashing a ferocious strike past Panos from 25 yards to send the home fans into raptures.

Stanway's effort was the 100th goal England have scored under Wiegman in just her 18th game in charge, and the 11th from outside the penalty area.

It was now Spain who looked like they had run out of ideas, and despite a couple of minor scares, England held on to seal their place in the final four and show they may not always need to dominate games to get the job done.

A great roar went up from the 28,994 in attendance in Brighton, enough to frighten the local seagulls, as England celebrated a hard-fought victory.

If the thrashing of Norway had shown what England were capable of when at full flow, this win displayed another weapon in the arsenal that the hosts will likely have to call on again if they are to go all the way.

Georgia Stanway powered home a stunning extra-time strike to send England into the Euro 2022 semi-finals with a 2-1 victory over Spain in Brighton on Wednesday. 

The Lionesses had not lost in 17 games under coach Sarina Wiegman but fell behind to Esther Gonzalez's second-half finish before substitute Ella Toone equalised with six minutes to go. 

Stanway smashed in the decisive goal in the 96th minute and England will next face either Sweden or Belgium, who meet in Leigh on Friday, after making the last four at a major tournament for the fourth successive time. 

Ellen White thought she had opened the scoring in a cagey first half but was denied by the offside flag, before Gonzalez finished into the bottom-left corner after Athenea del Castillo's cutback in the 54th minute. 

Mary Earps kept England in the game with a smart save from Del Castillo's deflected cross and the Lionesses capitalised as Toone volleyed home from Alessia Russo's cushioned header to send the match to extra time. 

Stanway then delivered the decisive moment, receiving the ball from Keira Walsh before driving forward and arrowing into the top-left corner to keep England's Euro 2022 hopes alive. 

Sarina Wiegman will be back on the touchline for England's Euro 2022 quarter-final against Spain after testing negative for COVID-19.

The Lionesses cruised through the group stages to reach the last eight on home turf, but were without head coach Wiegman for their most recent outing, against Northern Ireland, due to a positive coronavirus test.

Wiegman subsequently suggested she was "very hopeful" of returning for the crucial knockout clash at the AMEX Stadium, and the FA confirmed on Wednesday that the 52-year-old had recovered in time.

"Sarina Wiegman has tested negative for Covid," a statement from the FA read. 

"Wiegman will now return to all elements of her role and will take her place on the bench for tonight's quarter-final against Spain."

Wiegman has named the same starting XI in every match so far and is expected to do the same in Brighton, on the same ground where England thumped Norway 8-0 in their second group-stage match.

The winners of England's clash with La Roja will face either Sweden or Belgium, who meet at Leigh on Friday, in the final four.

Leah Williamson is hopeful that England manager Sarina Wiegman will be in the dugout for Wednesday's Women's European Championship quarter-final against Spain.

Wiegman missed the final group game against Northern Ireland after testing positive for COVID-19, though England had already qualified as Group A winners prior to the 5-0 victory in Southampton.

The Dutch coach will need to test negative before the last-eight clash at Brighton and Hove Albion's Amex Stadium, and is not the only member of the England camp to test positive, with goalkeeper Hannah Hampton being ruled out of the Spain game for the same reason on Tuesday.

Speaking at a news conference ahead of the game, Lionesses captain Williamson acknowledged the frustration of being affected by COVID, but believes the squad preparation means they should not be too adversely affected.

"It's frustrating. For somebody like Hannah, we want her around the team and it's disappointing for her to miss out," Williamson said. "And obviously, Sarina, we'll see how that that works out.

"Ideally, you'd have everybody available, but I think we're lucky that we're such a well-prepared team. Despite the frustration, I think it doesn't derail us at all, which is obviously a massive sort of well done to the staff and everybody around the team for making sure it doesn't."

England eased through the group stage, beating Austria 1-0 at Old Trafford in the opening game before thrashing Norway 8-0 in Brighton to secure their place atop the group, and Williamson had words of praise for Wiegman, who has made a big impact on the Lionesses.

Since her appointment in September, England have won 15 and drawn two of her first 17 outings, scoring a remarkable 98 goals while conceding only three.

"Obviously, it'll be a massive, massive bonus for us [if Wiegman is present]," Williamson said. "Sarina's experience and character speaks for itself, and she's great at connecting with us.

"Obviously, it's great to have her influence, and it's not changed anything in terms of the information that she provides, but naturally having her around the team is a good thing as well.

"I think we're sturdy enough to survive without her, as we showed the other day, but I think to have her back [would] be great, obviously."

England tackle Spain in a heavyweight quarter-final as the knockout stages of Euro 2022 get under way on Wednesday, with records already tumbling and data quirks around every corner.

The tournament has just passed its halfway stage in terms of the total number of games, with 16 of 31 having been played, and already more spectators have seen the finals in England than have attended any previous Women's Euros.

UEFA said 369,314 tickets were sold for group-stage games, with the soaring popularity of the women's game meaning the tournament attendance record of 240,055, set in the Netherlands five years ago, has been obliterated.

Sarina Wiegman's free-scoring England Lionesses have played an instrumental part in the tournament's success to date, with the host nation rallying around a team who scored a record 14 goals in the group stage, with Beth Mead's personal haul of five goals so far also a new all-time best for the group round.

Now the knockout stages await and the stakes are raised. Stats Perform, assisted by data from Opta, has looked at the tournament so far, plus each last-eight game, to see where the title might be won and lost.


The story so far

England have been the deadliest finishers, scoring 14 goals with a conversion rate of 24.6 per cent. Sweden sit next on that list, putting away 23.5 per cent of chances to net eight goals, five of which came in their final group game against Portugal.

France have scored all eight of their goals in the first half of their games, while England have hit nine before the interval and added five afterwards. The Netherlands have only scored twice prior to half-time in their games but have netted six second-half strikes, the most of all teams.

Switzerland exited after losing in painfully familiar fashion, with a second-half capitulation in going down 4-1 to the Dutch. The Swiss kept three first-half clean sheets in Group C but were pushovers after the interval, conceding eight times. In sharp contrast, all three of the goals Spain have shipped have come in the opening 45 minutes.

Spain have played the most passes overall, excluding crosses. Their total of 2,052 passes has come with an 86.0 per cent accuracy rate, while England have attempted the second highest number of passes (1,674) with a competition-leading 86.5 per cent precision.

The Spanish national team are famed for their possession-based, attractive football, teasing their way through defences with clever passes. Yet four of Spain's five goals have been headers, compared to three of 14 for England.

Mead sits top of the goal involvements list with seven (five goals, two assists), which puts her comfortably ahead of England team-mate Fran Kirby and Sweden's Kosovare Asllani, both of whom have scored once and set up three goals for a total of four involvements each.

Spain have the top five on the list of players with the most passes in the opposition half, led by defender Mapi Leon who has played 176 passes with a success rate of 90.3 per cent. For passes into the final third, Leon's accuracy dips to 83 per cent.


Best is still to come...

QUARTER-FINAL 1: Spain v England – July 20, Brighton

England have a record of played two, won two in previous Women's Euros quarter-finals, beating Finland 3-2 in 2009 and then edging France 1-0 five years ago in the Netherlands. Meanwhile, Spain have lost both of their previous games at this stage, going down 3-1 to Norway in 2013 and suffering a penalty shoot-out defeat to Austria in 2017, following a goalless draw.

Four of England's starters from the 2017 win over France have played in every game so far at these finals: Lucy Bronze, Mille Bright, Kirby and Ellen White.

England have never lost on home soil against Spain (P7 W4 D3), with the teams battling out a 0-0 draw when they last met in February. However, Spain have beaten England three times before when taking all 15 previous encounters into account, losing six and drawing six.

Including a 20-0 win over Latvia last November, England have scored 98 goals in their 17 games under head coach Sarina Wiegman, scoring an average of 5.8 goals per game and only conceding three times.

Mead's haul of five goals so far matches Jodie Taylor's Lionesses record haul from the last Euros, which won her the Golden Boot. Spain have scored five goals in total during this tournament, with five different scorers.

QF2: Germany v Austria – July 21, Brentford

Germany are one of two teams, along with England, who have yet to concede a goal. That does not bode well for Austria, who are making their second appearance at this stage after beating Norway in the last round of group games.

The Austrians will start as big underdogs against the eight-time champions (winners once as West Germany, seven times as Germany), with Germany having won 15 of their most recent 16 games when going beyond the group stages. That had been a 15-game winning run until Denmark halted it in the 2017 quarter-finals, scoring a surprise 2-1 win.

Austria might need Barbara Dunst's luck to change if they are to stand any chance. Dunst has had 11 shots and created eight chances for Austria so far in this tournament, but she has yet to score or have an assist. She had the most direct involvements in shots (19) without scoring or assisting of all players in the group stage.

QF3: Sweden v Belgium – July 22, Leigh

Sweden are the highest-placed team on the FIFA ranking list, sitting second, behind the United States. They are quietly going about their business in England, and it would be a major surprise for them not to reach the semi-finals from this tie.

Including penalties, Sweden scored more goals from set-pieces than any other side in the group stage (5). Belgium might be concerned by that, given two of the three goals they have conceded came from dead-ball scenarios.

Of the eight quarter-finalists, Belgium scored the joint-fewest goals (3) in the group stage, had the fewest shots (21), the fewest shots on target (11) and the lowest expected goals total (2.6). The Red Flames surely need to find more of a spark for this big game.

QF4: France v Netherlands – July 23, Rotherham

France will be playing a fourth consecutive match in Rotherham, a town which is twinned with the French city of Saint-Quentin.

This is also a fourth consecutive Women's Euros quarter-final for France, who have lost each time at this stage, including a penalty shoot-out defeat to the Netherlands in 2009. They were beaten on spot-kicks by Denmark in 2013, and then slumped 1-0 to England in 2017. France have lost star striker Marie-Antoinette Katoto to an ACL knee injury, so memories of fast-flowing football in their opening 5-1 win over Italy are becoming distant.

Defending their title this time, the Netherlands have lost Euro 2017 player of the tournament Lieke Martens to injury and star goalscorer Vivianne Miedema has been sidelined of late after a COVID-19 positive test.

Yet the Dutch have progressed on each of the two occasions they have reached the quarter-finals previously, with the win over France in 2009 followed in 2017 by a 2-0 victory over Sweden.

Sarina Wiegman said she was "very hopeful" of returning to the touchline for England's Euro 2022 quarter-final against Spain and revealed the Lionesses have tightened their squad bubble.

Head coach Wiegman was absent from the team's final group match against Northern Ireland after testing positive for COVID-19, and back-up goalkeeper Hannah Hampton has also come down with the coronavirus.

Wiegman said the worst of her symptoms were "a little temperature and a little coughing", and she has been able to watch team training from a safe distance, while wearing a mask.

"I'm good, I'm feeling well, actually ready to go, but still have to wait," said a healthy-looking Wiegman in a virtual news conference.

"Of course, I'm very hopeful, but we'll see what happens and we don't know. If I can't be there, I'll be there in another way."

Former Netherlands coach Wiegman would rather be at the game in Brighton, but if she does not test negative before the team travel from their London base, she will have a phone line to the England bench.

After naming the same team for each of England's three group games, Wiegman hinted she would go with that favoured XI again.

 

Spain have been hampered by the loss of star players Alexia Putellas and Jennifer Hermoso, meaning they are significantly under-strength, but they have still looked impressive at times and could test the hosts.

Their game is possession-based, and that is demonstrated by Spain having played the most passes in the opposition half – excluding crosses – at the tournament so far. Their total of 1,274 such passes puts them well clear on that list, with England second with 936 passes and France (746) down in third.

"Of course they missed two key players, but I still think they have a very good team, and they're very tight on the ball, but we've seen they have some vulnerabilities, so absolutely it's going to be a top game and I hope we'll be successful," Wiegman said.

"They're a very good team, we're a very good team too, and we want to play the best game we can and hopefully that will bring us the win. They'll probably have the ball a lot; I hope we'll have a lot of the ball too."

The COVID-19 situation worries every team, with the prospect of key personnel being forced out of important games. Tournament favourites England are doing all they can to avoid the virus circulating.

"It's very invisible, but we're trying to stay in our bubble and do the right things," Wiegman said. "When there is a positive we have to be agile, creative and continue with the ones that are fit.

"We did some more strict measurements and everyone understands. It's not the worst nightmare, it's just the situation we have to deal with."

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