England captain Leah Williamson will miss the World Cup after it was confirmed she has ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament.

Williamson suffered the injury during Arsenal's 1-0 defeat to Manchester United in the Women's Super League on Wednesday after catching her studs in the turf at Leigh Sports Village.

With the World Cup starting on July 20, Lionesses head coach Sarina Wiegman will need to consider her other options at centre-back without Williamson, who helped lead her country to European Championships glory on home soil last year.

A statement from Arsenal on Friday confirmed the diagnosis, saying: "We can confirm that Leah Williamson suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in our Barclays Women's Super League match against Manchester United on Wednesday night.

"Leah was substituted in the first half of the game at Leigh Sports Village and underwent further assessment on Thursday to determine the extent of the injury.

"Leah will now begin a period of rehabilitation and is set for an extended spell on the sidelines. She will undergo surgery in due course.

"Everyone at Arsenal will be supporting Leah closely throughout the journey ahead and we would ask that her privacy is respected at this time."

It is the same injury sustained by Williamson's club and country team-mate Beth Mead in November, with Mead in a race against time to make it back in time for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Reacting at a press conference, boss of Arsenal's WSL title rivals Manchester City, Gareth Taylor, said: "It's obviously not good for Leah or for Arsenal or for England as well."

Taylor backed Williamson to come back strongly, saying: "She's young, she's capable enough of recovering," and pointed out the injury was "very similar to what happened with Chloe [Kelly] two seasons ago", with the striker able to return to action and hit England's winner in the European Championship final against Germany last July.

England manager Sarina Wiegman was "not worried" despite seeing her team's undefeated streak end at the hands of Australia.

The Lionesses went into the friendly on a 30-match unbeaten run, but lost 2-0 at the Brentford Community Stadium on Tuesday thanks to goals from Sam Kerr and Charlotte Grant.

It came just days after the European champions won the first ever women's Finalissima against Brazil on penalties, but Wiegman is not concerned as England prepare for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, which gets underway in July.

"I'm not worried. I don't worry very quickly," she said after the game. "We know we have to be at our top level and that's when we go into the World Cup too.

"Every game we get some warnings – against Brazil we got some warnings in the Finalissima. We know where we want to go to and what we have to do.

"I don't think we're losing momentum, I think it's building. There's 100 days to go and everyone's really excited to go to Australia and this is just a very big learning moment for us that we need to get to a higher level to win these games."

On losing the undefeated streak, Wiegman added: "I haven't been focused on that ever. We just want to win every game and you remind us all of the time [about the unbeaten run] but we don't talk about that in our camp.

"We talk about the next game and we want to improve every game and try to adapt to the opponent.

"I would've loved to have had a 31st win but sometimes you win and sometimes you lose."

Captain Leah Williamson saw a mistake punished by Kerr to open the scoring, and she told ITV: "Yeah. That first goal probably made it worse for me than everybody else but the whole team feels really, really rubbish about losing. It hurts."

She added: "[It's] absolutely not a setback [before the World Cup]. Sometimes you have to take blessings in disguise and I think maybe that's not the worst thing that could've happened to us.

"We wanted to learn this whole time, we wanted to be pushed to our limits and we need to take it up a new level.

"In the past, we won those games, we turned them around but actually tonight to lose it gives you a bit of fire."

England tasted defeat for the first time under Sarina Wiegman as goals from Sam Kerr and Charlotte Grant saw them shocked 2-0 by Australia on Tuesday.

The Lionesses headed into the game on a 30-match unbeaten run, one that has seen them win Euro 2022 as well as the Finalissima against Brazil last week.

But a below-par display saw their streak ended at the Brentford Community Stadium, as an uncharacteristic mistake from captain Leah Williamson allowed Kerr to nip in and open the scoring by lifting the ball over Mary Earps and in.

Grant then doubled her team's lead, arriving at the back post to meet Kerr's deep cross before her header towards goal was deflected by Williamson, completely wrong-footing Earps and sealing victory for Australia.

The upset defeat is not ideal preparation for England as they look ahead to the upcoming World Cup, hosted by the team they just lost to, which is now just 100 days away.

Having suffered her first defeat during her England tenure, Wiegman was at a loss to explain why her team played so poorly, telling ITV4: "I don't have the reason.

"We spoke at half-time that we need to be quicker, have energy, stretch them and run behind. At other times we lost the ball a little quickly. The reasons for that, I have to think about a little longer.

"This is the first time we've lost, but we always learn. We see things done well and things we have to do better. We have to improve to be at our best at the World Cup. Every game is for learning, and this is a big one."

Leah Williamson toasted an end to Arsenal's trophy drought as England's Euro 2022 captain helped the Gunners topple Chelsea in the Women's League Cup final.

The leader of the Lionesses is vice-captain of Arsenal, with the 25-year-old having been part of the side that won the 2018-19 Women's Super League.

Sunday's success at Selhurst Park was the first silverware the team have won since that league championship, with captain Kim Little scoring from the spot in a 3-1 win over Emma Hayes' Blues.

Australia star Sam Kerr headed Chelsea into a second-minute lead, with the side from west London looking to follow up their FA Cup victory over Arsenal from seven days earlier.

However, Arsenal turned it around, with Swedish forward Stina Blackstenius slotting a 16th-minute equaliser before Scottish midfielder Little netted a penalty eight minutes later after Katie McCabe was tripped.

An own goal from Niamh Charles in first-half stoppage time turned out to be the game's final goal, giving Arsenal a record-extending sixth triumph in the competition.

Williamson said of the result: "I feel good, you've got to break the chain at some point so today was that day."

Satisfied skipper Little told BBC Sport: "I'm so proud of the team. Off the back of last week's result we needed to turn it around, and we had a good week's training and talked about a lot of things we needed to be better at.

"I was thinking after they scored, 'what could we have done to stop that?', because it was such a good goal. But because it was so early we just needed to reset and we did that, and the rest of our first-half performance was pretty special and that's what won us the match today.

"We want to win trophies, and we're disappointed in ourselves that we've not done that before now, but here it is, and I'm just happy and proud of the girls."

Arsenal edged the game by 1.56 to 1.20 on expected goals, despite having just eight goal attempts to 14 by Chelsea.

Head coach Jonas Eidevall, who has delivered silverware just 18 months into his reign, gave his coat away after the game to a fan who had offered the team encouragement after the FA Cup loss to Chelsea.

The Swedish coach explained to arsenal.com: "I said, 'People like you are what make this football club great. Your optimism gives me energy, and I can give that back to the team and it can help our performance. So, you come here and do the same thing next Sunday and we win, you’ll get my coat.'

"I’m very happy for him, very happy for us and now I just need to sort out a new coat."

Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe are among the leading candidates for The Best FIFA Men's Player award after unsurprisingly being named on the 14-strong list of nominees on Thursday.

FIFA's awards ceremony will take place on February 27 and recognise the sport's high achievers from 2022 across several categories, with The Best FIFA Men's Player prize being the headline attraction.

Messi, who won the 2019 award and came a close second to Robert Lewandowski for 2021, will be the firm favourite after inspiring Argentina to World Cup success.

It was the Albiceleste's first such title since 1986, and Messi played a crucial role in the triumph as Argentina beat France on penalties after a 3-3 draw last month.

Messi scored five goals and set up another three to win himself the Golden Ball, and he nearly took home the Golden Boot as well.

Of course, his Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Kylian Mbappe won the latter prize thanks to his hat-trick against Argentina in the dramatic final, and he will likely be Messi's closest rival.

Had it not been a World Cup year, Manchester City's Erling Haaland might have fancied his chances of staking a claim after a sensational start to life in the Premier League.

Ballon d'Or winner Karim Benzema is among the nominees and may be expecting a top-three finish after carrying Real Madrid to another Champions League crown, though his lack of World Cup involvement could prove detrimental.

Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti is in the running for The Best FIFA Men's Coach gong, though Argentina's Lionel Scaloni will likely be the favourite of the five-man shortlist.

Argentina are also represented in The Best FIFA Men's Goalkeeper category by Emiliano Martinez among the five nominees.

For the women's prizes, Euro 2022 champions England have several nominations.

Beth Mead, Keira Walsh and Leah Williamson are all up for the players' award; Sarina Wiegman will be the favourite for the coaches' accolade; and Mary Earps is in contention to be named The Best FIFA Women's Goalkeeper.

The voting process will involve international captains and coaches, journalists, and fans selecting their winners in the various categories.

Voting closes on February 3 and FIFA will announce three finalists from each section thereafter.

NOMINATIONS

The Best FIFA Men's Player
Julian Alvarez (Argentina/River Plate/Manchester City)
Jude Bellingham (England/Borussia Dortmund) 
Karim Benzema (France/Real Madrid) 
Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium/Manchester City)
Erling Haaland (Norway/ Borussia Dortmund/Manchester City)
Achraf Hakimi (Morocco/Paris Saint-Germain) 
Robert Lewandowski (Poland/Bayern Munich/Barcelona)
Sadio Mane (Senegal/Liverpool/Bayern Munich)
Kylian Mbappe (France/Paris Saint-Germain)
Lionel Messi (Argentina/Paris Saint-Germain)
Luka Modric (Croatia/Real Madrid)
Neymar (Brazil/Paris Saint-Germain)
Mohamed Salah (Egypt/Liverpool) 
Vinicius Junior (Brazil/Real Madrid)

The Best FIFA Men's Coach
Carlo Ancelotti (Italy/Real Madrid)
Didier Deschamps (France/French National Team)
Pep Guardiola (Spain/Manchester City) 
Walid Regragui (Morocco/Wydad AC/Moroccan National Team)
Lionel Scaloni (Argentina/Argentinian National Team) 

The Best FIFA Men's Goalkeeper
Alisson Becker (Brazil/Liverpool) 
Yassine Bounou (Morocco/Sevilla)
Thibaut Courtois (Belgium/Real Madrid)
Ederson (Brazil/Manchester City)
Emiliano Martinez (Argentina/Aston Villa) 

The Best FIFA Women's Player: 
Aitana Bonmatí (Spain/Barcelona)
Debinha (Brazil/North Carolina Courage)
Jessie Fleming (Canada/Chelsea)
Ada Hegerberg (Norway/Lyon)
Sam Kerr (Australia/Chelsea)
Beth Mead (England/Arsenal)
Vivianne Miedema (Netherlands/Arsenal)
Alex Morgan (United States/Orlando Pride/San Diego Wave)
Lena Oberdorf (Germany/Wolfsburg)
Alexandra Popp (Germany/Wolfsburg)
Alexia Putellas (Spain/Barcelona)
Wendie Renard (France/Lyon)
Keira Walsh (England/Manchester City/Barcelona)
Leah Williamson (England/Arsenal)

The Best FIFA Women's Coach
Sonia Bompastor (France/Lyon) 
Emma Hayes (England/Chelsea)
Bev Priestman (England/Canadian National Team)
Pia Sundhage (Sweden/Brazilian National Team)
Martina Voss-Tecklenburg (Germany/German National Team)
Sarina Wiegman (Netherlands / English National Team)

The Best FIFA Women's Goalkeeper
Ann-Katrin Berger (Germany/Chelsea Women)
Mary Earps (England/Manchester United) 
Christiane Endler (Chile/Lyon)
Merle Frohms (Germany/Eintracht Frankfurt /Wolfsburg)
Alyssa Naeher (United States/Chicago Red Stars)
Sandra Panos Garca-Villamil (Spain/Barcelona)

England captain Leah Williamson will miss Friday's friendly against the United States at Wembley after sustaining an injury in training.

Williamson, who led Sarina Wiegman's team to a remarkable European Championship triumph in July, requires further assessment on the unspecified injury.

Fellow Euro 2022 winners Lotte Wubben-Moy and Nikita Parris have been added to England's squad, the Football Association said, with West Ham defender Lucy Parker withdrawing through injury. Former skipper Steph Houghton remains out of the picture for now, but Wiegman has said the door remains open to her.

The sell-out clash with the reigning world champions will represent a stern test of England's credentials ahead of next year's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

England have picked up just two victories in their last 16 meetings with the USA in all competitions (D2 L12), failing to win any of their last four such games since a 2017 victory in the SheBelieves Cup.

However, England are still yet to lose under Wiegman, winning 20 of their 22 matches since she took charge last year, scoring a total of 118 goals.

England will head to Brighton and Hove Albion's AMEX Stadium to host the Czech Republic next Tuesday after facing the USA.

Germany dominated the team of the tournament for the Women's Euro 2022 despite losing 2-1 to England in Sunday's Wembley final.

Both teams had won every match en route to a highly anticipated decider at England's national stadium in front of a record crowd for a European Championship match, with 87,192 in attendance.

An extra-time winner from Chloe Kelly proved the difference as the Lionesses claimed their first major title, dealing rivals Germany their first defeat in nine Women's Euros finals.

Beth Mead was forced off in the final but had still done enough to be named player of the tournament, also edging the top scorer award on assists ahead of Alexandra Popp – who missed the match following an injury in the warm-up.

Yet there was room for both superstar performers in the official team of the tournament.

Mead was among four England players, with goalkeeper Mary Earps, captain Leah Williamson and midfielder pass master Keira Walsh each also recognised.

Meanwhile, Germany had five players included; along with Popp, defenders Giulia Gwinn and Martina Hegering made the cut, as did young player of the tournament Lena Oberdorf.

Next to Mead and Popp in the front three was Klara Buhl, even though coronavirus kept her out of both the semi-finals and the final.

France were beaten by Germany in the last four and were represented by defender Sakina Karchaoui, while Spain lost to both finalists but still had Aitana Bonmati make the XI.

Women's Euro 2022 team of the tournament:

Mary Earps (England); Giulia Gwinn (Germany), Leah Williamson (England), Martina Hegering (Germany), Sakina Karchaoui (France); Keira Walsh (England), Lena Oberdorf (Germany), Aitana Bonmati (Spain); Beth Mead (England), Alexandra Popp (Germany), Klara Buhl (Germany).

Captain Leah Williamson described England's Euro 2022 final victory over Germany as "the proudest moment of my life".

A gripping showpiece at Wembley on Sunday saw England scrape a 2-1 victory after extra time, with substitutes Ella Toone and Chloe Kelly getting the goals for the hosts.

Williamson lifted the trophy as a record crowd of 87,192 saluted the first-time champions, who have been steered to glory by Sarina Wiegman, the manager who led the Netherlands to the win the European Championship five years ago.

"I just can't stop crying," said Williamson in a pitchside BBC interview.

"We talk and we talk and we talk, and we finally do it. It's about doing it on the pitch, and I tell you what – the kids are all right!

"It's the proudest moment of my life until the day I have kids I suppose, so I'm going to lap it up.

"I was advised to take in every single second because you're going to want to relive it over and over, and I'll be reliving that for a long time.

"The legacy of this tournament is the change in society. It's everything that we've done. We've brought everybody together. We've got people at games, and we want them to come to WSL [Women's Super League] games, but the legacy of this team is winners and that's the start of a journey.

"I love every single one of them. I'm so proud to be English."

As England celebrated their finest hour, Lionesses legend Alex Scott revealed top clubs in England had refused to allow their stadiums to be used for the European finals, and said any johnny-come-lately sponsorship hopefuls had probably already missed the boat.

Scott and Ian Wright, both working as pundits, spoke of their hopes for how the women's game could continue to grow, with Wright making an impassioned plea for those charmed by the England team over the past four weeks to get out to club games.

And Scott, a member of the England team who lost 6-2 to Germany in the Euro 2009 final, took a swipe at those who in her view had done women's football no favours.

Scott: "Let's remind ourselves that in 2018 we were begging people to host in their stadiums a women's game for this Euros. So many people said no. I hope you're all looking at yourselves right now because you weren't brave enough.

"I'm not standing up at corporate events in front of sponsors any more begging for them to get involved in the women's game, because you know what, if you're not involved you've missed the boat, you've missed the train. Because look at this: it has finally left the station, and it is gathering speed."

Beth Mead was named player of the tournament and won the Golden Boot, pipping Alexandra Popp on an assists tie-breaker after they finished level on six goals. Popp missed the final through injury.

But it was not Mead who was the hero in the final, as England's substitutes stepped up again.

Toone, who lobbed in a brilliant opening goal, is among the young players set to play a huge part in the future of the England side.

The 22-year-old Manchester United forward said of Sunday's success: "It doesn't seem real. I'm absolutely buzzing my head off.

"It's the best moment of my career, the best moment of my life ever. I'm absolutely on top of the world and I'm so proud to do it with these girls."

Sarina Wiegman has told England's silky-skilled Lionesses to be on their guard for a physical battle from Germany in the Euro 2022 final.

The England boss has won all 11 of her European Championship matches as a manager, including her run to glory in charge of the Netherlands five years ago.

Arguably the ultimate test awaits on Sunday at Wembley, though, as England tackle eight-time champions Germany.

The fearsome Alexandra Popp leads the Germany attack, having grabbed two brilliant poacher's finishes against France in the semi-final to match Beth Mead's tournament-leading six-goal haul.

Both Popp goals came from crosses, and Wiegman suspects Germany will often look to take a direct route to the heart of England's defence, where Millie Bright and Leah Williamson stand to face their toughest test of the tournament.

"At some point it might be a little physical," Wiegman said in a news conference on Saturday. "Germany can play very direct. That's what we expect."

Hosts England have played some of the most attractive football on their way through to a first European final since 2009, when they were walloped 6-2 by Germany in Helsinki.

Wiegman believes her players can unlock a German defence that has conceded just once so far – an unlucky own goal in the France game.

"We did see some things we might want to exploit," Wiegman said, "but we'll see that tomorrow. This is what we expected to come up against, a team playing their best football, and luckily we're playing ours."

Asked whether she considered Germany to be the strongest team in the tournament, Wiegman said: "I think we have a very good team too and we don't fear anyone."

England have practised penalties, should they come into play, and Wiegman says the camp has been "pretty calm" ahead of the sellout game that is set to see the biggest crowd at any European Championship match, men's or women's.

Wiegman said she understood why the game was being spoken of as "a fairy tale fixture", given the footballing rivalry between the nations, but she is plainly not interested in such narratives.

Captain Williamson was reminded that Sunday would mark 10 years since Great Britain beat Brazil 1-0 at Wembley in an Olympic Games match, with Steph Houghton scoring the only goal that day.

Houghton went on to become England's skipper in 2014, and Williamson inherited the armband ahead of this tournament, marking a major step in her career, one she cannot have envisaged when she was in the crowd as a 15-year-old for that Brazil game.

Williamson said her parents "put women's football in front of my face" by taking her to Wembley for the Olympics match, and she predicted this weekend's final would be an occasion to match it.

England will have the overwhelming majority of supporters, but Germany boss Martina Voss-Tecklenburg is convinced her side can come out on top.

"We don't want to lose it, but in life you lose games and you have to cope with that. If the opponent is better tomorrow then we'll congratulate them fairly, but we're not planning to lose," Voss-Tecklenburg said.

Germany winger Svenja Huth, whose deliveries were converted to deadly effect by Popp in the France game, is aware of the "hype" surrounding the team back home as a potential ninth European title comes into view.

Huth stressed she and Germany would not be distracted by fervent English support.

Speaking at Wembley, Huth added: "The stadium is very impressive even when it is empty. So 90,000 people will be there tomorrow. Most of them will probably be against us and we are aware of that and it can be something good and nice as well."

England captain Leah Williamson believes the Women's Euro 2022 final is not the end of the story for this Lionesses team, describing the mark Sunday's match can have on the sport.

Just 90 minutes separate Sarina Wiegman's side from a first Euros title, having fallen short at the final hurdle in the past, but historic rivals Germany stand in their way.

England's stellar campaign on home soil has continued to build momentum for the women's game in the host country, but Williamson insists this is not the peak.

Instead, while she outlined how the performance from her team has changed the overall perception of the sport, the Lionesses skipper suggests there is plenty more to come in the years ahead.

"I think what we've seen in the tournament already is this hasn't just been a change for women's football but society in general. How we're looked upon," she said in a news conference.

"Tomorrow is not the end of a journey but the start of one. Regardless of the result of that, there'll be a nice moment for reflection.

"It's my job to go out for 90 minutes and play to win, but when we look back, we've really started something. I want this to be a mark for the future, not looking back on what's gone before.

"If I stick to my processes I've had as a footballer, it would be silly to look any further ahead than the 90 minutes. Tomorrow's a day of opportunity. 

"That's the only thing that makes it different to any other game, that the stakes are that much higher. This is what we all live for, and this is why I play football.

"This has felt unachievable for a very long time, the people that have come before that have had to fight. 

"I've only ever been involved in this work place, in football, but in most work places around the world, women have a few more battles to face and try to overcome.

"For every success we make and every change of judgement or perception or opening the eyes of somebody who [now] views women as somebody with the potential to be equal to her male counterpart...

"It's a powerful message, that in a typically male-dominated environment these strides that we take forward can impact everybody on that wider scale."

It is a major tournament held in England where the hosts are looking to end a long wait without silverware, but Germany stand in their way.

This feels awfully familiar.

Sarina Wiegman's Lionesses have captured the hearts of a nation, with fans flocking to watch them reach their first major tournament final since 2009 where they lost to *checks notes* Germany.

Meanwhile, Martina Voss-Tecklenburg's side have advanced to the final comparatively under the radar, with Die Nationalelf picking up impressive scalps of their own along the way.

It promises to be a fascinating contest at Wembley Stadium in front of what is expected to be a record crowd for any European Championship game - men's or women's - on Sunday.

A huge 90 minutes, maybe more, awaits the two teams, but where will it be won and lost? Stats Perform takes a look at the finer details ahead of the Euro 2022 final.

Raise a glass to Mead and Popp and drink it in

While teams win tournaments, we always look to those individuals who we will remember in years to come for their performances.

Undoubtedly two of the standout players in England during the last three weeks have been Beth Mead and Alexandra Popp, current joint-top scorers with six goals each.

The Lionesses have not found it difficult to score goals, finding the net 20 times in five games in the tournament so far. In fact, only Germany in 2009 have ever scored more at a Women's Euros (21).

Mead's goal in the opening 1-0 win against Austria at Old Trafford was vital for getting their campaign rolling, before she grabbed a hat-trick in the 8-0 thrashing of Norway, another in the 5-0 win against Northern Ireland, and the opener in the 4-0 semi-final humbling of Sweden.

While Germany have not been quite as proficient – still scoring a respectable 13 goals – Popp's contributions had initially come when adding to leads, with the captain's goals against Denmark, Spain, Finland and Austria all arriving when her team were already ahead.

However, she came into her own in the last-four clash with France, scoring both goals in the 2-1 win, including a dominant header to win it with 14 minutes remaining.

Having scored in all five of Germany's games so far, a goal at Wembley would see Popp become just the second player to score in every match from the group stages to the final at a single edition of a European Championship (men's and women's), after Michel Platini for France in 1984.

Whichever one raises their game for the final could ultimately provide the deciding factor. In the case of Popp, it could well be that she has to score herself to make a difference, as she has not yet recorded an assist in the tournament, whereas Mead has four assists to her name, more than anyone else.

The strongest spine could be the key

They say a good attack wins games while a good defence wins trophies. So far, both of these teams have been effective at each end of the pitch.

England's only goal conceded in five games came when they went 1-0 down to Spain in the quarter-finals, before coming back to win 2-1 in extra time, while Germany's one against was an own goal in their semi-final against France.

An opposition player is yet to find a way past Germany, and it is not hard to see why. Kathrin-Julia Hendrich and Marina Hegering have been a steely combination at the back for Voss-Tecklenburg's team, with Hegering making 41 ball recoveries in her five games, the joint seventh most among outfield players in the tournament.

Germany youngster Lena Oberdorf has had an outstanding tournament in midfield and has 44 ball recoveries to her name.

That is the same number as England captain Leah Williamson, a player who leads by example at centre-back alongside Millie Bright, who has managed a team-high 21 clearances.

Both centre-back pairings have had plenty of help in front of them, with 20-year-old Oberdorf attempting more tackles (19) than any other player from the two finalists, while England's Keira Walsh has recovered the ball 36 times and has the best passing accuracy of any player to have attempted at least 250 passes (89.56 per cent).

Midfield could be a key area for England, who as a team have attempted 2,597 passes overall with an accuracy of 83.4 per cent, both ranked second across the tournament, while Germany have attempted 2,222 passes (ranked fourth) with an accuracy of 77 per cent (ranked seventh).

England's Germany hoodoo

It is not exclusive to the women's game, but England have an unflattering record against Germany, especially in major tournaments.

The Lionesses have won just two of their 27 meetings with Germany in all competitions, and have lost more often against them than any other opponent (D4 L21), though they did win their last meeting 3-1 in February.

Germany have won all four of their matches against England at Women's Euros by an aggregate score of 15-4. This will be the first meeting between the sides at the tournament since the 2009 final, which Germany won 6-2.

That was the last time England reached a Women's Euros final, having also lost to Sweden in 1984, while this will be Germany's ninth appearance in a final, meaning they have appeared in 69 per cent of Women's Euros title matches. They have triumphed on all eight of their previous appearances in finals so far.

You could therefore be forgiven for thinking that too much history is on the Germans' side for England to stand a chance, but the tournament hosts have a not-so-secret weapon.

Wiegman will be the first manager to have led two different nations in Women's Euros finals, having won the 2017 tournament with the Netherlands, and her overall record in the competition shows 11 wins from 11 games, with her teams having scored 33 goals and conceded just four.

Whatever happens on Sunday, it is sure to be quite a spectacle. Will football finally come "home", or will Germany repeat history and add to their own outstanding legacy?

England captain Leah Williamson and fellow centre-back Millie Bright face the most demanding test of their careers when they face Germany's Alexandra Popp in Sunday's Euro 2022 final.

That is the view of former Lionesses skipper Faye White, who says England should "see themselves as equals" with the eight-time European champions but is wary of the threat posed by Germany's goal-hungry captain.

"I don't worry as much as I would have certainly a few years ago or in the past," White told Stats Perform.

White captained England in the Euro 2009 final, where hopes of a first European title were dashed as Germany dished out a 6-2 victory hammering in Helsinki.

Prolific striker Birgit Prinz scored twice that day for Germany, and White said Popp presents "exactly the same" threat, with the Wolfsburg star having joined England's Beth Mead on six goals in the battle for the Golden Boot.

Popp's double against France led Germany to a 2-1 semi-final victory, teeing up the shot at hosts England, whose 4-0 demolition of Sweden underlined their threat.

White said what impressed her most about Popp, who is coming off a long knee injury lay-off, was "that clinicalness... that desire we could see with both her goals".

The first was a volley on the stretch, and the second a bullet header after finding a yard of space that left White "speechless".

"That is what she has and that's why I think it's a massive game for our two centre-halves," White said.

White's view is that when it comes to powerful strikers, Germany "just breed them", with 31-year-old Popp the latest in a long line.

If England are to set aside a record of two wins from 27 past meetings with Germany, then keeping Popp quiet will surely be essential.

"Millie and Leah have to win the battle basically. And it's the biggest game of their lives. Trust me," White said.

England have had many special moments in the tournament, with an 8-0 thrashing of Norway in the group stage, the extra-time victory over Spain in the quarter-finals and Tuesday's demolition job on Sweden capturing the imagination.

Germany have perhaps had fewer similarly exhilarating results, but they have been impressively solid, leading White to state that "everyone just has to have a big game" if England are to lift the trophy at Wembley.

She says England are "in a mindset where they will relish it rather than be squashed by that", adding: "We are in the best place we will ever be to be able to do it and beat them. I just keep thinking, please make this time be the time we get one over on Germany."

England have been semi-finalists at the past two World Cups and also reached that stage at Euro 2017, which is why White considers this generation so different to her own.

"In my time when we played in 2009, it was a completely different gulf between the two teams that matched up in that final," she said. "The mindset of these current players is that they won't fear the Germans like we did. We know the history, but it's not history of recent times as the Germans haven't got to the latter stages of tournaments as England have recently."

The goals of the likes of Mead and Alessia Russo have been crucial, but it has been Sarina Wiegman's influence as England's manager that has most impressed White.

Wiegman, who led the Netherlands to European glory five years ago, only joined up with England in 2021 but has made a tremendous impact.

White said Wiegman has been "the key", adding: "I've always felt that the last bit of the puzzle was the manager who's won something.

"Because when you're in the changing room, and you're going through all the tactics, knowing that that coach has won something, I just think that's invaluable."

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."

Five years after Sarina Wiegman's Netherlands team triumphed on home turf at the European Championship, Sarina Wiegman's England begin among the favourites to ... triumph on home turf.

Wiegman's switch to coach the Lionesses has served as a key sub-plot to the tournament, which will put women's football in the spotlight throughout July.

It gets under way when England play Austria at Old Trafford on Wednesday, women taking the spotlight in a year when the men's World Cup unusually takes place in November and December.

Almost 120,000 spectators attended games when England's north west staged Euro 2005; however, the overwhelming majority were either at games featuring England, or at the final between Germany and Norway at Blackburn Rovers' Ewood Park.

That meant some games were sparsely attended, with just 957 spectators seeing France beat Italy in the group stages in Preston. This time, with the tournament boosted from eight to 16 teams since England were last hosts, over 500,000 tickets have been sold, meaning near-empty stadiums should be a thing of the past.

Here, Stats Perform looks at what to expect from the 26-day finals.

German dominance gives way as rest of Europe catches up

Germany used to be the queens of the Women's Euros, but their crown has slipped. After winning six consecutive titles, the Germans fell short at Euro 2017 when they lost to eventual runners-up Denmark in the quarter-finals.

It was all rather end-of-an-era stuff, with the rise of professionalism across Europe's most powerful and forward-thinking footballing nations only likely to be further in evidence this year. Germany, of course, are included among those powerhouses, but they have plenty of company now at the top table.

The Dutch hosts roared to glory at Euro 2017, with Vivianne Miedema scoring twice in a 4-2 victory over the Danes in the final, having demolished Mark Sampson's England 3-0 to reach that stage. Miedema joined Arsenal shortly before that tournament and has become the Women's Super League's record scorer while with the Gunners, the defining player of the blossoming WSL.

This is a tournament that was first officially staged in 1984, with Sweden beating England on penalties in Luton after the teams finished tied on aggregate after home and away ties.

From the second staging in 1987 through to 1997, the tournament was staged every two years, with Norway triumphing in 1987 and 1993. Germany – and West Germany in 1989 – otherwise swept the board and continued to do so when it became a quadrennial championship.

The mighty Germans dismissed England 6-2 in the 2009 final in Helsinki, with a Lionesses team that included Alex Scott, Kelly Smith, Karen Carney, Eni Aluko, Fara Williams and Casey Stoney overwhelmed. Another survivor from that match, veteran midfielder Jill Scott, features in Wiegman's squad this year.

Mighty Spain top list of trophy contenders

Spain are favourites with the bookmakers, and what a team they are, built on classic foundations of players from Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. Their sensational midfielder Alexia Putellas could own this tournament, but the Spanish rise was checked by Barcelona's stunning defeat to Lyon in the Champions League final.

French outfit Lyon have been established titans of the women's game for years, but Barcelona looked to have surpassed them, winning all 30 of their Primera Division games last season in a display of their might. Yet on the biggest club stage of all, Barcelona, with their many Spain stars, were caught cold and slumped to a 3-1 loss.

That should give Spain's Euros rivals some hope, as should the blow that Spain suffered when star forward Jennifer Hermoso was ruled out by a knee injury.

There are plenty of credible challengers, with hosts England among them. Since Wiegman replaced Phil Neville, England have won every match under their new coach, including a 5-1 victory over the Netherlands at Elland Road in June, and they should be able to handle group games against Austria, Norway and Northern Ireland.

Expect the familiar European giants to contend. Women's football is gradually becoming big business, and the richest countries are building the best facilities and funding the game on a professional level, which is a far cry from how the game was a decade ago.

England go Dutch, Dutch go English, Scandinavians on a mission

France have left national team greats Amandine Henry and Eugenie Le Sommer out of their squad, so how they cope without that illustrious duo remains to be seen, while England are without long-standing former captain and defensive mainstay Steph Houghton, who was judged not fit enough by Wiegman after an injury lay-off.

The hosts have Barcelona's new recruit Lucy Bronze, another rock of their team for many years, while the likes of winger Lauren Hemp and strikers Ella Toone and Alessia Russo should announce themselves on the big stage. Not for the first time, England look forward-heavy, with question marks over their midfield strength. New captain Leah Williamson attended the last Euros as a fan, so this is a significant step up.

While England are coached by a Dutchwoman, the Netherlands are bossed by Englishman Mark Parsons, who had a long spell with the Portland Thorns before replacing Wiegman. The reigning champions are contenders again, given the presence of Miedema and the mercurial Lieke Martens, who has traded Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain in the off-season. The thumping by England was a jolt, but don't read too much into that result.

Denmark's Pernille Harder and Norway's Ada Hegerberg are superstar strikers in teams that might cause a surprise, Sweden sit second in the FIFA rankings so rightly fancy their chances, and then you have Germany. The eight-time winners lack the star power of their rivals and must play Denmark and Spain in the group stage, but their squad is packed with experience, so count them out at your peril.

England captain Leah Williamson was full of praise for Lucy Bronze after the Lionesses emphatic 5-1 friendly win against the Netherlands on Friday.

Bronze, Beth Mead, who netted a double, Ella Toone and Lauren Hemp scored to seal an emphatic victory for Sarina Wiegman's side in Leeds.

England had fallen 1-0 behind to a Lieke Martens header, before Bronze put a cross into the box that somehow found its way into the net.

A Netherlands penalty was missed by the Dutch captain, Sherida Spitse, who was making her 200th international appearance, before the hosts put on a show in the second half at Elland Road, bagging four more goals to ease to victory.

"Lucy scored one of them in training yesterday, so I was trying to tell her to take it," a smiling Williamson told Stats Perform after the game. "But at the end of the day she's got forward and we've seen her in that position so many times that when she gets there she'll take it for the team.

"But also the state of the game and the penalty, it's not great, but our reaction after, you can't change that."

Following the win, Netherlands boss Mark Parsons said England are favourites for next month's Women's Euro 2022 tournament, and Williamson was asked if teams are playing against them with some fear.

"A little bit, I think, we're playing well, we're the home nation. It's a brilliant combo to have," she said. 

"Other countries will potentially look at the score lines and think 'Yeah, England are doing really well,' But I think we've just got to stay focused on what we're doing and what our job is.

"We know that even though we won 5-1 tonight, there was many things that we can work on, and get better at. Being clinical is something that we've wanted to improve on and we've obviously done that tonight and in a lot of the games previously with Sarina [Wiegman].

"I mean, if I was on another team, I don't really pay too much attention to score lines, because you don't know the ins and outs of the game. But I'm sure a lot of people will be speaking about us.

"We're very much focused on the one game at a time cliche."

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