England beat World Champions USA in Wembley warm-up for World Cup 2023
ENGLAND 2 (Hemp 10, Stanway 33 pen)
USA 1 (Smith 28)
WEMBLEY was packed again as England’s Lionesses returned for the first time since becoming European Champions by beating World Champions USA in front of a crowd of 76,893.
Sarina Wiegman’s team returned after their Women’s Euro 2022 final victory over Germany in July, and it took them only 10 minutes to break the deadlock, when Arsenal’s Beth Mead whipped in a cross for Lauren Hemp to tap home.
However, it wasn’t long until the World Champions hit back with a clinical finish from Sophia Smith after Georgia Stanway lost the ball in midfield. The Winner came through a penalty for England, which Stanway comfortably slotted home.
England used to fear playing the number one ranked team in the world, particularly haunted by their disappointing defeat in the semi-final of the World Cup in 2019. However, England have been transformed by Sarina Wiegman since the Dutch coach took over from Phil Neville. They are now unbeaten in 23 games and looked comfortable throughout, always looking to build up from the back.
Many players have thrived under Wiegman, the biggest success being Mead. After picking up the top goal scorer trophy at the Euros, she is now England’s Player of the Year. Mead suits the style of play demanded by Wiegman, who has given her a licence to go forward. Mead stated after the game: “You’ve seen how far we have grown and the character we’ve shown. We really believe in each other as individuals, as a collective, as a team.”
The Lionesses are now looking ahead to the World Cup in 2023 and are among the favourites to win the competition. Wiegman has a good balance of youth and experienced players in her squad. The USA seem to be going under the same transition with a lot of new players coming into the squad. USA captain Becky Sauerbrunn said: “Vlatko has brought in a lot of new players, we are just layering in that veteran experience with the new experience”.
One of those players is Trinity Rodman, who had a ‘goal’ ruled out after VAR showed it was offside. Rodman was disappointed with the decision but she was thrilled to play at a packed Wembley, stating: “Playing a team like England in a friendly is insane and having that many fans was awesome”.
There are now 8 months until the World Cup and many teams are getting used to new coaches and systems. However, England seems to have timed their transition perfectly from Neville to Wiegman. The team have already now won a major competition under new management and also had to overcome the pressure of hosting a home tournament.