The final battle: How can England and Germany exploit each other weaknesses to lift the Women’s EURO 2022 trophy – tactical preview
England will be facing Germany for the Women’s Euro 2022 final at the glorious Wembley Stadium in an unprecedented event in women’s football. It is true that both teams met each other in a UEFA Euro final before, and that was in Finland where Germany beat the Lionesses 2-6 in 2009. That was the only time both teams faced each other in a Euro final. In fact, Germany have got an advantage over England in terms of the historical record and footballing traditions when it comes to Euros participation and successes.
The team owns the European record since they won eight Euro titles so far, while they were successful in getting six consecutive championships from 1995 to 2013. These are huge numbers that highlight Germany’s great achievements in women’s football especially when it comes to their national team. They will do their best in order to maintain and enhance their records as they will strive to make up for their “disappointing” Euro 2017 performance in which they finished fifth and get back to their winning ways.
On the other side, England are looking to win their first ever Euro trophy especially when everything looks like it is going their way and when they are playing at their home nation. This will give an extra boost to the players who have already proved how much this tournament means to them as they didn’t get confused or stressed with the huge number of supporters present in each England game.
On the contrary, they showed great concentration and belief in their abilities and that mentality allowed them to reach the final and exclude numerous excellent opponents such as Spain and Sweden. It is true that the Lionesses have never lifted this Euro trophy before, but they reached the final twice and failed to win. They do believe that this third time can represent the adequate opportunity to actually do it and consolidate all of their previous convincing performances in this tournament. But to achieve that, they will have to overcome a strong German side.
In this tactical analysis article, we will look at what is expected from both teams in this match and how will they both line up as well as what they need to do from a tactical perspective in order to win the game. This can only be known by studying their tactics through this analysis and identifying their strengths and weaknesses.
A battle of 4-2-3-1/4-3-3
Under Sarina Wiegman, England looked in great shape when playing according to the 4-2-3-1 formation which gave a lot of balance to the whole team whether it be in defence, attack or midfield. Playing with both Georgia Stanway and Keira Walsh gave a lot of stability to the side and not only protected the defensive line but also gave some freedom to Fran Kirby in the final third and to both wingers.
At the same time, both Stanway and Walsh became active players when in possession and are considered by Wiegman as the main initiators of attacks. Walsh is often responsible for the tempo of the game and for switching the ball smoothly and accurately from side to side while Stanway has got more offensive duties as she often advances and provides passes to the right winger, crosses by herself or shoots when she finds a suitable opportunity, such as the one she had against Spain at the 96th minute.
Moreover, Wiegman has got a lot of options for the second half and that squad depth has been one of England’s most useful strengths during this tournament. Subbing players like Manchester United forward Ella Toone, Alessia Russo, Manchester City winger Chloe Kelly and Alex Greenwood on has always made the difference and gave a boost to the whole team especially when in complicated situations such as in the quarter-final against Spain. England will aim at avoiding such a scenario though as it would make things much riskier against a solid team like Germany.
The expected England formation will therefore be like the following: Mary Earps as a goalkeeper, Lucy Bronze, Millie Bright, Leah Williamson, and Rachel Daly in defence. A double pivot composed of Georgia Stanway and Keira Walsh, Bethany Mead and Lauren Hemp as wingers, Chelsea attacker Fran Kirby as an advanced playmaker and Ellen White as a striker.
Wiegman can also make a slight change in her formation by switching to the 4-3-3 formation and making Kirby retreat to being a central midfielder alongside Stanway and Walsh especially if Germany finds a lot of space in that area.
And as you can see in the following formations picture, Wiegman usually switches wingers during the game and it is very probable that it will happen again against Germany in order to try to confuse their defence and try new things during the game itself as both Mead and Hemp learned how to be dangerous from both wings.
On the other side, Martina Voss-Tecklenburg will most likely be relying on the 4-2-3-1 formation as well despite the fact that she used the 4-3-3 formation too in this tournament. In fact, Voss-Tecklenburg can switch between the 4-3-3 and the 4-2-3-1 during the game depending on what she wants from her players in midfield. This concerns mainly Lina Magull who will be positioned either as a central midfielder or as an advanced playmaker just behind the striker.
Germany’s strength lies mainly in their quick and intelligent wingers, their strong midfield and their excellent full-backs as well. The combination of such consistent players makes Germany a very tough team to beat. And having a lot of young players makes them unpredictable, although these players have already shown that they have a lot of personality and talent.
In reality, these players have already proved that they can face any team and still believe in their chances and threaten to win as they have got all that is needed to do so. And let’s not forget that these young players are mixed with other experienced players who also showed that they still have plenty to offer, such as Marina Hegering, Alexandra Popp, Kathrin Hendrich and Svenja Huth.
Germany will most likely rely on the following lineup: The outstanding goalkeeper who made a lot of difference for Germany in this tournament and especially against France, Merle Frohms, with Giulia Gwinn, Kathrin Hendrich, Marina Hegering and Felicitas Rauch in defence, Lena Oberdorf and Sara Däbritz as central midfielders, Lina Magull as an advanced playmaker, Huth and Jule Brand as wingers and Alexandra Popp as the team’s striker.
How can England overcome Germany?
England will have two key missions in this match: penetrating and overcoming Germany’s defensive lines and succeeding in stopping their consistent attacking threat. If the Lionesses succeed in limiting Germany’s attacking danger and closing down their wingers consistently as well as marking Popp tightly, half of the team’s mission will be accomplished. A player like Popp shouldn’t get the chance to receive the ball with ease as she should be marked tightly during set-pieces, knowing that the Wolfsburg striker can create danger inside the box even with one touch as she has the experience needed in this kind of situations.
Therefore, Williamson and Bright’s mission will be to stop Popp and be always ready for Magull’s penetrations. Walsh and Stanway will also be required to mark those coming from the back such as Oberdorf and Däbritz while both Daly and Bronze will have two difficult direct opponents to stop: Huth and Brand. Both players are quick enough to put their opponents in trouble as they have the dribbling skills needed to get past them. That’s why both Bright and Williamson as well as Stanway and Walsh will always need to keep an eye on both flanks and cover for their teammates whenever needed in order to not let these players reach the box easily.
Such as you can see in the above picture showing Spain’s goal action against England, Daly was left alone in front of her direct opponent while Walsh and Bright were far too distant, leaving too much room for Athenea del Castillo not just to get past Daly but also to find time for passing after getting past her. Such things shouldn’t take place again against Germany, otherwise, players like Huth and Brand will get to do the same if not more than what del Castillo did.
Moreover, England will have to be attacking from the start and enter the game with determination to exploit the advantage of being hosts and put Germany in trouble early. This can be done by using quick passes from Walsh and Stanway as well as by exploiting Bronze and Daly’s advancements and Mead/Hemp’s penetrations. Moreover, it is more likely that White will be marked inside the box and this would pave the way for Kirby to create some threat thanks to her accelerations. By this, White can also free herself from marking as she knows how to move without the ball.
In addition to these obvious solutions, all of Stanway, Toone, Kirby, Mead, Hemp and Kelly must create some unexpected threats. This means that someone should repeat what Stanway did in that Spain match when she scored an unexpected goal in the 96th minute with a long-range shot while most followers thought that she would pass the ball to her right. All of these players have got the creativity needed to do so and the shooting abilities required to surprise Germany’s defence, and in such tight games, these actions are always welcome and they often make the difference in the end.
How can Germany stop England?
Germany’s mission looks a bit more complicated since they will be playing against the favourites to win the tournament. But this can also be a double-edged sword since Germany will not be under pressure and they are actually the underdogs. They will have to exploit the psychological ‘freedom’ they will have compared to the England players who will more likely be much more stressed.
Germany will have to opt for defending deep and for relying on counter-attacks in this match if they want to secure a win. Advancing a lot and leaving space at the back for players like Hemp, Mead, White, Kirby and the others will be a huge risk. Therefore, it would be much safer for Germany if they try to contain England’s wingers and striker and aim at countering their opponent whenever possible by relying on both Brand and Huth’s speed and on Popp’s excellent finishing. Serving the latter with through passes and especially with crosses would be excellent especially if Popp knows how to evade Bright and Williamson’s man-marking, such as she did against France on certain occasions.
At the same time, Oberdorf, Däbritz and Magull will have a very tough mission in this match since they will have to keep up with England’s pace and limit Walsh, Williamson and Kirby’s danger by preventing them from touching the ball too often and with ease. And what is similar for both teams is that both of them conceded just one goal throughout the tournament. And that says a lot about their defensive organisation. It will not be easy to score in this match and the game risks going to extra-time if neither team succeeds to oblige their opponents to commit defensive mistakes.
England and Germany both succeeded in having an outstanding tournament so far with some excellent performances as they both excluded some tough teams like Austria, Sweden, France and Spain and therefore they both deserve to be in this final. The psychological aspect will surely be very impactful in this match and the team that defends better and is more clinical in attack will lift the trophy.