England are off to a dream start at Euro 2022, having reached the quarter-finals and set a new tournament record with their astonishing 8-0 win over Norway last week.
As hosts of the competition, all eyes are on the Lionesses and so far, they have done nothing but impress.
Former England international Lianne Sanderson has been wowed by the hosts and picked out a couple of standout players who have really set the benchmark heading into the knockout stages.
The Lionesses made history after smashing eight goals past the Norwegians last Monday. The thrilling fixture marked the highest scoreline ever seen in a men’s or women’s European Championship match.
Beth Mead, who contributed a hat-trick to the handsome scoreline, was one of the first to be praised by Sanderson. However, the ex-midfielder believes Norway looked a shell of their usual selves against the hosts.
“This is Norway! One of the best teams in the world,” she told bettingexpert. “And they just completely capitulated and England just took it. I was in the commentary and I’m very rarely left speechless and I was just like, ‘wow’.”
While Sanderson was initially confident that Norway would bounce back from the defeat, they were knocked out of Euro 2022 after losing 1-0 to Austria in their final group stage match.
Standout England stars
Sanderson also lauded the performances of England’s Keira Walsh and Georgia Stanway, who previously played together at club level with Manchester City.
She described the duo as “absolutely incredible” but particularly waxed lyrical about Walsh and her important role as a defensive midfielder.
“She [Walsh] is absolutely brilliant. She really is and I can’t speak highly enough of her. She never gives the ball away. I call her the ‘quarterback of the team’.”
Sanderson admitted she would have given her Player of the Match for her performances against Austria and Norway in the first two fixtures.
“It’s difficult because how do you give a player who hasn’t got a goal or an assist, the Player of the Match?” she said.
“But, if you are looking at it from a football perspective, you watch the game properly [she is] similar to N’Golo Kante. He is unbelievable, she is unbelievable. She really is brilliant.”
The 34-year-old likened Walsh to the Chelsea men’s superstar, who is known for his defensive abilities in the middle of the park. He is widely regarded as one of the best midfielders in the world.
Walsh plays a similar role, protecting the backline for both club and country but also boasts a keen eye for chance creation and dangerous long balls.
Having progressed into the quarter-finals, England will face Spain in the first knockout match of the tournament. The Lionesses set a new record for the most goals scored in any European group stage, with an astonishing 14.
This smashed Germany Women’s previous record of 11 at Euro 2001. The highest number of goals scored in a men’s tournament is held by France and the Netherlands, set in 1984 and 2008 respectively.
England’s clash against Spain will get underway at 20.00 BST on Wednesday, July 20th.
Watch Euro 2022 at your local Stonegate pub with We Love Sport