Euro 2022: How Sarina Wiegman’s super substitutes helped England to European glory

England at Euro 2022

It’s the 110th minute in a European Championship final between England and Germany at Wembley. There’s a record-breaking crowd in the stadium. The scores are level. 

England’s winger, Chloe Kelly, has won a corner and hyped up the crowd to raise the roof. Lauren Hemp takes the corner and Chloe Kelly scores from it to give the Lionesses the lead. 

She runs away in celebration, ripping her shirt off and spinning it perfectly to display her name above her. The stadium erupts.

This is what dreams are made of. Dreams do come true.

Sarina Wiegman wrote history, becoming the first manager to win the European Championship with two different countries, and back-to-back at that. 

She seems to have a magic touch in the competition, having not lost a single game at the Euros so far with 12 wins out of 12.

Wiegman stuck to the same starting line-up throughout the tournament, retaining the consistency in that aspect from her previous job. 

Under her influence, England regularly found solutions to in-game problems. There was a certain synergy and balance between the starting lineup and the squad that is vital in knockout tournaments. 

Wiegman was rewarded for that trust by multiple match-defining performances in various positions. She didn’t disturb that balance, but her proactive subs provided England with what was needed in the exact moment it was necessary.

Here are the major talking points from an epic final. 

England manager Sarina Wiegman

England’s super substitutes

Wiegman used a fixed set of substitutions throughout the tournament. The trio of Alessia Russo, Ella Toone and Chloe Kelly were the go-to changes for the manager, and all of them were vital in England’s success at the tournament.

Russo was nearly always directly involved in goals after coming on as a substitute, scoring that outrageous backheel against Sweden in the semi-final. Her physical and linkup play posed all sorts of problems for the opposition. 

Toone came up trumps against Spain, combining with her Manchester United teammate, Russo, to score the equaliser. She then scored the opening goal in the final from an incredible finish. 

The duo swung the momentum in the Lionesses’ favour multiple times throughout the tournament. They helped England maintain the pressure through their fresh legs, and their skillset added a different kind of threat to the attack.

Chloe Kelly, a reserved figure off the pitch, was explosive every time she took to the field. She has now etched herself in the folklore of English football. This was her “Bobby Zamora” moment, and her celebration will go down as one of the most iconic in football history. 

Having missed out on most of last season due to an ACL injury, this was the perfect conclusion for Kelly.

The other substitutes, Alex Greenwood and Jill Scott, helped England calm things down in nervy moments. 

Greenwood’s left-footed ability helped deal with the opposition’s overload on the right, and her passing helped find targets in behind. Scott brought her experience to help the team in nervous moments.

England defender Alex Greenwood

Wonder Walsh

Keira Walsh played a symphony on Sunday. A symphony that is gonna reverberate for years on English soil. 

The 25-year-old was phenomenal in dealing with the German press. Her vision and execution was top notch. Her ability to get her head up and just spray passes in behind was amazing to watch.

Voted as the player of the match, Walsh is worthy of every praise coming her way and more. 

She was consistent throughout the tournament, orchestrating play from deep. Her passing was elegant and crisp over short and long ranges, finding the intended target more often than not. 

England's Keira Walsh

Walsh knew how to play out of opposition pressure and was a calm figure in doing so. 

Germany, like most teams, tried to mark her out of the game, but it’s easier said than done thanks to Walsh’s movements without the ball. She was regularly showing up for the ball in pockets of spaces, and her ability to fake passes with her body shape is excellent.

Walsh played what was arguably the pass of the tournament, if there ever was one. In transition, she got her head up and played a perfectly weighted pass for Toone to run in behind. 

She was England’s get out of press card, and arguably the most underrated in that lineup.

Germany will be back

Germany deserves recognition as well. They were unlucky with COVID-19 and injuries, losing Klara Bühl and Alexandra Popp in the final, and Dzenifer Marozsan and Melanie Leupolz before the tournament. 

In spite of this, their performances throughout the tournament made a statement. They played a brand of heavy metal football that opponents found hard to deal with. The transition is happening and the promise of the next generation is blinding.

The record eight-time European Championship winners have a generation of extremely talented youngsters brewing up in their ranks. 

Germany's Lena Oberdorf

Lena Oberdorf was voted the best young player of the tournament, following in the footsteps of Giulia Gwinn, who won the same accolade at the World Cup in 2019. 

Oberdorf allowed Germany to play their aggressive brand of football by providing the defensive security necessary. Her ground coverage enabled others to push forwards into the final third. Her game sense and risk assessment meant most opposition attacks broke down at her feet.

Apart from her, Bühl, Jule Brand, Lena Lattwein, Sophia Kleinherne, Nicole Anyomi, Selina Cerci and Sjoke Nusken are just few of the names ready to take over the senior side in the near future. This is very much a new face Germany and they will forever be one of the contenders.

Germany's Jule Brand

Football has come home

Football has finally come home, but the people that have brought it home are the same ones who were barred from playing the very sport for 50 years. 

These women are the face of the country now, the harbinger of joy and pride, the history-makers, record-breakers. These women are legends. 

SHOP OUR LEAH WILLIAMSON T-SHIRT TO CELEBRATE ENGLAND’S EURO 2022 WIN

This is their legacy, and as Leah Williamson rightly said, this isn’t the end, it’s a start. This high needs to stretch into the domestic season and beyond.

Women’s football was here before, and it’s here to stay forever.

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Mary Earps

We’ll start off with England’s heroic goalkeeper in the final…

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