There’s never a shortage of world football matches going on at any given time – just look at the variety of offerings on Sportzshala+ – but what makes a tournament like UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 so special is that it has a very Best on sale.
Some of the best goals, best saves and best performances have come from England this summer during the Euros. But there’s always a downside to sports, where with the best you also find some of the worst.
With that in mind, the Sportzshala writers who covered the tournament throughout July are weighing up their best and worst moments of Euro 2022. Here is Tom Hamilton, Sophie Lawson and Mark Ogden with their superlatives of a memorable summer.
Hamilton: Well, that should be Alessia Russo’s heel against Sweden. It was an outrageous skill that drove the two players crazy and ended the match. It said everything about this group of players: they had the courage to try themselves in extreme conditions, but it also spoke about the strength of Russo’s spirit. Just seconds before, she missed a chance she should have scored. But instead of stopping in her tracks, she chased the rebound and then backed the ball past Sweden’s half into the far corner with her heel.
Lawson: First, hello to all the group stage players inside and outside of the box who curled up to snuggle up against the counter – there were a lot of them and they were great, but they were all dwarfed by that damn Russo goal we’ll all pick. Cold-blooded, calm, collected, nimble and just plain dirty… and, of course, enough to deprive Sweden of the opportunity to return to the match, which is very important.
Ogden: Toughie. The obvious answer is Russo’s back-heel goal against Sweden – being there to see it live was like watching Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo do something magical – but in terms of importance, I’m going to to go with Georgia Stanway coming from behind the winner of England’s quarter-final victory over Spain. It was a tense game leading up to penalties, but Stanway seized the moment and won, scoring a goal that was reminiscent of Bobby Charlton’s goals in 1966 or a spectacular shot that once represented David Beckham and Wayne Rooney. Stanway’s goal puts her in that group.
The best player
Hamilton: This midfield duo in the center of England’s midfield was superb. Georgia Stanway played brilliantly with her goal against a Spain worthy of any quarter-final, but I go for Kira Walsh. She was absolutely outstanding for England and was instrumental in their entire transition game as well as acting as a wall in front of the England back four. Her face has already been projected at the National Gallery in London, but her performances here cemented her status as a national superstar.
Lawson: Given that I wrote an entire article about Lena Oberdorf as the best player in the tournament…
The midfielder has been fantastic this summer, reading the game as a man twice her age, taking on all challenges and holding back some of the biggest offensive threats in the Euros. In the tournament, when we looked at the attacks and kept talking about the race for the Golden Boot, the 20-year-old played game after game, and in any case, scorers are so outdated.
Ogden: Leah Williamson has been great at the heart of England’s defence, not only because of her reading of the game and passing ability, but also because of her leadership as captain. Other players had more spectacular tournaments, but Williamson was simply outstanding. Special mention deserves her teammate on defense Millie Bright, who was the perfect opponent for Williamson.
Most Disappointing Player
Hamilton: I expected and hoped for much more from Ada Hegerberg and Norway. She is an incredible talent, but her lack of chances in the tournament was a symptom of the Norwegian national team being so underwhelming. Against Austria, it was her stage, but she misfired, and this is not like her. In the match, Norway had to win to pass the group stage, they did not get a single shot on target until the 89th minute. This hurt Hegerberg and we expect to see her response at next year’s World Championships.
Lawson: Can I say every player in Italy? Going into the tournament I knew that Norway, Spain and the Netherlands had their problems, so I’m not too surprised by their poor performance, but the total collapse of Italy against France and the failure to improve in the next two games caused irritation. There were glimpses of some of the forward talent that was lurking, but match after match we saw 11 who were just staggeringly below their level, disappointment doesn’t even cut it.
Ogden: I’m not going to single out a player for inefficiency, mainly because it was a tournament that showed the best of the women’s game and not any negative elements. But it was a blow to a tournament that Spaniard Alexia Putellas missed with a cruciate ligament injury. It would also be nice to see more of England’s Nikita Parris than a glimpse off the bench.
Hamilton: How different the whole game could have been if Mary Earps hadn’t been able to deflect Sophia Jakobsson’s shot in the first minute of England’s semi-final against Sweden. Later in the match, she made a cash save under her crossbar, but that save was absolutely key. Jacobsson managed to find a spot on the left and hit Erps’s far post. Earps instinctively put out her left leg and managed to deflect it. If that had happened, that match would have gone very differently.
Lawson: It’s worth remembering that we’ve seen some amazing saves from Daphne van Domselaer, Merle Fromes and Nicky Evrard, but I’m going to go a little overboard and say Mary Earps is against Austria. It was a belated attempt by Barbara Dunst, but exactly the type she likes when she can work in space and put curlers on goal, but Earps trying to deprive the 24-year-old of one of the tournament’s goals was of particular importance. . Not only was it a “good” textbook save, but it kept Earps on a clean slate, giving her more confidence in later games, but also ensuring that England held all three points to start the tournament with a win; again, a stronger foundation that the team was able to build on.
Ogden: It was the Mary Earps show. Two decisive saves in the semi-final against Sweden – in the first minute, and then the upset of Stina Blackstenius moments before Alessia Russo made it 3-0. Blackstenius’ save was huge because if it had worked, a 2-1 lead with 20 minutes left in the game would have provided a completely different end to the game and could have encouraged the Swedes to level up.
Hamilton: England’s victory over Spain in the quarter-finals was one of the most nerve-wracking and tense matches I can remember. It was a match in which Spain dominated most of the first 60 minutes but then lost to Ella Thun who equalized and Georgia Stanway who won in overtime. We have witnessed Aitana Bonmati’s total brilliance and Spain’s intricate transfer – if they had the right Jennifer Hermoso, England would be in trouble. But then we also saw a heroic performance by Millie Bright at the center of England’s defense and blockbuster winner Stanway. It was a brilliant match in a great atmosphere and that was all this tournament was about.
Lawson: It’s a terrible question to ask someone who reported half of them in this heat, leaving one big melted clot of memories of the whole month … with the Germany-France semi-final being there in terms of tension and let it be boring here, but strong defensive structures and counterpressing. There’s something to be said for a matchup with so many opponents, yes, yes, most fans would rather have their team seed him early with some outrageous attack, but the stress of a close game with so much at stake makes stick it out in your mind.
Ogden: This should be the finale, right? England-Spain and Germany-France were seismic games that could go either way, but the final had it all. The two best teams that were so well matched and England had to show real grit and determination to win before Ella Thun’s courage and skill gave them the breakthrough. But Germany equalized and went into extra time to add tension, only for Chloe Kelly to seal England’s win and save us/deprive us of penalty shootout drama.
Hamilton: It was difficult to watch the Sweden-Belgium match. It was an attack against a defense and, despite Belgian goalkeeper Niki Evrard’s excellent performance, it was evasive and full of errors. Sweden eventually broke Belgium’s resolve with Linda Sembrant’s goal in the 92nd minute, but it was a match that promised so much more.
Lawson: I personally don’t like beatings, and not only because I root for a club team that gets them a lot, so for me it’s 8-0. You could say a boring 0-0 score is the worst, but these games are usually easy to forget, but Norway’s total capitulation to the point where they didn’t even try to defend was deeply embarrassing and would be a disgrace to women’s football. Worst Defence, Worst Individual Play, Worst In-Game Management, Worst Norwegian Defeat as well as History of the euro. In general, a terrible view for a women’s game.
Ogden: When you look back at England’s performance throughout the tournament, the first game against Austria – a 1-0 win at Old Trafford – was pretty dull compared to what followed. The first games were always a problem due to both teams’ desperation to avoid a bad start and that was evident in this game. But things got better—much better.
The best part of Euro 2022 coverage
Hamilton: Few compare to the spontaneous reaction fans have when their characters do something extraordinary. Watching England and Sweden in Trafalgar Square was a joy and you could…