Sarina Wigman advised her English lionesses to “forget history” and prove they are world champions. when they play Germany in Sunday’s Euro 2022 final.
Wigman is well aware of the historic rivalry between the two countries, including the last time they met in the final in 2009 when England lost 6-2.
She smiled knowingly when it was pointed out that the Dutch had a similarly competitive relationship with the Germans, but stated that there had been no talk of a rematch during this week’s preparations.
“We approach this game the same way we approach any other game we’ve played. You know that in the final you will be playing against the best opponent you can imagine. And this is Germany.
“Yes, we do analyze our opponents and talk about what their patterns are, what is their strength, what is their weakness, if they are? And then we say what are our strengths? What do we need to do to harm them?
“I don’t know what the perfect game is because whoever is in front of us, we want to beat him. This is the final and we just really want to win the final. We’re talking about their players, not history. It’s about the here and now.”
Wembley will have 90,000 fans – a record for a European international match between two women’s teams – and a live audience that could reach 15 million people.
She added: “Germany, of course, also wants to win the final, but we are not talking about the rivalry between England and Germany. We really want to show how good we are and show our best game.
“There is so much zeal to win in this team. And so much resilience. We want so badly to show again that we are the best, to show our best game.
“That’s what we tried to do all the time. And then, I hope, it will bring us victory. This is basically where we are. Also, we’re talking about the players, not the story. It’s here and now.”
Wigman had already won the Euros with the Netherlands in 2017 and took them to the World Cup final two years later. and proved her elite coaching credentials also taking England to the final after less than a year of work.
It is encouraging that she sees in the English players the winning mentality that has impressed her since she took charge of training last October.
“I think they were already mentally strong,” she explained. “I just think they now believe, they really believe that we can beat anyone if we just do something really good. We have already shown it, we have already proved ourselves that we can [against Spain and Sweden].
“These are not just words. You also need some behavior to help each other. I think the team did it very well.
“They’ve gained some confidence and then you can see the target [to be European champions]. Mentally it’s making the right football decisions in the game and having the right qualities also because it all starts with the quality of the players.”
Asked what this tournament has done for women’s football in this country, Wigman added: “You know when you’re winning, we’ve won the quarter-finals and semi-finals, I think we’ve already made a difference and become an inspiration for the country.” It’s really good, but we want more. You know when you win a big tournament it really matters and I’m really proud of it.