The four nations in the semi-final stage produced some scintillating football but at last two of the very best in the tournament reached the showpiece final at Wembley on Sunday. England won their tie against Sweden handsomely beating them 4-0 while Germany popped up with the winner in a 2-1 end-to-end fight with France. Seven goals were scored in the semifinals’ two matches, equaling the tally of the last eight stages. The Germans reached the final of the tournament for a record ninth time facing the hosts at Wembley who are entering the showpiece of a major competition first time since 2009.
The queens of the tournament so far continued their dominance in the last four with three players from England retaining their places for the combined eleven of the semifinals. The highest number of representation is from the Lionesses with seven due to their emphatic performance over Sweden followed by Germany with three. Eliminated side France have Wendie Renard to show for in their defense on the back of a tough loss but a strong fight against Die Nationalelf.
Here is the team filled with players that starred in the semifinals:
Goalkeeper: Mary Earps (England)
Lionesses’s number one Mary Earps and Germany’s Merle Frohms had a battle of keeping the clean sheet record intact throughout the tournament and although both have been breached so far, these two have stood out more than the other number ones for their nation. Frohms conceded an unfortunate own goal from her deflection against France despite making some top saves to see out her side so Earps takes the goalkeeper spot not only for the clean sheet alone in the 4-0 triumph but for thwarting Sweden’s effort whenever called into action. The Manchester United shot-stopper made 3 saves out of the 1.28 shots she faced on target with the flying save in the second half from Sweden’s Stina Blackstenius header a notable one.
Defenders: Lucy Bronze (England), Leah Williamson (England), Wendie Renard (France), Rachel Daly (England)
England’s Right-back Lucy Bronze had the best game of the tournament, first setting up Beth Mead for the opener with a dangerous cross splitting Sweden’s defense before putting the Lionesses on the driving seat by heading in from a corner and doubling the lead. Defensively, she won all of her tackles and made four recoveries. Her constant availability on the right-flank helped England stretch the rugged defense of their opposition eventually scoring two more goals on their way to the final.
Leah Williamson’s ability to break Sweden’s high press with her long-range passing gave the Lionesses the license to move bodies forward in attack. As a case, she completed the most passes in the game alongside being a rock in the defense by winning all of her duels. Williamson was important to help England claim the clean sheet by clearing Fridolina Rolfo’s header off the line late into the game. Rachel Daly improved from her showing in the quarterfinals to combine well with Lauren Hemp on England’s left side.
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Midfielders: Fran Kirby (England), Lena Oberdorf (Germany), Lauren Hemp (England)
Chelsea’s Fran Kirby got her second goal of the tournament with a delightful chip over keeper Linhadl taking her goal contributions numbers to five. She is having a special tournament after a long lay-off due to an injury. Teammate Keira Walsh was crucial to hold the midfield as always for England but Lena Oberdorf was almost all over the pitch for Germany in their win over France. Inclined to her role, the 20-year-old did the dirty work in halting the French attack, winning all of her tackles committed and played the holding midfield role at its best.
Forwards: Beth Mead (England), Alexandra Popp (Germany), Svenja Huth (Germany)
The forward line should include two of the best in business this tournament and that’s what happened. If anyone thought the substitution of Beth Mead midway in the game against Spain will dampen her confidence in the deciding games of the tournament, they were proven wrong. Mead continued her hot streak of form in finding the back of the net by doing it again for the opener against Sweden with a well-taken strike on her left from Lucy Bronze’s cross. The Arsenal winger then returned the favor from a corner in the second half finding Bronze unmarked in the far post to score. Her day got even better by picking up another assist, sliding in the pass for Kirby’s audacious goal. Sweden had no clue to stop the ruthless Mead who has now equaled the most number of goals scored by a player in a single European Championship with six strikes sharing the platform with legendary Inka Grings of Germany. No other English player has scored more than Mead in Euro history now overtaking the record of Jodie Taylor who score five for the Lionesses in the last edition in 2017.
If Mead was wonderful, her golden-boot challenger, Alexandra Popp was sensational for her two goals that propelled Germany to their ninth Euro final in the 2-1 semi-final win. She matched and created some magnificent records with her unforgettable performance in the game. The Wolfsburg striker became the first woman to score in each game (5) of a single European tournament aside from touching the top scorer record with six alongside Grings and Mead. Popp overtook compatriot Heidi Mohr in the process who scored in four games across three competitions. Her opener also marked Germany’s 100th goal in the Euros history, no other nations have reached that amount in the tournament. She got ahead of France’s right-back Perisset to thump in her first and then timed her return beautifully to make the winning header. It has been a fabulous season for the 31-year-old, yet a great athlete, who is exceeding all expectations after injuries restricted her participation in the last two editions of the Euros.
Popp will be thanking her clubmate Svenja Huth for the wonderful service she produced for the goals. The first one was a delightful cross from the right that allowed Popp to rush inside the box, and beat the marker for a thumping finish. Huth once again caused chaos inside the box after her cutback had a series of blocks before it came to her to reload with Popp in hand to meet her cross for the second time in the game. The right winger, who always switched sides with the talented Julia Brand, was always active to combine for the attack while creating the most number of chances in the game.