England legend Fara Williams warns Lionesses that Spain’s Barcelona stars can derail Euro 2022 bid, backs Sarina Wiegman, and thanks Arsenal and Manchester United legends
Fara Williams believes there’s no one better to lead England to glory at this summer’s European Championship than Lionesses head coach Sarina Wiegman.
There are less than 100 days to go until the tournament kicks off on the July 6, with all the matches taking place in the UK.
As host nation, England are considered one of the favourites for the tournament and have already enjoyed success under new head coach Wiegman after the Lionesses lifted the Arnold Clark Cup in February.
The Lionesses are yet to taste defeat under Wiegman since she took over as manager in September and Williams – who is England’s most capped player – has been impressed by what she has seen so far.
Speaking exclusively to talkSPORT, she said: “Pressure comes with hosting a tournament. They have to channel it in the right way. There’s no better person than Sarina [Wiegman] to take these girls through that. She’s done it with the Netherlands and done a fantastic job and won it in 2017 and their fans were incredible.
“I know the players think very highly of her. I know she’s straight to the point and straight down the line with things and she doesn’t let players get carried away with what’s going on.
“I think she’s given great opportunities to lots of players, but what she does is that she’s consistent with her team selection and I think you need that going into a major tournament. She’s really trying to get these girls to be ruthless in their approach to every game and we’ve seen an adaptable England team.
“They [England] have a great chance. Since the 2015 World Cup, we have always gone to tournaments saying we have a genuine chance of winning and we do. In 2017 we came really close and same in 2019 with the World Cup.
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“Look, we’ve got the crowd behind us at home, so I think our chance is as good as anybody’s. But I’m not going to deny the fact there are other great nations in this tournament. We’ve seen with Spain – and with most of the Spanish team made up with Barcelona players – that they’re phenomenal at the moment.
“Germany always turn up in tournaments. France tend to [be a] let down in tournaments but have a fantastic squad. You’ve got the Netherlands that are holders and Sweden with what they did in the Olympics.
“I think this tournament is going to be the most competitive [ever]. Yes, we are one of the favourites, but there are a lot of good teams within the tournament this summer.”
It’s an exciting time for women’s football in the UK at the moment, with more media coverage thanks to a bumper new broadcast deal and increased prize money to be awarded to the winners of the FA Cup from next season.
The title race in the WSL this season couldn’t be much closer either, with Arsenal and Chelsea currently separated by just one point.
One person who has been a vocal supporter of women’s football in the UK has been Arsenal legend Ian Wright and another huge name will be associated with the game in the coming months, with Rio Ferdinand an ambassador for the European Championships this summer.
Having Wright and Ferdinand’s support is something that will be massively beneficial for the long-term future of women’s football, Williams feels.
“These two in particular have been there before the hype of the media,” Williams finished.
“I’m with Rio’s agency and I know how supportive he’s been of me as a female footballer and really tried to push and drive the women’s game before now. So, it’s fantastic.
“It doesn’t matter whether you’re male or female; it’s football. Equally, we should both be able to support and encourage both sides of the game and talk about it in the same way that they do with the men’s.
“It’s fantastic that they want to be on board with it and they want to push it and drive it and they are big names. Two superstars in the men’s game talking about the women’s game is fantastic.”
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