England to play ‘game of our lives’ in WWC final

SYDNEY — England manager Sarina Wiegman and captain Millie Bright have said that the Lionesses are aiming to play the game of their lives when they face Spain in the Women’s World Cup final on Sunday.

England have a fully fit squad for the match, with Lauren James back in the picture after she served her two-match suspension.

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Wiegman is well experienced in these occasions, having guided Netherlands to the 2019 World Cup final, and she knows full well what to expect when England walk out in front of a packed Stadium Australia.

Wiegman said that even though England are miles away from home, they can feel the love and they are aiming to deliver.

“We have felt the support, we have felt the support here, but also from the other side of the world in the UK,” Wiegman said. “That’s something that you dream of, and we just hope that we play our best game ever tomorrow, and everyone who is watching in the stadium, in the UK, who supports us, enjoys it.”

Bright echoed Wiegman’s sentiments. “We have got a game plan that we have to go out and execute,” Bright said. “I think everyone knows how big this is. I think it has been players’ dreams for years. We know how passionate our nation is back home and how much they want us to win. But for us, there is a process. We have a game plan to execute. We need to play the game of our lives.”

England will head into the match with all 23 players available, including James. But Wiegman would not be drawn on whether James will feature from the outset.

“She’s good of course she kept training and it’s really nice to have 23 players available for tomorrow,” Wiegman said.

And when asked whether she still had full faith in James after her red card against Nigeria, Wiegman answered: “I said after that game, it was just a moment and of course she regretted that moment straight away and she apologised, she’s punished for that and we know it should not be part of football.

“She walked over her butt, and she really regretted it. She started training again and we supported her. Sometimes when you’re not that experienced at this level, some fatigue gets in the game and you have a split second where you lose your emotions and that happens. It’s a mistake, a hard-learning lesson but she’s ready to play again.”

England’s class of 2023 are aiming to follow in the footsteps of the men’s 1966 group who won the World Cup. The team are aware of the weight of history, but are hopeful of delivering their second major trophy in 13 months.

“It’s very exciting to play the game tomorrow and of course we are really eager to win it too,” Wiegman said. “It just shows again how football unites and to bring something positive, it brings people together when you get so far in a tournament, people get more and more excited and that’s what you see now in the UK and abroad, here too in Australia.

“When a country is behind a team, that’s very special and it’s so much more than just playing football.”

Bright added: “We’d like to say thank you not only to the fans back home but the fans here as well. We’ve felt really welcomed and really special over here. Every game has been incredible.

“Back home, we’ve seen the videos, we really appreciate everyone setting their alarm clocks and making the effort to support us even though we’re a million miles apart. It’s amazing what football can do in really bringing everyone together, especially our nation. We’re really proud, stick with us for one more game.”

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