Women’s Euro Final A ‘Fairytale Fixture’ At Sold-Out Wembley
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The women's European Championship final between England and Germany is a "fairytale fixture" given the history between the teams, England captain Leah Williamson said on Saturday.
Hosts England and eight-time champion Germany will play at a sold-out Wembley stadium on Sunday, meeting for the second time in the Euro final after the Germans won 6-2 in 2009.
The men's teams also met at Wembley in the 1966 World Cup final, which England won after scoring a goal that was deemed to have crossed the line but is still disputed by many Germans.
"I think it's a good narrative for you guys," Williamson told reporters.
"It's a fairytale fixture with the history behind it.
"You would never expect to get to a final without playing the best team in the tournament and the journey that both of us have been on, you've got the two teams that have had the best tournaments."
The ultimate ...
— UEFA Women's EURO 2022 (@WEURO2022) July 30, 2022
Women's Euro Final Preview
Around 90,000 fans are expected to attend Sunday's final, which would mark a new all-time attendance record for a Euro final tournament match.
The current attendance record for a Euros game — men's or women's — was set at the 1964 men's final between Spain and the Soviet Union, which was played in front of 79,115 fans at the Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid.
Last year's men's Euro final between England and Italy at Wembley was attended by a reduced-capacity of 67,000 spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I think this has felt unachievable for a very long time for people that have come before me," Williamson added.
"That's a nice reflection moment tomorrow that there will be so many people filling the stadium with an interest in women's football, that have the opportunity to watch it because it has been made available. Not so long ago that was not the case."
Regardless of the result, Williamson hoped that the growing interest from fans would start a fresh beginning for the women's game.
"What we have seen in the tournament already is that this has not been just a change for women's football, but society in general, how we are being looked upon," she said.
"Tomorrow is not the end of the journey, but the start of one, ... when we look back on this tournament as a whole, we have really started something."
Just match remains!
— UEFA Women's EURO 2022 (@WEURO2022) July 29, 2022
The Lionesses are looking to win the tournament for the first time, having reached the final twice, in 2009 and 1984.
Asked if they can go all the way and make up for the men's team's Euro final defeat by Italy in 2021, coach Sarina Wiegman said: "I don't think we should compare men and women, it's just one England.
"I don't think there is any difference."
Wiegman is fully aware of the magnitude of the rivalry between England and Germany, but added that despite the pressure, there was a sense of calm within her squad.
The Dutchwoman expects a "physical" game from the Germans.
"I think at some point it might be a little physical. Germany can play very direct, physical and straightforward. That's what we expect," Wiegman added.
"We did see some things that we might want to exploit but we'll see that tomorrow."
(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)