Wembley awaits. Tonight, European champions England will return to the place where they lifted the nation’s first major silverware since 1966, with their eyes on another trophy. This time, they take on Brazil, the team that have won four Copa America titles on the trot, in Finalissima.
It may be a relatively new game in the sport, as the best South America has to offer takes on the European champions, but it has already captured the imagination of millions of fans. This is the inaugural women’s game, following on from the success of Argentina v Italy in the men’s game last summer.
Lionel Messi stole the show that day, as Argentina thumped Roberto Mancini’s side 3-0, but his crowning moment would come at the following World Cup. Lionel Scalone and Argentina lifted football’s greatest prize for the third time in their history, completing a hat-trick of trophies in just three years.
- Potter and Chelsea: The drunk wedding in Vegas
That winning feeling, and the habit of lifting silverware is something Wiegman will be desperate to drill into her players, which is why the Finalissima against Brazil is far more important than a World Cup warm-up game. The manager has a few selection headaches to find the answer to, but also knows the confidence that winning at Wembley will bring to her side, just months before they travel to Australia and New Zealand for the World Cup.
Beth Mead is likely to be the biggest absence felt this summer, with her manager saying she needed ‘a miracle’ to be fit in time to make the squad. The Arsenal winger was the star of Euro 2020, but the Lionesses need to find a suitable solution to her absence. Fortunately, as we saw at the Euros from the bench, there are plenty of contenders.
Chloe Kelly and Lauren Hemp continue to impress at club level but there is also fresh blood for the Dutch boss to consider. Lauren James has been superb since joining Chelsea and should be given a start, with the potential for either Kelly or Hemp to play down the middle if needed. However, if that is the route Wiegman decides to go down, it means Alessia Russo will once again start from the bench along with Aston Villa’s Rachel Daly - who should be used up front rather than at left-back this time around
High praise from @AlexGreenwood for "𝐈𝐜𝐨𝐧" Marta, who sadly misses out of the #Finalissima through injury.
@Lionesses | @SelecaoFeminina
Nailing down the perfect front three without Mead is a priority before the summer tournament kicks off and this clash at Wembley should play a big part in Wiegman's decision-making process.
The midfield three looks fairly settled with Georgia Stanway and Kiera Walsh certain to start, and Fran Kirby’s latest injury has opened the door for Ella Toone, although the Manchester United midfielder faces competition from the in-form Jordan Nobbs. The Villa midfielder has 70 caps to her name already and has re-discovered her best form this term, having missed out on the last three major tournaments through injury.
At the back, things look fairly settled for the summer. Alex Greenwood is nailed on at left-back, Leah Williamson and Millie Bright look set to continue in the middle and Lucy Bronze will start as the right-back. However, an injury to Bright saw Arsenal’s Lotte Wubben-Moy called up in her place and she will be desperate to secure herself a spot on the plane. It’s likely to only be as a back-up, but she faces competition from Jess Carter, Maya le Tissier and uncapped West Ham defender Lucy Parker. Any of those four could be given a chance to prove their worth against Brazil, and secure a spot in the World Cup squad with a solid performance.
The majority of Wiegman’s best XI is nailed on, but in attack it really is all up for grabs. More importantly for England, the Finalissima against Brazil is a chance for another confidence-boosting trophy lift in front of a massive crowd. If they can do that, they could well follow in Lionel Messi’s footsteps and complete the hat-trick this summer.