Euro 2022 Overview — The Final — A Tale As Old As Time

I think you and I are destined to do this forever…

As shadows and memories decorated Wembley stadium, England and Germany met once more to determine the best in the land. Sixteen teams had been whittled down to just these two, and it seems it was written in the stars from the beginning.
An underestimated German side who very quickly reminded everyone why you do not underestimate a German side, and the hosts, the Lionesses eager to open that trophy cabinet on home soil just as the time was right. But even as the home side, the numbers seemed against them:-

  • Germany had won eight titles (out of twelve), and had never lost in a final.
  • England had only beaten Germany twice.
  • The only side to have scored against Germany thus far in the competition, is Germany.

The roar of the crowd was behind England, but Germany are no strangers to it either.

Let the game of games begin.

The game began energetically. England, learning from their previous sluggish start against Sweden, came out of the blocks like lightning. And Germany stood firm.
England stuck to their game plan and built their own attacks. And Germany stood firm.
England hassled and harried the German defence. And Germany stood firm.
As ultra-composed as ever, Germany were secure in their ideals, and soon, frustration began to set in, tempers bubbled under the surface. None of this aided by a brilliant referee having a terrible game, not calling obvious fouls early doors only to then gain a guilty conscience(?) and blow for everything under the sun, in some instances before the offending act had been committed, if one was committed at all. This plagued the game, but often players will have to play around an official having an off-day, and this was no different.
The first-half were the teams settling into the final, getting to grips with each other — two generations vastly different to those prior, the ones who had marched out at Euro 2017, two generations primed for glory. This was shaping each other up, leaving a mark, all to finalise the ultimate gameplan to see the other off in the second half.

Cracks were starting to show, but not for long. Opportunities had to be taken inch-perfectly to capitalise on them, and just after the hour mark, an inch-perfect ball from Keira Walsh played in Ella Toone, marauding through the German defence, who picked up possession and deftly dinked the onrushing Frohms. Pandemonium ensues. Deafening roars from the home support as celebrations spring forth from the very heart of those responsible for sparking them. The Germans pick themselves up and question the leak — they knew what England were capable of, but now they’ve seen it, they’ve been the victim of it. One mistake, one untracked player, and a ninth title goes up in smoke.
Therefore, the best defence must be applied. Offence. A tasty affair begins to bear its teeth as that previously bubbling temper is now boiling. Passions are rampant as everyone allows it to burst from them even if some only let it out for a split second. This game is being played with thunder behind the eyes. So Germany press, they isolate the England attack, with substitutes Toone and Russo near-enough frozen out of the game. Instead, it’s Germany’s fresh legs that strike the next power chord; Sydney Lohmann and Nicole Anyomi force the play out for Tabea Waßmuth, and as she draws Leah Williamson out, her cross finds a freshly unmarked Lina Magull, who gracefully opens up her left foot and deposits over Mary Earps into the roof of England’s net.
The final quarter of an hour is played nervily, but Germany are in the ascendancy, and England are lucky to make it to extra-time.

Extra-time is for brave people. It’s the California Reaper of football match segments. There’s that little reprieve when it starts as you sit with your mouth open trying to let all the air hit your searing tongue, ‘cos injury time at the end of the ninety is when you first pop it in yer gob and feel the spikes of its weaponry take hold.
The first-half maybe isn’t so bad, you can put up with it, especially if there’s no goals. But once that second lot of fifteen begins, the final lot of fifteen, that’s when shit gets scary. Every second counts down, and as they chalk themselves off, a goal means more and more. It’s so much more likely to be the winner.
When there were ten of those minutes left, another substitute, Chloe Kelly, scores her first goal for England, wheels away, whips her top off and swings it round her head in a move that absolutely everyone who has ever even seen a football can relate to. England lead once more.
But here’s the thing about those minutes. Sure, they tick down and goals mean more, but that’s from an even field, from a draw. If one side is in the lead, a goal can mean a title snatched away when your fingers were reaching for it, not just a penalty shoot-out that’s no longer going to happen.
Germany had to continue on, they had continue that offence that had seen Magull equalise in normal time, but all they could get on goal were attempts directly into the gloves of Mary Earps. They fired crosses in, fed passes through, cracked shots, launched headers, but Millie Bright et al said ‘no, thank you’. England kept the ball in the corner until the very death, when Germany won a free-kick just inside their own half. Everyone bar Frohms stocked the England box as the ball came in, the cry was ‘AWAY’ and away it went, the English defence once again standing tall as if it was what they were put on this earth to do. And then, time was up. The whistle blew.

England 2–1 Germany

England were the champions of Europe.

WOMAN OF THE MATCH: Keira Walsh — England. Remained calm, raised the alarm, and started the attacks. Just everywhere and all at the right time.

Maybe it really was written in the stars. Maybe this was always meant to happen. All of the countries repped here and all of the countries in qualifying, and yeah, probably all of the countries around the world have fought for this in this sport. Seeing Jill Scott receive a gold medal and lifting that trophy sixteen years after her England career began, thirteen years after suffering heartbreak against Germany in the Euro ’09 final; that was absolutely magical. It was a story written almost to completion that opened itself up for hopeful spin-offs in a world better than how she found it.

England were the superior team, as the scoreline attests, but Germany played the part today. In that stadium, they were the villains, but to everyone, including those in the stadium, they were heroes. Danke, Deutschland — you’re a story sweetener and so much more.

The English FA’s last major trophy came in 1966, when, as a few of you may know, England beat Germany at Wembley.
When that was won, the professional women’s game in England would not be unbanned for another four years. So yeah, fuckin’ soak it up, fuckin’ live it up, and fuckin’ bask in it for as long as y’all fuckin’ want.

And what a tournament to bask in. I was gonna do a team of the tournament, but it would just be the England team; they all played a role and they did it beautifully. I mean, Wiegman didn’t change the starting line-up once, which is a first, but if it ain’t broke, ya know? That’s why I couldn’t understand Ian Wright and Alex Scott even discussing the idea of swapping out Ellen White for Alessia Russo to start in the final. Why fuck with what’s got ya to the dance?
Instead of a team of the tournament, I’ll just say everybody played their part pretty feckin’ well in terms of delivering a tournament I’m never gonna forget for the overall experience. It was a ballache to get to, but the football itself was feckin’ aces.

I’m still coming down from that final.

So cheers to Austria, England, Northern Ireland, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Iceland, and Italy for getting us there. In the end, it didn’t have everything. But it had everything you’d want.

England had the first word when Beth Mead just about toed the opening goal on the 6th, and they would have the last word when Chloe Kelly swiped the last.
And at long last, it’s come home.

Keep it streets ahead,

C.L.R.

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