A win 43 years in the making. England women saw off rivals France to reach the semi-finals of the European Championships, a first win over ‘Les Bleus’ in 43 years. A fourth win out of four has put the Lionesses as favourites to win the tournament, with hosts Holland next in their way. Arsenal’s Jodie Taylor netted a fifth in three games, leaving her perched on top of the scoring charts and one away from equalling the tournament record.
Mark Sampson is raising the bar for women’s football yet again for England as 3.3 million tuned into Channel 4’s coverage to be inspired by a heroic performance. From Steph Houghton at the back, Lucy Bronze’s marauding runs from the wing and the goal machine Jodie Taylor up front, there is hope of a first major title.
It’s been a glorious summer for the national-set up with the men’s U20 side becoming World champions and U19’s European champions, the women can put the icing on the cake and banish the demons of last year.
We’ve longed for national sides to be proud of with the consistent disappointments form the senior men’s team, now the women are out to better their 2015 World Cup feat. Beating Germany to win the third-place play-off to finish as the best European side, if they can be Europe’s best once again, they’ll be champions.
It was an incredible run in 2015, from Fran Kirby’s winner against Mexico to back-to-back knockout goals from Lucy Bronze. It was heart-breaking when Laura Basset’s header flew into her own net, but pride was restored with Fara Williams’ penalty over Germany. They beat Holland in their last semi-final back in 2009 before defeat to Germany in their best finish at a Euros.
But, the winners of the last six Euros have been knocked out by Denmark, leaving Sampson’s side as the highest rank nation in the tournament. The passion and determination they showed to overcome opposition they’ve had such a poor record against in recent years, was incredible. The signs are there that this group intends not to rest on their laurels, they intend to be the best.
If Taylor keeps firing, they will win. If they can fill the void of Jill Scott against the hosts, they will win. If they play with the same spirit, ambition and as a unit, they will win.
England Lionesses face Holland on Thursday evening for a place in the final.
(Featured Image: independent.co.uk)