How England executed plan against Euros favorites Spain

Georgia Stanway against Spain
England’s Georgia Stanway started in midfield against Spain

England’s game plan was clear as they went toe to toe at Carrow Road with one of the favorites for the European Championship in their biggest test so far under manager Sarina Wiegman – so how did they do it?

Wiegman said after the 0-0 draw with Spain that England executed their “plan” and were able to exploit a side ranked ninth in the world.

Spain, considered by many to be the team to beat at the Euros this summer, had 66% of the possession in the Arnold Clark Cup game, but England created chances and hit the woodwork in the second half.

“Although we sometimes didn’t have the ball, it didn’t harm us. We did have some control where we wanted to,” said Wiegman.

“Of course, this is such a high-level game that sometimes it got a little dangerous – they got chances – but so did we. I think we got a little more than they got and I’m happy with that.”

Wiegman made nine changes to the side from Thursday’s draw with Canadaintroducing a midfield trio of Georgia Stanway, Jill Scott and Jordan Nobbs, whose task was to press Spain when they had the ball.

They were particularly effective in the first half as Scott won the ball in the Spaniards’ box on one occasion, while Nobbs linked up well with Arsenal team-mate Beth Mead after overturning possession numerous times.

The energetic midfield, combined with Ellen White’s front-foot pressing and England’s organization in defence, meant they stifled Spain’s creativity for large parts.

It wasn’t really until later in the second half that Spain started to find spaces deeper in, but England remained resolute – Lucy Bronze and Jess Carter putting in blocks to keep the clean sheet intact.

Wiegman made changes too but England’s game plan did not budge as Lauren Hemp set up White after stealing the ball off Aitana Bonmati, while a new pairing of Leah Williamson and Keira Walsh took over duties in midfield.

“England defended resolutely. They were organized and they were hard to beat,” former England goalkeeper Siobhan Chamberlain told BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra.

“We knew Spain would have a lot of possession and they did, but we saw what we’ve come to expect from them. They struggle to break teams down and score the goals to take them over the line.

“For England, it is a real positive. They made lots of changes and players got opportunities.”

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This was a game which tested England in ways they had not yet been under Wiegman.

Prior to facing Canada in their opening match of the Arnold Clark Cup tournament, England had not faced opposition ranked inside the world’s top 10 under Wiegman and were resounding favorites in all six of their victorious World Cup qualifying matches.

England had also scored 53 goals without reply before Thursday’s 1-1 draw and had dominated possession in all of their matches, so the Lionesses are now also getting to grips with high-quality opponents.

“What I like most was that we had a plan of how we wanted to play against Spain – because they have a different style to Canada – and how we did that as a team,” said Wiegman,

“That made me the most happy about this. We really stuck to the plan. We as a technical staff can think out plans but if the players don’t believe in it, it’s not going to work.

“We had a plan, we talked with players and we all believed in it. That’s how our approach went. We showed that this plan worked. We all were on the same page.”

England open the home Euros at Old Trafford on 6 July and Wiegman hopes they can continue to develop and show consistency in the next five months.

“We need these games to develop and to exploit at the highest level and that’s what we did [on Sunday],” she added.

“It was very good to see how we were as a team and how we disturbed this style of play. I think this was more mature than against Canada and that’s development, that’s nice.”

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