·26 September 2023
·26 September 2023
he Dutch city of Utrecht holds a special place in Sarina Wiegman’s heart. It was here, six years ago, that Holland began their march towards winning Euro 2017 under Wiegman by beating Norway.
She remembers Stadion Galgenwaard being a “sea of orange”, and during her press conference yesterday she kept glancing out the window to catch a glimpse of the stands. The fond memories will be put to one side tonight, though, as Wiegman returns to her native Holland for the first time since being appointed England head coach in 2020.
The match is part of the inaugural Women’s Nations League, with England having kicked off their campaign by beating Scotland on Friday.
Wiegman is determined to win the competition, as there is the extra incentive that doing so would secure Team GB a spot at next year’s Olympic Games. The Games fall in the middle of this next two-year cycle, which will culminate with the Lionesses trying to defend their European crown in Switzerland.
It will be a case of evolution and not revolution with the squad, as Wiegman sticks by the players who led England to the World Cup Final last month. Of those players, only Beth England and Keira Walsh were left out of the squad for these matches against Scotland and Holland, and that was due to injury.
Tonight’s team will have a familiar feel, with Wiegman expected to stick with the back-three that served her so well in Australia. Alessia Russo is also available after being rested for the win over Scotland and should get the chance to develop her partnership up front with Lauren Hemp.
England’s squad is young enough that Wiegman can stick with the core of it through to Euro 2025, but what happens beyond that is uncertain. Wiegman’s contract expires then, though the FA are planning talks to extend it.
Given her success, the 53-year-old can have her pick of any job in the women’s game, but she has also been linked with a move into men’s football.
Netherlands men’s team, and her opposite number tonight sees no reason why not.
Andries Jonker hailed her as “an outstanding coach”, adding: “From the content of the job, she can do it.”