England: Should Sarina Wiegman have rotated the Lionesses for Latvia match? | OneFootball
England: Should Sarina Wiegman have rotated the Lionesses for Latvia match?
The Lionesses achieved a record scoreline in their World Cup qualifying match against Latvia last night, thrashing the visitors an astonishing 20-0.
Three England players scored hat-tricks – Ellen White, Alessia Russo and Beth Mead – while Lauren Hemp hit the back of the net an incredible four times.
White’s hat-trick saw her smash the England Women all-time goalscoring record. She is now on 48 international goals, surpassing Kelly Smith’s previous record of 46 goals.
Jess Carter, Ella Toone, Georgia Stanway, Bethany England, Jill Scott and Jordan Nobbs completed the rout at the Keepmoat Stadium in Doncaster.
It was an impressive night for the Lionesses all round, and they now top their World Cup qualifying group with six wins from six matches. They have scored an incredible 53 goals during their campaign, conceding zero.
A high scoreline was to be expected against a team 94 places below England in the world rankings, however, especially as Sarina Wiegman decided to field a full-strength team.
Would it have been more beneficial to rotate the squad and give younger players their first taste of international duty? GiveMeSport Women assesses the situation.
Full-strength team against weak opposition
Stars players Lucy Bronze, Steph Houghton, Ellie Roebuck and Leah Williamson may have been missing from the England squad through injury, but Wiegman’s starting 11 against Latvia was the strongest possible line-up.
In fact, it would not be a surprise to see a similar starting 11 selected for England’s opening match of Euro 2022 against Austria.
It made sense to start Ellen White, who has been chasing down Kelly Smith’s international goalscoring record with dogged determination. But did the team really have to be at full strength?
Wiegman may want to give her preferred players time to gel together, with now only seven months to go until Euro 2022.
It must be remembered that Wiegman only became manager of the Lionesses in September – she has very little turnaround time to impress her playing style and philosophy on her squad members.
If she needs to use matches against weaker opposition such as Latvia to do this, then so be it.
Should there be squad rotation?
On the other hand, time is now running out for players to be given an opportunity to show why they should be included in the squad for Euro 2022.
It is unlikely Wiegman will want to experiment much next year, especially in the friendly international tournament against Canada, Germany and Spain.
The tournament will be England’s best chance to test themselves before Euro 2022, and Wiegman will want her best players on the pitch.
Subsequently, this international break was the chance to introduce younger players to the squad, and give them their first taste of international football.
For example, emerging talent Ebony Salmon already has one cap for the Lionesses, but this could have been the perfect time for her to earn a couple more and show what she's capable of.
Similarly, Wiegman could have made better use of the players within her selected squad. She could have used the opportunity to rotate her goalkeeper, playing Hannah Hampton or Sandy MacIver instead of Mary Earps.
Indeed, most of the starting 11 had already played numerous times under the Dutch manager, so it may have been beneficial to give players such as Alessia Russo, Jess Carter, Katie Zelem and Niamh Charles starting berths.
Three of these four players did come onto the pitch eventually, scoring four goals between them, but a place in the starting 11 would have boosted confidence.
This is the crux of the matter – squad rotation can be good for confidence and team morale. Wiegman seems set on sticking with a starting 11, even against weaker opposition, but will this risk alienating players?
Only time will tell, but as Euro 2022 gets closer, expect Wiegman to persist with her preferred starting 11 from now on.