‘We want to beat the Ger­mans again'

The Football League Paper - - WOMEN'S FOOTBALL WEEKLY - By Tony Leighton

IT MAY only be a friendly in­ter­na­tional, but Eng­land’s meet­ing with Ger­many in Duis­burg on Thurs­day is just as vi­tal as next Sun­day’s Euro 2017 qual­i­fier against Bos­nia & Herze­gov­ina, says Liver­pool mid­fielder Fara Wil­liams.

Eng­land’s most-capped player, set for her 148th in­ter­na­tional ap­pear­ance, scored the stop­page­time penalty that en­abled Mark Sampson’s team to beat the Ger­mans 1-0 in the bronze medal match at this sum­mer’s World Cup fi­nals in Canada.

Re­cov­er­ing

That not only gave Eng­land their big­gest-ever World Cup re­ward but also marked the first vic­tory – at the 21st at­tempt – over Ger­many, the world’s sec­on­dranked team and win­ners of the last six Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships.

Wil­liams, back in the na­tional squad af­ter re­cov­er­ing from in­jury, said: “Against Ger­many at the World Cup we went right up against them.We were ag­gres­sive, matched them phys­i­cally and showed what we are about.

“We de­servedly beat the best team in Europe and now we have to do it again be­cause we want to keep pro­gress­ing this Eng­land team, and if we’re go­ing to do that then we’ve got to be tak­ing on and beat­ing the best.

“Our qual­i­fiers for ma­jor tour­na­ments tend to be less de­mand­ing, with all due re­spect to the teams we play against, so to pre­pare for the chal­lenges we face when we get to tour­na­ments it's cru­cial to play strong op­po­nents in friendlies.”

Thurs­day’s match will be Wil­liams’ first Eng­land out­ing since the bronze medal game in July. The mid­fielder has been out of ac­tion through a ham­string in­jury that also kept her out of Liver­pool's run-in to the end of the Su­per League sea­son.

Now, she is back to full fit­ness.

and itch­ing to make her re­turn to the in­ter­na­tional scene.

“I’ve been in train­ing for six or seven weeks,” re­ported the 31year-old for­mer Charl­ton Ath­letic and Ever­ton player.“And I’m definitely match-fit.

“I’ve played for the (Liver­pool) de­vel­op­ment team in three matches, all of them pretty close to­gether in the last week or two and against Manch­ester City, Arse­nal and Ever­ton, so my fit­ness has been given a really good test­ing.”

Wil­liams has known the worst as well as the best of clashes with se­rial win­ners Ger­many, in­clud­ing a 6-2 pound­ing in the Euro 2009 fi­nal in Helsinki, as well as an equally com­pre­hen­sive 3-0 de­feat in last Novem­ber’s friendly at Wem­b­ley.

“In the past,” she said,“we’ve not been able to com­pete with them. In the 2009 Euro fi­nal, we could match them with an in­di­vid­ual like Kelly Smith, but as a team we were never in the game – they showed the dif­fer­ence in stan­dards.

Mo­ti­va­tional

“We’ve pro­gressed a lot since then, though, es­pe­cially since Mark Sampson took over as head coach a couple of years ago. We went into the game against the Ger­mans at Wem­b­ley last year be­liev­ing we could beat them.

“Un­for­tu­nately, we came up short on the day, but that de­feat was a mas­sive mo­ti­va­tional fac­tor for us when we beat them at the World Cup. It took us un­til ex­tra­time to do it, but we were never go­ing to lose that match.

“Ev­ery player in the squad, in­clud­ing the ones that didn’t get on the pitch, had a part in our vic­tory, as did the staff. There’s a real bond in this group and we’ll be out to show it again on Thurs­day and then in the rest of our Euro cam­paign.”

With key play­ers Wil­liams, Manch­ester City striker Toni Dug­gan and Arse­nal mid­fielder Jor­dan Nobbs re­turn­ing af­ter in­jury, Sampson has his strong­est squad since the World Cup for the trip to Ger­many and Bos­nia’s Sun­day visit to Bris­tol.

The head coach could have a dilemma: should he play his firstchoice team against the mighty Ger­mans in a friendly, or should he keep play­ers fresh to en­sure what should be a rou­tine vic­tory against the world’s 72nd-ranked team?

His an­swer is sim­ple:“With two games only three days apart,” he said,“we’ll need to make best use of the 32-player squad. And the nice thing for me about this squad is that I trust ev­ery player to go out and per­form.

“The Ger­many game may be a friendly but we want to win it. When they beat us at Wem­b­ley they steam­rollered us, es­pe­cially in the first half, so af­ter our bril­liant win against them in Canada we want more of the same.

“And, of course, we want to get a good win against Bos­nia. It will be our first game on home soil since the World Cup and I know the fans will be out in sup­port of the girls – and we’ll be aim­ing to give them plenty to cheer.”

PIC­TURE: The FA

WIN­NER: Fara Wil­liams’s penalty se­cured third spot in the World Cup for Eng­land

BACK IN FOLD: Fara Wil­lia

a ms, seen in ac­tion for Liver­pool, is glad to be re­united with Eng­land

and

coach Mark Sampson, above

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