Irish Daily Mirror


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IT PROMISES to be a head to head shoot-out that will decide who are crowned the Queens of Europe.

Not that either of the leading protagonis­ts are willing to put personal glory before team success when England meet Germany in Sunday’s

Euro 2022 final.

The seismic showdown has a number of fascinatin­g sub-plots as the old enemies clash on the greatest stage looking to make history.

But none of them feel more interestin­g than the battle between rival strikers Beth Mead (top, left) and Alexandra Popp (top, right).

With six goals each heading into the tournament’s finale, Mead and Popp find themselves in a direct battle to land the Golden Boot.

Lethal Lioness Mead has produced the form of her life to fire England to their first final in 13 years.

What a difference 12 months can make, considerin­g this time last year Mead was sitting at home feeling down in the dumps and rejected after being axed from the Team GB squad for the Olympic Games in Japan.

Arsenal legend Ian Wright described the Gunners ace, 27, as a “goalscorin­g monster” in the wake of her hat-trick in the group stages against Norway, when Mead admitted afterwards she would “love” to win the Golden Boot.

She was more cautious when asked the same question at Bramall Lane this week, having scored again to help England thrash Sweden in the semi-final.

“It’s more about the team than an individual,” she said, “and I’m just focusing on doing what I can to help us keep winning games.”

Standing between Mead and a clean sweep of honours though is German giant Popp. The Wolfsburg superstar, 31, has a stellar CV which includes 119 internatio­nal caps, 59 goals, an Olympic gold medal and 16 domestic trophies, including three women’s Champions League triumphs.

Not bad for someone who once completed an apprentice­ship as a zookeeper. But Popp believes she still has unfinished business and said: “Winning the Golden Boot is not my priority. My priority is to win the Euros.”

The Germans would not even be in the final if it wasn’t for the exploits of Popp, who scored twice to seal a famous win over France in the semis.

The first of those goals entered her into Euros history as she became the first player to score in five success matches in the tournament.

Team-mate Lena Oberdorf reckons Popp is an animal in front of goal, saying: “She’s just a beast in there. That’s exactly what we need from her.”

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