Soccer

What lies ahead for the Lionesses following their Euro 2022 success?

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England’s march to Euro 2022 glory broke new ground for Sarina Wiegman’s team as they wrote their names into the nation’s sporting folklore.

However, skipper Leah Williamson was swift to insist that victory over Germany at Wembley should be regarded as the start of a process rather than the end.

Here we take a look at what lies ahead for the Lionesses.

Points make prizes

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England will have a matter of weeks to revel in their triumph, with the new Women’s Super League season due to kick off on September 11 and two key World Cup qualifiers to come before it does. Wiegman’s side will make it to next year’s finals in Australia and New Zealand if they avoid defeat by Austria – their opening Euro 2022 opponents – in their penultimate Group D qualifier at the Wiener Neustadter Stadion on Saturday, September 3, with Luxembourg due at the bet365 Stadium three days later. The Lionesses currently boast a perfect record with eight wins out of eight, 68 goals scored and none conceded.

D-Day Down Under

Should Wiegman’s side secure their trip Down Under for next summer’s World Cup finals, the degree of difficultly will increase significantly as they target the biggest prize of all. Ranked eighth by FIFA before they kicked a ball at the Euros, they dispensed with second-placed Sweden in style in the semi-finals and the Germans, who were fifth, when it mattered most. However, holders the United States remain world football’s powerhouse and the four-times winners – England went out in the semi-finals in both 2015 and 2019 – will take some beating.

Ellen’s wait

The Lionesses’ record goalscorer Ellen White moved to within one of Wayne Rooney’s tally of 53 for his country with her double in the 8-0 group-stage victory over Norway. She did not find the back of the net in the knockout stages but will hope to match and then overtake the former Manchester United striker either against Austria – she scored the only goal when the sides met earlier in qualification – or Luxembourg, against whom she struck twice in a 10-0 away win.

Cashing in on success

Claiming a first major trophy to such public acclaim has catapulted England and women’s football in general into the spotlight both at home and abroad. Wiegman and her players are likeable, approachable and strong role models, and they are sure to be inundated with offers of sponsorship and endorsements both collectively and individually. It would be no surprise if manufacturers of sports underwear are already queuing up to talk to matchwinner Chloe Kelly following her delirious goal celebration, which mimicked that of the USA’s Brandi Chastain after she scored the decisive penalty in the 1999 World Cup final.

Honours incoming

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Some of England’s 1966 World Cup winners had to wait decades to be recognised for their feat, but Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has already called for the Lionesses’ success to be celebrated in the New Year’s Honours List. In addition, the BBC Sports Personality of the Year already has strong candidates for its individual, team and coaching awards.

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