When the crowds first flocked to see the Euro 2022 action at the Amex, we didn’t quite know what to expect.
Okay, we knew the stadium would look amazing – if only a little bit different.
We knew it was going to be loud and lively, but not quite to what extent.
We suspected England would do decently, although their opening 1-0 win over Austria wasn’t very convincing.
And we suspected that Norway would give them a good game – possibly even interrupt their winning start.
expectation? Probably for a fun evening, a good occasion, something different.
A chance to engage people who don’t normally go to games, including children, despite the 8pm kick-off.
There were hopes of an English win, that would be nice.
But maybe not too much emotional investment at this early stage.
Since then, things have moved on in nine days.
A fabulous performance and an 8-0 win ensured that on a night that will take a beating.
Now, after Friday’s sideshow when Austria beat Norway, comes the main event of this tournament in Brighton.
England versus Spain in the Quarterfinals.
By the way, Friday wasn’t bad either.
We saw a good performance from Austria, some late drama and both celebration and despair at the end.
And almost 13,000 spectators in the stadium.
This was essentially a knockout game.
We have the right thing tonight, with the potential for extra time and penalties.
The mood is heated up a little more than last Monday.
There may be a lot more tension in the air. And maybe pressure?
England boss Sarina Wiegman told reporters: “They talk about pressure all the time and we talk about football.
“We just try to do our best and use our strengths to exploit the opponent’s weaknesses.
“Yes, we know it’s the knockout stage, but so does the opponent. It is exciting.
“We want to work as hard as we can and we hope that we will be successful.
“It’s a different game. We always talk about expectations, but we did that early on in the preparations.
“It’s the same structure for every game.”
Demand for tickets for this game was high, as was England v Norway.
The travel arrangements differ from Premier League games, as does the make-up of the crowd.
The last two games in England it was pretty much party time at the Amex and St Mary’s.
Norway might have been the better team for a few minutes at the start, but the first penalty turned the tide.
Spain will be a tougher test even without Alexia Putellas and Jennifer Hermoso.
Wiegman said: “There are a couple of teams who are the favorites and I don’t think that’s changed much over the group stage.
“We have seen that the games are at a high level and there are more teams that can win the Euros.
“Spain are missing two key players, but of course they are still a very good team.
“We know our plan, we know our strengths and we also know that there are more favorites to win.
“We have a game against Spain so we don’t have anything yet.
“They’re a very good team, we’re a very good team too, so we want to play the best game we can and hopefully that will give us the win.
“I’m expecting the game they’ve been playing all along.
“They’ll probably have the ball a lot too, but I hope we have it.
“It’s okay in some moments, but we’re pretty comfortable on the ball, so I’m excited to see how it goes.”
Former Albion striker Alessia Russo has scored three goals as a substitute in the last two games against England.
The expectation is that she’ll stick around as a sub – but one who can clearly make a powerful impact.
It remains to be seen whether Wiegman will also be on the sidelines.
She missed the Northern Ireland game after testing positive for Covid and has been monitoring training remotely.
Speaking remotely at a virtual press conference, she said: “During our preparation, which started last year, we always said we didn’t know how things were going to play out. We are aware, very careful, but it is very invisible.
“We’re trying to stay in our bubble and do the right things. If there is a positive result, we have to be agile and creative and do the work with those who are fit.
“We’re on that path and we want to do whatever it takes to succeed, so we had to act, so yes, we did tighter measurements.
“Of course you hope it doesn’t happen, but we’ve seen Covid in recent years. It’s not brand new, but we know what we need to do.
“We have to keep going with those who can play and keep doing what we’re doing, which is preparing now for Spain and trying to play the best game again.”
“It’s about using our strengths and exploiting their weaknesses. We know there are spaces, they have such an offensive style of play, so we’re absolutely aware of that.”
https://www.theargus.co.uk/sport/20290747.england-play-spain-brighton-euro-2020-quarter-final/?ref=rss England play against Spain in the quarter-finals of Euro 2020 in Brighton