Keira Walsh is missing from England’s first squad since the Women’s World Cup due to injury.

As well as midfielder Walsh, forward Bethany England also drops out, ruled out after undergoing hip surgery last week.

There is no recall at this stage for Beth Mead despite her returning to Arsenal’s matchday squad as an unused substitute in their Champions League qualifying games last week.

And the same applies to Fran Kirby, who has been involved in pre-season with Chelsea – both sat out the World Cup because of injury.

Sarina Wiegman’s 24-player selection sees Maya Le Tissier, Lucy Staniforth and Jess Park brought back into the fold.

Le Tissier and Staniforth were on the standby list ahead of the summer’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, the latter replacing Park, who withdrew because of a shoulder issue.

Wiegman’s World Cup runners-up play Scotland at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light a week on Friday and the Netherlands in Utrecht four days later in the new women’s Nations League.

Wiegman said: “By the time we play our first game, it will be little more than a month since the World Cup final. We have had little time to reflect on all we have achieved so far this year.

“Instead, we will have to make sure the players are fresh enough and ready to perform straight away, if we want to go far in another competition.

“We will play a derby match against Scotland and they have shown good development recently and are getting stronger and stronger, while we know all about the Netherlands of course, and the very talented players they have.

“It is the first time we have had the Nations League in the women’s game, and it will mean even more competitive matches for us to test ourselves.

“While the time to look back on a special period for us will come at the end of the year, it will be good to see the fans again in Sunderland. We have a great connection with the north east and I know they will give us tremendous support again.”

Keira Walsh vowed England are determined to honour their injured team-mates and “get the job done” when they face Spain in Sunday’s World Cup final.

This is the furthest the Lionesses have ever advanced in a global showpiece, with Wednesday’s 3-1 semi-final victory over co-hosts Australia assuring them of at least one place higher than the bronze medal achieved eight years ago in Canada.

England have reached this unprecedented stage without Euro 2022-winning captain Leah Williamson, that tournament’s Golden Boot winner Beth Mead, and one of the game’s most creative attackers in Fran Kirby, all of whom were ruled out of this event with knee injuries.

“I think it is difficult for them,” said Walsh, who started every game of the Euros triumph alongside that trio.


“Obviously when you think about it, they would want nothing more than to be here. It is probably a bit bittersweet. They want us to win and we would want them to be here as well. Leah, Beth and Fran have been really supportive.

“They have messaged after every game. For us, hopefully we can get the job done on Sunday and make them proud of us. I think you are obviously a little bit nervous, but it’s a World Cup final. I think you have just got to enjoy the moment.

“Leah texted me and Georgia (Stanway) and she said ‘just enjoy it. It’s not every day you are playing in the semi-final of a World Cup.’ It will be the same on Sunday.

“When you look back to the Euros, that was probably the most excited everyone has been, the vibes were really good and positive. Hopefully we can have that on Sunday. For me, the most important thing is the girls just enjoy it and take it all in. Live in the moment, because it doesn’t happen every day.”

The PA news agency understands Williamson plans to attend the final, while Mead and Kirby will continue their recovery in England.

Walsh will be well-acquainted with multiple members of the Spain squad who the Lionesses will face at the 75,000-plus capacity Stadium Australia.

Nine of them play with both Walsh and England defender Lucy Bronze at Barcelona, who won the Champions League final in June.

Asked if that might mean Lionesses boss Sarina Wiegman could be turning to her for advice ahead of the monumental match, Walsh replied: “I imagine so, I think she will. But then the girls know about me and Lucy, so it works both ways.

“The Barca girls are obviously unbelievable players and I am sure whatever I say, they will probably come up with something different because they are very special players. But we have got full belief in ourselves and what we can do. Looking forward to it.”

While Walsh is a shoo-in for Sunday’s starting XI, Wiegman, who led Netherlands to the final four years ago, does face one particularly potent dilemma.

Lauren James scored three goals and picked up the same number of assists before she was sent off late in the second half of England’s last-16 victory over Nigeria.

She has now served the two-game ban she was issued for stepping on the back of defender Michelle Alozie, and would be available to start the most important match in Lionesses’ history.

Ella Toone has stepped in for the quarter-final and semi-final, scoring the opener on Wednesday and in the process making her boss’ decision more difficult.

Walsh said: “I think obviously people are going to speak about that, but I think everyone has got to give Tooney credit. She has come back in and she has done an unbelievable job again.

“People probably won’t speak about it too much, but it’s not easy to come in for a quarter-final or semi-final when all the spotlight has been on the player’s place you are taking.

“I think she was unbelievable. She tackled, she got stuck in, she took us up the pitch, she gave us a lot of security. LJ is a massive talent, but I think we have got to put some respect on Tooney’s name as well. She has been fantastic.”

England midfielder Keira Walsh insists the Lionesses are not thinking about the Australian hearts they would break if they eliminate the World Cup co-hosts in Wednesday’s Sydney semi-final.

Australia reached the final four for the first time after beating France in a thrilling penalty shootout, while this will be England’s third crack at advancing to the final of the global showpiece – a feat they have yet to accomplish.

The fervour with which Australians have embraced their side has grown at a frenetic pace, culminating with thousands gathering in fan parks across the country to watch the quarter-final and millions more breaking viewing records on TV.

Walsh said: “Whatever game I play, I want to win. It doesn’t matter who you are playing against. For us, I wouldn’t say we are thinking about spoiling the party.

“I think it is just another game and a massive game at that. We are just fully focused on trying to reach a World Cup final, regardless of who we are playing. I think obviously with the support from Australia it is going to be a little bit different for them in that sense.

“I think we have seen that the (England) girls are ready to fight.

“Obviously, when the whistle ends it is a different story, but I think in the game the girls are very aware of what the game is going to be like, what the stadium is going to be like. I think, for us, we are more than ready for it.”

Sydney’s Stadium Australia, where England beat Colombia in the last eight, seats over 75,000 fans, the majority of whom are expected to support the hosts.

In that sense, the Lionesses’ 2-1 comeback victory over Colombia to reach this stage served as an excellent dress rehearsal, their fans another sea of raucous yellow who equally viewed England as public enemy number one.

Walsh, who in just over a year has secured both the Euro 2022 trophy with England and the Champions League title with Barcelona, said dampening the mood with a goal or two could help the Lionesses take control of the narrative.

She said: “(The crowd) was massive for us at the Euros, especially in the final. There are those moments where the opposition could score and it shifts momentum sometimes when you’re playing, it gives you an extra push when you know the crowd is behind you.

“But also when you can quieten the crowd it is a very nice feeling. I think for us trying to take the momentum out of the game is going to be important. There are positives and negatives for both. We have experienced both.”

Walsh missed England’s third group-stage encounter against China after sustaining a knee injury in the first half of their 1-0 victory over Denmark.

At the time it was feared the issue could be tournament-ending, like the anterior cruciate ligament injuries that prevented Euro 2022 captain Leah Williamson and Golden Boot winner Beth Mead from joining Sarina Wiegman’s World Cup squad.

It turned out not to be as serious as initially suspected, and the 26-year-old returned to play 120 minutes of England’s last-16 victory over Nigeria, which the Lionesses ultimately won 4-2 on penalties.

Williamson has now made the trip to Australia and was in the stands for the Lionesses’ Colombia victory.

“It’s a massive boost for the team,” Walsh added. “To see her supporting us on the opposite side of the world, it’s not an easy flight.

“I think it kind of shows what she feels about this team. The first time I saw her she was actually standing outside my hotel room waving.

“She didn’t want to distract us on game day, so she kind of just stood outside and waved from there.

“To get the win and celebrate with her afterwards, I mean I imagine it’s not easy for her to watch those games because she would want to be playing in them, so I think for us we really appreciate her support.

“I think it shows what a good character and what type of person she is that she’s able to do that for us.”

Keira Walsh could make a stunning return for England’s last-16 World Cup clash against Nigeria.

Walsh was stretchered off late in the first half of the Lionesses’ 28 July victory over Denmark, with fears that the influential midfielder’s tournament could be over, but scans revealed her knee injury was not as serious as first suspected.

The 26-year-old took another step forward in her recovery when she joined her team-mates in training at the Central Coast Stadium on the eve of their last-16 showdown, before England flew to Brisbane ahead of the knockout encounter.

England boss Sarina Wiegman said: “She is doing well. She started her rehab straight after we knew what was going on.

“She has been on the pitch, she has been training today. Now we will wait until [we see] how she recovers from that training session and if she does well then she is available tomorrow.”

The Dutch boss, who led the Netherlands to the World Cup final four years ago in France, would not reveal specifically what injury Walsh had sustained, but did add: “I can only say that there wasn’t a ligament injury.

“Of course that moment in that game against Denmark, that was a very hard moment, but after the assessments and we knew what was going on we also said don’t take any assumptions.

“Just wait until a proper assessment has been done. That’s what we did and then we got the green light to just get her rehab started.

“Everybody is going on about injuries all the time, but the day after we noticed things were much better.”

The moment Walsh was stretchered off – grimacing, telling team staff “I’ve done my knee” and fending off help from team-mates – England fans began to fear that she was the most recent victim of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) crisis facing women’s football.

European champions Leah Williamson and Beth Mead were ruled out with that injury ahead of this tournament, while Fran Kirby also underwent surgery for a separate knee issue.

Wiegman stuck to the Lionesses’ standard 4-3-3 formation in the immediate aftermath of Walsh’s injury and brought in Manchester City’s Laura Coombs for the remainder of the 1-0 Denmark victory, but against China handed Manchester United captain Katie Zelem her first England start and switched to a 3-5-2, which paid off with a thumping 6-1 victory.

Wiegman added: “We have two options now. The way we played and what we did against China, we have taken that into consideration.”

Nigeria head coach Randy Waldrum is confident in his plan for however England line up, with or without Walsh.

He said: “Obviously, she’s a key player in the midfield for them. Kind of like we had to do for Australia and Sam Kerr, we had to prepare with and without, we have to do the same.

“England has so many weapons. All of those players are playing all over the world in high profile settings. There are more that can do damage to us than just her. They’ve given us a lot of challenges to prepare for and it will just be another one if she comes in.

“We have to prepare for both, as a coach I would expect her to go with a back three because they played ever so well like that.

“We also know they’re going to adapt to how they can best play against us so we have to prepare for both situations, that’s what makes the job challenging because we don’t have a lot of time. We’ve tried this week to prepare for both and we’ll see which way they come out.

“[Sarina Wiegman] has done a fantastic job with England, since she took over you can see the progression of the team.

“When I look at a coach and try to analyse, if I don’t know them personally, you look at the team and tell if they have an idea. In their organisation, they look like they have a plan [and] a way they want to play.”

England midfielder Keira Walsh is back in team training ahead of their Women’s World Cup last-16 tie with Nigeria.

The 26-year-old was stretchered off during England’s Group D win over Denmark, with what was initially feared could be a tournament-ending knee injury.

However, the Barcelona star’s injury is not as bad as first thought and her chances of featuring in the knockout phase received a boost on Sunday.

The Lionesses begin the knockout phase of their World Cup campaign against Nigeria on Monday and a tweet from England read: “All 23 players are out for training today at Central Coast Stadium.”

Walsh missed England’s last group game, a dominant 6-1 victory over China, and it remains to be seen whether she will be involved for the last-16 clash.

The 26-year-old did not hurt her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), with Sarina Wiegman saying ahead of the China game: “Keira is OK. We said that it’s not an ACL and we can’t give you more information.”

Knee injuries had already ruled captain Leah Williamson, Fran Kirby and Beth Mead out of the World Cup.

England veteran Rachel Daly is confident the Lionesses have the depth to cope without injured midfielder Keira Walsh when their World Cup campaign resumes on Tuesday in Adelaide.

The European champions need just a point in their final group match against China to secure top spot in Group D at Hindmarsh Stadium and set up a last-16 meeting with one of Nigeria, Canada or Australia in Brisbane.

Walsh will miss out after suffering a knee injury in Friday’s 1-0 victory over Denmark, but boss Sarina Wiegman was given an encouraging update when a scan revealed the problem was not to the 26-year-old’s anterior cruciate ligament.

Daly said: “Obviously it was heartbreaking. You always fear the worst in that situations like I’m sure you guys did. As a team-mate, as a friend, it’s even harder.

“She’s obviously such a pivotal part of our team on and off the pitch, so it was tough. It’s not nice to see anyone get injured. But a sigh of relief I suppose when it wasn’t the dreaded three-letter word (ACL) and we’re all just here to support her and get her through whatever she needs.

“It’s obviously difficult losing a player of her ability and the quality that she brings, and like I said off the pitch she’s a vital part of the team as well so it’s tough.

“[We have] a 23-player squad that can all be capable of stepping up in these moments. And we know that as a team, the players believe in that. The staff believe in that. And I hope that everybody else on the outside believes that. And yes, it’s sad to see someone not be able to play, but it’s a fantastic opportunity for somebody else to step up.

“It’s a team game and we have to get on with it and ultimately to get the job done for Keira as well. I think everyone’s just in better sprits, obviously going into the game knowing that we need to get the job done.

“I think what you saw on Friday was the resilience side that we have. It was obviously so difficult losing her, but we’ve got players to step into that role. You know, no one’s going to replace somebody else. Everyone brings something different to the squad, their own unique ability.”

Walsh, who was carried off on a stretcher in the first half of the Denmark clash and later appeared on crutches, will remain at the team’s Terrigal base in New South Wales to undergo medical assessments.

Monday also marks the one-year anniversary of the historic Wembley final that saw England lift their first major trophy at Euro 2022.

Of that victorious Lionesses squad, Ellen White and Jill Scott have since retired, while Leah Williamson, Fran Kirby and Beth Mead were ruled out of this summer’s World Cup through injury.

Losing Walsh, then, also guarantees that more than half of Wiegman’s starting XI to face China on Tuesday will be different from her unchanged line-up last summer.

So while Daly treasures that trophy and the uplift in attention paid to the Women’s Super League, she was – like many of those remaining from that triumph – eager to shift the focus to the present as England push for a first Women’s World Cup title.

The 31-year-old added: “I think the Lionesses obviously have had the target on our back a little bit, but you know, we always say pressure is the privilege and we’ve earned that, right?

“So things have changed in that sense. But yeah, I don’t think any internally, the players haven’t changed whatsoever. We’re all just the same old people that we were before. Obviously things around us change, getting recognised a little bit more, stuff like that. But yeah, I don’t think a whole lot has changed.

“And obviously, it’s not something that we particularly focus on is the Euros because a lot of the group that are with us now weren’t at the Euros, so it’s great to have that in the bag but this is a new tournament and that’s what we’re focusing on now.”

England midfielder Keira Walsh insists the prospect of completing a personal trophy treble with a World Cup win has scarcely crossed her mind.

Walsh followed up England’s Euro 2022 triumph and player-of-the-match honours in that final with a move to Barcelona, with whom she achieved Champions League glory alongside fellow Lioness Lucy Bronze in June.

A first World Cup at the August 20 Sydney final would cap off a phenomenal 13-month run for Rochdale native Walsh, who joined the Spanish side for what was believed to be a world record fee in September.

She said: “It’s not something I’ve thought about but it would be pretty exciting.

“I think when I first moved to Barcelona I did have to take a deep breath. When you go into that environment and you look at their midfield it is a little bit daunting, I think is fair to say.

“They were all super helpful with it though and I’m not really on social media to see those things. I just take the game day-to-day and enjoy playing. I don’t really focus too much on what’s going on on the outside.

“But when it’s all said and done, winning the Euros and the Champions League in the space of a year, you do need to take a breath and take a step back – not to evaluate it but let it all sink in. It’s an exciting thing and then going to a World Cup as well.”

Both England and their Friday opponents Denmark picked up wins in their opening contests, so the second encounter for each might prove vital in deciding the Group D winner. 

The Lionesses could even seal a trip to the knockout rounds tomorrow if they defeat Denmark and China draw with Haiti in the late kick-off.

Walsh, nominated for FIFA’s best women’s player of the year in 2022, agreed it seems her ascension to the elite ranks of her position has come with a corresponding response of teams trying to shut her down.

She said: “Yeah, but I think I was used to it at Man City, it happened quite a lot in the Women’s Super League.

“I don’t necessarily think it’s just me, I think a lot of teams are trying to stop holding midfielders in general because that’s where football is going now.

“I think the game has changed as a whole, but I’ve got more influence from the Spanish in terms of how they’ve always played, and the Pep [Guardiola] influence has always helped me in that respect. In general football I think more people do try and play through the central midfielder.

“Yeah of course [it’s a challenge I want], I think first-half it’s usually a little more difficult, I think in the second half it tends to open up a bit more anyway, but for me, I want to be playing in those tighter situations and really testing myself. I enjoy the challenge and am just looking forward to seeing the rest of the tournament.”

The 26-year-old, who made her senior England debut in November 2017 and was named in her first World Cup squad four years ago, is amongst the Lionesses with the most major tournament experience having also featured for Team GB at the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

England boss Sarina Wiegman has been “pushing” Walsh to take more of a leadership role on the pitch, a role she has somewhat reluctantly accepted.

Walsh added: “Maybe it’s just solving the pictures on the pitch and coaching a little bit more. I wouldn’t say I’m the loudest so it doesn’t come naturally to me. But it’s something she wants me to improve on.

“I think I’m one of the more experienced ones in terms of being at tournaments and winning the Champions League so players do automatically look at that but it’s a team full of leaders and it doesn’t matter if you’ve played one game or 50.

“We listen to each other and respect each other’s opinions. I think that’s what’s so special about this team. Hopefully we can show that against Denmark and what we’re about.”

Keira Walsh admits she is fearful of picking up an injury as the increasing load on players in women’s football shows no sign of abating.

The Barcelona midfielder starred as England won the Women’s European Championship on home soil last summer and will be aiming to replicate the success at the World Cup later this month.

Walsh won the league and Champions League double in her first season with the Spanish giants, making 29 appearances alongside her 11 caps for the Lionesses.

With the women’s game continuing to grow, more fixtures are being added to the calendar, with the Nations League the latest competition to cross over from men’s football.

England captain Leah Williamson and Euro 2022 golden boot winner Beth Mead will both miss the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand due to serious knee injuries, just two of several players to be struck by similar issues recently.

Walsh feels the resources behind women’s football do not allow for the same protection as their male counterparts as she conceded she is always concerned by being sidelined.

“I think there is a massive worry,” she told the PA news agency.

“Look at the resources the men have as well, I don’t think that’s available to us and we are being asked to play close to what they play in a season now without the kind of resources behind it.

“The medical teams, they work so hard but it’s impossible to keep everybody fresh all the time and we’re playing so many games and I think – with the introduction of the Nations League as well – it’s going to be difficult and you see how many ACL injuries there have been and how many players are getting injured.

“I would be lying if I say it’s not a worry for me every time I go on the pitch that I’m going to get injured next.

“More growth, more investment – that’s what we want. It’s what fans of women’s football have been calling for – but it can’t be at the detriment to player’s health – not just physical health but mental health is really important as well.”

Walsh, 26, believes close friend Williamson and Mead will still have a part to play as their team-mates aim for World Cup glory Down Under, with the Arsenal pair having already been in and around the squad as they prepare for the finals.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Keira Walsh (@keirawalsh)


“Regardless of their injuries, they are two vital members of the squad and I think they can still add value,” Walsh added.

“I’m sure Sarina (Wiegman), as manager, will keep them involved in some capacity and when you’ve been with each other for six weeks, to see some fresh faces and hear some new voices is also nice and I’m sure we’ll miss them.”

Before jetting off to Australia, Walsh took time out to return home to Rochdale and participate in a Fun Football session organised by McDonald’s to give children access to football.

With the England squad coming from the length and breadth of the country, such sessions are key – according to Walsh.

“I think if you look at where each of the Lionesses are from, we’re really spread out,” she said.

“For me in Rochdale, I think it’s really cool to see that there’s going to be a free football session for girls to attend.

“I think it takes the pressure off the parents and the girls can just focus on having fun. When I was younger, I for sure would have wanted to go to something like that. Hopefully we can keep pushing the increase in girls playing football.”

:: Keira Walsh was speaking to celebrate the opening of McDonald’s Fun Football sessions in Lionesses’ home towns during the Women’s World Cup. Keira hopes to encourage the next generation of young girls to get involved. Sign up to your nearest free session at

England trio Alessia Russo, Keira Walsh and Lauren James were among the winners as the inaugural Women’s Football Awards took place in London on Thursday.

Manchester United forward Russo was named player of the year, while midfielder Walsh, her fellow Euro 2022 winner who joined Barcelona from Manchester City last summer for a world-record fee, took the international player of the year award.

Chelsea forward James and Liverpool midfielder Missy Bo Kearns, both 21, were winners in the young player of the year category.

There were also gongs for two members of the England men’s team, with captain Harry Kane and Declan Rice receiving ally awards, and former England and Arsenal striker Ian Wright was named women’s football champion of the year.

The ceremony, hosted by Eni Aluko and Jamie Carragher, followed more than 20,000 public votes being cast and ratification by a judging panel led by United forward Nikita Parris, Real Madrid midfielder Caroline Weir and Sky Sports News presenter Hayley McQueen.

United, who this season have secured their highest Women’s Super League points haul and Champions League qualification for the first time, as well as making their Women’s FA Cup final debut, were named best club of the year.

Other individuals recognised included former Everton and Liverpool player Fern Whelan, the first women’s football equality, diversity and inclusion executive for the Professional Footballers’ Association, receiving the Off The Pitch award.

Karen Carney, who retired in 2019 with 144 England caps, was honoured with a lifetime achievement award, and there was a special recognition award given to Carol Thomas, the captain of the Lionesses team that were runners-up at the first women’s European Championship in 1984.

Aluko, another former player to have won more than 100 England caps, said: “Tonight was a highlight of my career. This was a first for women’s football and a landmark moment for the game. I am so proud to be part of this event.

“For the first time, women’s football has got the recognition it deserved. It is even more special because the public nominated and voted for these awards.

“To see so many amazing footballers, people, organisations and brands recognised for advancing and improving the game we love was phenomenal.”

Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe are among the leading candidates for The Best FIFA Men's Player award after unsurprisingly being named on the 14-strong list of nominees on Thursday.

FIFA's awards ceremony will take place on February 27 and recognise the sport's high achievers from 2022 across several categories, with The Best FIFA Men's Player prize being the headline attraction.

Messi, who won the 2019 award and came a close second to Robert Lewandowski for 2021, will be the firm favourite after inspiring Argentina to World Cup success.

It was the Albiceleste's first such title since 1986, and Messi played a crucial role in the triumph as Argentina beat France on penalties after a 3-3 draw last month.

Messi scored five goals and set up another three to win himself the Golden Ball, and he nearly took home the Golden Boot as well.

Of course, his Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Kylian Mbappe won the latter prize thanks to his hat-trick against Argentina in the dramatic final, and he will likely be Messi's closest rival.

Had it not been a World Cup year, Manchester City's Erling Haaland might have fancied his chances of staking a claim after a sensational start to life in the Premier League.

Ballon d'Or winner Karim Benzema is among the nominees and may be expecting a top-three finish after carrying Real Madrid to another Champions League crown, though his lack of World Cup involvement could prove detrimental.

Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti is in the running for The Best FIFA Men's Coach gong, though Argentina's Lionel Scaloni will likely be the favourite of the five-man shortlist.

Argentina are also represented in The Best FIFA Men's Goalkeeper category by Emiliano Martinez among the five nominees.

For the women's prizes, Euro 2022 champions England have several nominations.

Beth Mead, Keira Walsh and Leah Williamson are all up for the players' award; Sarina Wiegman will be the favourite for the coaches' accolade; and Mary Earps is in contention to be named The Best FIFA Women's Goalkeeper.

The voting process will involve international captains and coaches, journalists, and fans selecting their winners in the various categories.

Voting closes on February 3 and FIFA will announce three finalists from each section thereafter.


The Best FIFA Men's Player
Julian Alvarez (Argentina/River Plate/Manchester City)
Jude Bellingham (England/Borussia Dortmund) 
Karim Benzema (France/Real Madrid) 
Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium/Manchester City)
Erling Haaland (Norway/ Borussia Dortmund/Manchester City)
Achraf Hakimi (Morocco/Paris Saint-Germain) 
Robert Lewandowski (Poland/Bayern Munich/Barcelona)
Sadio Mane (Senegal/Liverpool/Bayern Munich)
Kylian Mbappe (France/Paris Saint-Germain)
Lionel Messi (Argentina/Paris Saint-Germain)
Luka Modric (Croatia/Real Madrid)
Neymar (Brazil/Paris Saint-Germain)
Mohamed Salah (Egypt/Liverpool) 
Vinicius Junior (Brazil/Real Madrid)

The Best FIFA Men's Coach
Carlo Ancelotti (Italy/Real Madrid)
Didier Deschamps (France/French National Team)
Pep Guardiola (Spain/Manchester City) 
Walid Regragui (Morocco/Wydad AC/Moroccan National Team)
Lionel Scaloni (Argentina/Argentinian National Team) 

The Best FIFA Men's Goalkeeper
Alisson Becker (Brazil/Liverpool) 
Yassine Bounou (Morocco/Sevilla)
Thibaut Courtois (Belgium/Real Madrid)
Ederson (Brazil/Manchester City)
Emiliano Martinez (Argentina/Aston Villa) 

The Best FIFA Women's Player: 
Aitana Bonmatí (Spain/Barcelona)
Debinha (Brazil/North Carolina Courage)
Jessie Fleming (Canada/Chelsea)
Ada Hegerberg (Norway/Lyon)
Sam Kerr (Australia/Chelsea)
Beth Mead (England/Arsenal)
Vivianne Miedema (Netherlands/Arsenal)
Alex Morgan (United States/Orlando Pride/San Diego Wave)
Lena Oberdorf (Germany/Wolfsburg)
Alexandra Popp (Germany/Wolfsburg)
Alexia Putellas (Spain/Barcelona)
Wendie Renard (France/Lyon)
Keira Walsh (England/Manchester City/Barcelona)
Leah Williamson (England/Arsenal)

The Best FIFA Women's Coach
Sonia Bompastor (France/Lyon) 
Emma Hayes (England/Chelsea)
Bev Priestman (England/Canadian National Team)
Pia Sundhage (Sweden/Brazilian National Team)
Martina Voss-Tecklenburg (Germany/German National Team)
Sarina Wiegman (Netherlands / English National Team)

The Best FIFA Women's Goalkeeper
Ann-Katrin Berger (Germany/Chelsea Women)
Mary Earps (England/Manchester United) 
Christiane Endler (Chile/Lyon)
Merle Frohms (Germany/Eintracht Frankfurt /Wolfsburg)
Alyssa Naeher (United States/Chicago Red Stars)
Sandra Panos Garca-Villamil (Spain/Barcelona)

Barcelona succeeded in their push to sign Keira Walsh after using "really aggressive" transfer tactics, according to Manchester City boss Gareth Taylor.

The England midfielder, who shone for the Lionesses in their Euro 2022 trophy success, joined Barcelona on September 7.

The Catalan giants were reported to have paid a world-record fee of around £350,000 (€400,000) to secure Walsh's signature, although that has been cast into some doubt by subsequent comments from Barcelona.

Walsh left City a day before the Women's Super League transfer deadline, and Taylor said the timing was "down to Barcelona and nothing to do with us".

"I always believe that you want players who want to be here. Keira had given eight solid years of service and probably her last season developed into one of her best seasons for the club and on the international stage," Taylor said.

"When you have that and another project comes along, that was a real opportunity for her: a different league and a different country."

She pushed for the move, Taylor added. At that point City had little option but to negotiate the best possible deal.

"The last thing you want is a player who's going to stay because we made a decision to not take a world record fee and being really disgruntled; I don't think anyone really gains from that," Taylor said.

"We tried to support Keira the best we could while trying not to kill ourselves. Some of the earlier bids were of that mind where we weren't comfortable with that.

"But towards the end it was really aggressive bidding from them."

Taylor said the fee, which has not been officially disclosed, was high enough to show "we're doing something right here at the club".

He said signing a like-for-like replacement at close to Walsh's world-class level might cost City as much as they received for the 25-year-old, who has been reunited with England team-mate and former City colleague Lucy Bronze at Barcelona.

After a summer of big-name exits, with Bronze going to Barcelona and Georgia Stanway and Caroline Weir also departing to join Bayern Munich and Real Madrid respectively, and Ellen White retiring, it remains to be seen how City cope in the new WSL season, which gets under way this weekend.

On deadline day, City plugged a hole in their squad with the signing of Japan midfielder Yui Hasegawa from West Ham.

Taylor takes his team to Aston Villa on Sunday for their opener, after last week's programme of games was postponed following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

Germany dominated the team of the tournament for the Women's Euro 2022 despite losing 2-1 to England in Sunday's Wembley final.

Both teams had won every match en route to a highly anticipated decider at England's national stadium in front of a record crowd for a European Championship match, with 87,192 in attendance.

An extra-time winner from Chloe Kelly proved the difference as the Lionesses claimed their first major title, dealing rivals Germany their first defeat in nine Women's Euros finals.

Beth Mead was forced off in the final but had still done enough to be named player of the tournament, also edging the top scorer award on assists ahead of Alexandra Popp – who missed the match following an injury in the warm-up.

Yet there was room for both superstar performers in the official team of the tournament.

Mead was among four England players, with goalkeeper Mary Earps, captain Leah Williamson and midfielder pass master Keira Walsh each also recognised.

Meanwhile, Germany had five players included; along with Popp, defenders Giulia Gwinn and Martina Hegering made the cut, as did young player of the tournament Lena Oberdorf.

Next to Mead and Popp in the front three was Klara Buhl, even though coronavirus kept her out of both the semi-finals and the final.

France were beaten by Germany in the last four and were represented by defender Sakina Karchaoui, while Spain lost to both finalists but still had Aitana Bonmati make the XI.

Women's Euro 2022 team of the tournament:

Mary Earps (England); Giulia Gwinn (Germany), Leah Williamson (England), Martina Hegering (Germany), Sakina Karchaoui (France); Keira Walsh (England), Lena Oberdorf (Germany), Aitana Bonmati (Spain); Beth Mead (England), Alexandra Popp (Germany), Klara Buhl (Germany).

It is a major tournament held in England where the hosts are looking to end a long wait without silverware, but Germany stand in their way.

This feels awfully familiar.

Sarina Wiegman's Lionesses have captured the hearts of a nation, with fans flocking to watch them reach their first major tournament final since 2009 where they lost to *checks notes* Germany.

Meanwhile, Martina Voss-Tecklenburg's side have advanced to the final comparatively under the radar, with Die Nationalelf picking up impressive scalps of their own along the way.

It promises to be a fascinating contest at Wembley Stadium in front of what is expected to be a record crowd for any European Championship game - men's or women's - on Sunday.

A huge 90 minutes, maybe more, awaits the two teams, but where will it be won and lost? Stats Perform takes a look at the finer details ahead of the Euro 2022 final.

Raise a glass to Mead and Popp and drink it in

While teams win tournaments, we always look to those individuals who we will remember in years to come for their performances.

Undoubtedly two of the standout players in England during the last three weeks have been Beth Mead and Alexandra Popp, current joint-top scorers with six goals each.

The Lionesses have not found it difficult to score goals, finding the net 20 times in five games in the tournament so far. In fact, only Germany in 2009 have ever scored more at a Women's Euros (21).

Mead's goal in the opening 1-0 win against Austria at Old Trafford was vital for getting their campaign rolling, before she grabbed a hat-trick in the 8-0 thrashing of Norway, another in the 5-0 win against Northern Ireland, and the opener in the 4-0 semi-final humbling of Sweden.

While Germany have not been quite as proficient – still scoring a respectable 13 goals – Popp's contributions had initially come when adding to leads, with the captain's goals against Denmark, Spain, Finland and Austria all arriving when her team were already ahead.

However, she came into her own in the last-four clash with France, scoring both goals in the 2-1 win, including a dominant header to win it with 14 minutes remaining.

Having scored in all five of Germany's games so far, a goal at Wembley would see Popp become just the second player to score in every match from the group stages to the final at a single edition of a European Championship (men's and women's), after Michel Platini for France in 1984.

Whichever one raises their game for the final could ultimately provide the deciding factor. In the case of Popp, it could well be that she has to score herself to make a difference, as she has not yet recorded an assist in the tournament, whereas Mead has four assists to her name, more than anyone else.

The strongest spine could be the key

They say a good attack wins games while a good defence wins trophies. So far, both of these teams have been effective at each end of the pitch.

England's only goal conceded in five games came when they went 1-0 down to Spain in the quarter-finals, before coming back to win 2-1 in extra time, while Germany's one against was an own goal in their semi-final against France.

An opposition player is yet to find a way past Germany, and it is not hard to see why. Kathrin-Julia Hendrich and Marina Hegering have been a steely combination at the back for Voss-Tecklenburg's team, with Hegering making 41 ball recoveries in her five games, the joint seventh most among outfield players in the tournament.

Germany youngster Lena Oberdorf has had an outstanding tournament in midfield and has 44 ball recoveries to her name.

That is the same number as England captain Leah Williamson, a player who leads by example at centre-back alongside Millie Bright, who has managed a team-high 21 clearances.

Both centre-back pairings have had plenty of help in front of them, with 20-year-old Oberdorf attempting more tackles (19) than any other player from the two finalists, while England's Keira Walsh has recovered the ball 36 times and has the best passing accuracy of any player to have attempted at least 250 passes (89.56 per cent).

Midfield could be a key area for England, who as a team have attempted 2,597 passes overall with an accuracy of 83.4 per cent, both ranked second across the tournament, while Germany have attempted 2,222 passes (ranked fourth) with an accuracy of 77 per cent (ranked seventh).

England's Germany hoodoo

It is not exclusive to the women's game, but England have an unflattering record against Germany, especially in major tournaments.

The Lionesses have won just two of their 27 meetings with Germany in all competitions, and have lost more often against them than any other opponent (D4 L21), though they did win their last meeting 3-1 in February.

Germany have won all four of their matches against England at Women's Euros by an aggregate score of 15-4. This will be the first meeting between the sides at the tournament since the 2009 final, which Germany won 6-2.

That was the last time England reached a Women's Euros final, having also lost to Sweden in 1984, while this will be Germany's ninth appearance in a final, meaning they have appeared in 69 per cent of Women's Euros title matches. They have triumphed on all eight of their previous appearances in finals so far.

You could therefore be forgiven for thinking that too much history is on the Germans' side for England to stand a chance, but the tournament hosts have a not-so-secret weapon.

Wiegman will be the first manager to have led two different nations in Women's Euros finals, having won the 2017 tournament with the Netherlands, and her overall record in the competition shows 11 wins from 11 games, with her teams having scored 33 goals and conceded just four.

Whatever happens on Sunday, it is sure to be quite a spectacle. Will football finally come "home", or will Germany repeat history and add to their own outstanding legacy?

England captain Leah Williamson and fellow centre-back Millie Bright face the most demanding test of their careers when they face Germany's Alexandra Popp in Sunday's Euro 2022 final.

That is the view of former Lionesses skipper Faye White, who says England should "see themselves as equals" with the eight-time European champions but is wary of the threat posed by Germany's goal-hungry captain.

"I don't worry as much as I would have certainly a few years ago or in the past," White told Stats Perform.

White captained England in the Euro 2009 final, where hopes of a first European title were dashed as Germany dished out a 6-2 victory hammering in Helsinki.

Prolific striker Birgit Prinz scored twice that day for Germany, and White said Popp presents "exactly the same" threat, with the Wolfsburg star having joined England's Beth Mead on six goals in the battle for the Golden Boot.

Popp's double against France led Germany to a 2-1 semi-final victory, teeing up the shot at hosts England, whose 4-0 demolition of Sweden underlined their threat.

White said what impressed her most about Popp, who is coming off a long knee injury lay-off, was "that clinicalness... that desire we could see with both her goals".

The first was a volley on the stretch, and the second a bullet header after finding a yard of space that left White "speechless".

"That is what she has and that's why I think it's a massive game for our two centre-halves," White said.

White's view is that when it comes to powerful strikers, Germany "just breed them", with 31-year-old Popp the latest in a long line.

If England are to set aside a record of two wins from 27 past meetings with Germany, then keeping Popp quiet will surely be essential.

"Millie and Leah have to win the battle basically. And it's the biggest game of their lives. Trust me," White said.

England have had many special moments in the tournament, with an 8-0 thrashing of Norway in the group stage, the extra-time victory over Spain in the quarter-finals and Tuesday's demolition job on Sweden capturing the imagination.

Germany have perhaps had fewer similarly exhilarating results, but they have been impressively solid, leading White to state that "everyone just has to have a big game" if England are to lift the trophy at Wembley.

She says England are "in a mindset where they will relish it rather than be squashed by that", adding: "We are in the best place we will ever be to be able to do it and beat them. I just keep thinking, please make this time be the time we get one over on Germany."

England have been semi-finalists at the past two World Cups and also reached that stage at Euro 2017, which is why White considers this generation so different to her own.

"In my time when we played in 2009, it was a completely different gulf between the two teams that matched up in that final," she said. "The mindset of these current players is that they won't fear the Germans like we did. We know the history, but it's not history of recent times as the Germans haven't got to the latter stages of tournaments as England have recently."

The goals of the likes of Mead and Alessia Russo have been crucial, but it has been Sarina Wiegman's influence as England's manager that has most impressed White.

Wiegman, who led the Netherlands to European glory five years ago, only joined up with England in 2021 but has made a tremendous impact.

White said Wiegman has been "the key", adding: "I've always felt that the last bit of the puzzle was the manager who's won something.

"Because when you're in the changing room, and you're going through all the tactics, knowing that that coach has won something, I just think that's invaluable."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.