"Football is coming home," the fans are already singing. After a dominant group phase, the euphoria in England is increasing. The European Football Championship has so far been a complete success for the hosts. The fact that the original top favorites Spain are waiting in the quarter-finals doesn't worry the team.
After a fantastic preliminary round, hosts England are on a wave of euphoria going into the quarter-finals of the European Football Championship against Spain. "Football is coming home", some Lionesses fans have been singing recently, but now the toughest test so far awaits. "Spain has a fantastic team. But we're ready," said striker Lauren Hemp before the top game on Wednesday (21 CEST/DAZN and in the ntv.de live ticker).
With nine points and 14-0 goals, England had plowed through the group, the highlight being the 8-0 win against Norway in Brighton. The English are now returning to the seaside resort on the south coast - and are faced with a tactical dilemma: Should the team continue to seek salvation on the offensive, or take a role model from the German team, who disenchanted Spain with defensive orientation and merciless efficiency?
Team boss Sarina Wiegman can only decide on the route from a distance, the Dutchwoman tested positive for Corona before the final group game against Northern Ireland and is waiting in vain for approval. "Of course it's frustrating, but we've rehearsed these scenarios. She's still close to us, that's good," said Hemp.
For the fourth time in a row, England could reach the semi-finals of a major tournament. Spain would have been the favorites before the European Championship, but now both world footballer Alexia Putellas and Spain's record goalscorer Jennifer Hermoso are injured.
Coach Jorge Vilda remains optimistic. "Obviously this will be the toughest EURO game so far given the level England are playing at - and they're the hosts, with the fans behind them. But that's something that motivates us," said the 41-year-old: "We like Challenges."
The two teams are only meeting for the second time in a European Championship, in 2017 England had won 2-0 in the group stage. While England were in the semi-finals at the last European Championship, Spain only reached the last four in 1997.