England Women

Sarina Wiegman stresses importance of tough tests as England prepare to face Spain

Jamie Spencer
England will host Spain in their second Arnold Clark Cup match
England will host Spain in their second Arnold Clark Cup match / Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/GettyImages

England manager Sarina Wiegman is welcoming the stiffer tests her team is facing at the Arnold Clark Cup as it is providing better preparation for Euro 2022 than recent one-sided games.

Contesting 2023 World Cup qualifiers against much weaker opposition, the Lionesses won each of Wiegman’s first six games in charging, scoring 53 goals in the process and conceding none.

But the invitational Arnold Clark Cup, which began on Thursday night against Olympic champions Canada, is already asking the right sort of questions that will ultimately help England be better in the long-term as they head into Euro 2022 on home soil in the summer.

England started incredibly well against Canada, playing a really good opening 45 minutes, arguably their best half of football since finishing fourth at the 2019 World Cup. But the visitors then came back into it, bossing the second half and grabbing themselves a deserved 1-1 draw.

The Lionesses now face another tough test when they host Spain at Carrow Road on Sunday. The Spanish squad is flush with Barcelona players, including Ballon d’Or holder Alexia Putellas, and is likely to control possession for large part of the match.

“Since I’ve come in we’ve played games where we were in possession all the time. Although we did really well [previously], the pressure wasn’t as high as we expect from these upcoming games,” Wiegman said at her pre-match press conference.

“After these opponents, I’ll know better where we are as a team.

“In order to become better we need to be know where we are at this point; it will be good preparation for the Euros. We really need these games against a higher level of opposition.”

Wiegman has also confirmed that there will be changes to the team that started against Canada, which could include established stars Ellen White and Lucy Bronze coming into the XI.

“There will be some changes,” she explained. “We have the opportunity to try out some things because we have three games in six days. We want to see some things and develop our style of play. So far everyone is available.”

After facing Spain, England will finish the Arnold Clark Cup by hosting Germany at Molineux. The Germans are the most successful nation in the history of the European Championship and are currently FIFA’s highest ranked European nation – and second overall in the world.

For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter and Facebook!