Sarina Wiegman hailed for change that kickstarted England's World Cup campaign

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Sarina Wiegman hailed for change that kickstarted England
Sarina Wiegman hailed for change that kickstarted England's World Cup campaign

Sarina Wiegman has been saluted by the Lionesses for her courage and conviction.

The Dutch coach was rewarded for her changes ahead of the final Group D clash against China with a six-goal triumph that has given England a massive shot-in-the-arm. Following two spluttering opening displays, Wiegman’s side hit their straps in Adelaide, as Wiegman put Lauren James at the heart of their attacking play.

In so doing, she changed tactics - putting England’s World Cup hopes in the balance - as she veered away from the tried and trusted 4-3-3 formation which landed her the Euros. Instead, England roared into the last 16 as they hit over-drive.

Lucy Bronze, who was pushed into a wing-back role, said: “People expected us to do the same as we did at the Euros but I spoke to Sarina before the tournament and we were both saying this would be harder.

“It was never going to be the same, people wanted it to be, but it was never going to be. We’ve had to be adaptable. A lot of teams have studied England - they wanted to beat the European Champions.

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“We’ve shuffled things about and that keeps other teams on their toes. They don’t know what to expect now. It makes us unpredictable. And we need to be unpredictable, we needed to refresh things. You need that in the knock-out rounds.

Sarina Wiegman hailed for change that kickstarted England's World Cup campaignSarina Wiegman, Manager of England, looks on smiling at the 6-1 win over China (Photo by Naomi Baker)

“We’ve shown we are capable of changing, which I don’t think many outside of the group expected us to be able to do. It shows what a good manager Sarina is.

“In the Euros, we were about to keep the same team because everyone was fit and firing. We were very fortunate to have that. Other teams had misfortune with injuries last year but we have shown we can change things around when we have injuries and still be dangerous.”

Rachel Daly was another who was asked to vary her role. So far, the Yorkshire lass has played up front, as a left-back - and, on Tuesday night, she too operated as a wing-back.

The move was designed to allow James the freedom to get on the ball and express herself. Following two goals and three assists in a match-winning performance, the switch paid off spectacularly.

Others thrived, too. Daly and Bronze were two but Manchester United skipper Katie Zelem’s knowledge of her position and calmness on her World Cup debut is also worthy of mention. Daly said: “Sarina always says we are adaptable and that’s what we showed.

“It was a different formation, a different style, different personnel and dealing without Keira Walsh - it’s a big blow for us, massive blow. But other players came in and had to step in and did a great job. I think it was more of a team performance tonight, I think, from front to back.

"But Sarina showed she can deliver again on the big stage and have the bravery to make decisions like she did.”

Neil Moxley

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