Georgia Stanway Prepares For ‘Big-Girl Battle’ In Women’s Euro Final

Ahead of the eagerly-anticipated UEFA Women’s Euro final between England and Germany at a sold-out Wembley Stadium on Sunday, the Lionesses’ midfielder Georgia Stanway said “we need to stop talking about how big women’s football is getting and talk about how big it is.”

With one match to play, the tournament has shattered records for attendance and television viewing figures with the England players winning hearts and minds with their galvanising perfromances on the pitch and their exemplary actions off it.

With Sunday’s final expected to attract a capacity crowd of up to 87,000 on Sunday, the women’s game is set to break a 58-year-old UEFA attendance record in the men’s European Championship when 79,115 watched Spain defeat the Soviet Union at Estadio Bernabéu in Madrid.

Broadcast figures have been no less spectacular with a peak audience of 9.3 million watching England’s semi-final victory over Sweden on the BBC. In Germany, 12.18 million saw their national team’s semi-final win over France, a market share of 47.2%. It seems certain that Sunday’s final will break the United Kingdom record television audience for a women’s match set when a peak of 11.7 million watched the Lionesses’ Women’s World Cup semi-final defeat to the United States.

“That’s where we’re at now,” declared Stanway. “I think we need to stop talking about how big women’s football is getting and talk about how big it is. We’re just hitting new levels every single time. Even if England aren’t playing, the TV figures are ridiculous.”

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England’s Women will hope to succeed where the men’s team failed in last summer’s European Championship final. Stanway admitted that “quite a few of the England men have been in touch, just wishing us well and asking if they can have a ticket. ‘I’m sorry lads, we’re all sold out!’ They’ve been at us, giving us all the information that they can – obviously, they reached this point last year – and just making sure maybe we can do one better.”

Stanway, who will join FC Bayern Munich next season will come up against several of her future team-mates in Sunday’s final when the hosts take on the eight-time European champions. Austrian player Carina Wenninger joked ahead of their quarter-final meeting with Germany that her Bayern team-mates had cut her from their What’s App group.

However, Stanway admitted she had been in touch with some of her German counterparts. “Obviously over the past few weeks, I’ve been able to build good relationships with some of the German players. I’m going to be spending a decent amount of time with them in the future. We’ve had conversations, we’ve been spurring each other on. For me personally, I think these are the two best teams in the competition going into the final. So I think there’s always going to be that mutual respect.”

Stanway is set to come face-to-face with the 20-year-old Wolfsburg midfielder Lena Oberdorf, who has developed into the beating heart of the German team and already a member of the team’s player council negotiating team bonuses. Stopping her dictating the play could be the key to victory and Stanway is looking forward to the challenge.

“I’ve had quite a lot of comments from the girls about this. They said they’re looking forward to a big-girl battle to see who will come out on top. She’s a great player, she’s obviously so young but she’s got a lot of experience considering her age as well.”

A starter in all five games at the tournament so far, Stanway wasn’t in the team earlier in the season as Wiegman played captain Leah Williamson alongside Stanway’s Manchester City team-mate Keira Walsh in midfield. Having spent much of her club season being switched around various positions, Stanway reveals she initially felt she was not “in favour’ with her new national team coach and was actually told she would not be in the first eleven.

“To be totally honest with you, there was a moment when I was told I wasn’t (in the starting line-up). There was a moment I was told to keep going, keep going, try and close that gap, try and push the players she’d decided (to play). I don’t really know what moment changed that situation. There was no conversations afterwards as to why or about what happened. I think it was literally just down to the situation.”

Going into the final, both teams have lost players after positive Covid tests and despite playing on home soil, the threat of infection has meant the England players have had to stay within their Covid bubble for over a month.

Stanway explained “we’ve not seen our families since we had a send-off at St. George’s Park which was maybe six weeks ago now. This is week nine that we’ve been on camp. So yeah, it’s been a long process. People automatically think, because it’s a home tournament that families are in and out every day, you see them, but you don’t. Obviously that’s one of the hardest things to deal with.”

When asked who she was looking forward to seeing the most at the end of Sunday’s final, Stanway said. “I think my parents are definitely first in line, they’ve been to every single game. Obviously, it’s really hard because I can only speak to them from a distance. They’re in the stands and I’m trying to have a conversation with them. I just want to hug them. I’m massively excited to see my family on Sunday. Hopefully they won’t be too drunk when the game’s over!”