Premier League

5 things we learned from England’s bleak defeat to France in Euro 2025 qualifier

Sarina Wiegman, Leah Williamson

England’s hopes of qualifying for next summer’s European Championship in Switzerland suffered a major blow as they were beaten 2-1 by France on a frustrating night at St James’ Park.

A win would have seen the Lionesses leapfrog France in the standings, but instead they have dropped to third after Sweden comfortably beat the Republic of Ireland 3-0 elsewhere.

Beth Mead gave England the lead in the first-half, but two set-piece goals from Elisa De Almeida and Marie-Antoinette Katoto turned the game on its head and firmly in France’s favour.

The Lionesses do have an opportunity to right the wrongs in a few days time when they face Herve Renard’s side again in Saint-Etienne on Tuesday night. However, pressure is certainly mounting as the current European champions have it all to do in their three remaining qualifiers.

Here’s a look at five things we learned from Friday’s defeat against Les Bleues…

Sarina Wiegman, Leah Williamson

Leah Williamson after England’s defeat to France / Stu Forster/GettyImages

For the first time in over a year, Leah Williamson and Millie Bright lined up as England’s centre-back pairing, after injuries had resulted in both having extended spells on the sidelines. While their availability comes as a major boost for Wiegman, it was clear they weren’t at their formidable best.

It can be argued they need to play themselves into form and injuries elsewhere, including to left-back Niamh Charles and centre-back Lotte Wubben-Moy, limit the manager’s options in that area of the pitch. However, Alex Greenwood is probably England’s most in-form defender at present and for some reason the Manchester City star was confined to the bench.

Whether Wiegman switches things up next time against France remains to be seen, but the defensive vulnerabilities that have plagued England’s performances since the World Cup were laid bare.

Mary Earps

Mary Earps was forced off with an injury just minutes into the game / Stu Forster/GettyImages

A lot has been made of the gruelling and intense schedule for quite some time. England technically have a summer off with no major tournament to contend, but with a spot at Euro 2025 in Switzerland at stake, it is still a hugely important period for Wiegman and her players.

However, they may have to finish their qualifying campaign without number one goalkeeper, Mary Earps. The Manchester United stopper was forced off with a painful looking hip injury inside just the opening ten minutes at St James’ Park.

Earps went down after appearing to pull something when she…

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