Premier League

Sarina Wiegman explains why England’s clash with France isn’t a must-win fixture

England v France - UEFA Women's EURO 2025 Qualifier

Sarina Wiegman played down the significance of England’s clash against France on Tuesday night despite sitting just third in their UEFA Women’s Euro 2025 qualifying group.

England‘s hopes of clinching top spot took a significant beating on Friday night when they were pipped 2-1 by France at St James’ Park. Sweden’s win over the Republic of Ireland in the other group game pushed Wiegman’s side down to third, albeit only on goal difference.

The new qualifying format, which is similar to that of the Nations League, means only the top two teams in each group across League A automatically qualify for next summer’s tournament in Switzerland. Those in third and fourth will need to contend two rounds of play-offs if they’re to secure a place.

England’s group consists of three teams inside the top six of FIFA’s world rankings, which makes their qualification far from guaranteed – even more so now they’ve dropped three points against their close rival.

Wiegman, however, painted a relaxed figure when she spoke to the media on Monday afternoon. While England always set out to win every game they play, the Dutch coach insisted they’re not focusing too intently on the table just yet.

England v France - UEFA Women's EURO 2025 Qualifier

England players huddle following their defeat to France on Friday night / George Wood/GettyImages

“We don’t calculate,” she told reporters. “We approach every game to win, but I totally understand what is being said.

“Of course, we know if we win we are in a much better place. We absolutely want to win, but if we don’t win, we still have an opportunity to qualify for the Euros.

“It’s not what we want, of course we want to top the group, but we [focus] on winning tomorrow.”

Friday’s setback on Tyneside has done little to dent the confidence of the England camp as they gear up for another huge game against France. Despite Beth Mead’s well-taken opening goal in the first half, the Lionesses’ vulnerabilities at set pieces were laid bare for all to see as Elisa De Almeida and Marie-Antoinette Katoto fired Les Bleues to a famous win.

Wiegman outlined what her side must do if they’re to right the wrongs of last week’s meeting, but emphasised the belief in the squad they can get a result.

“Of course, France is a very good team,” the England boss continued. “That’s what they showed with the power and pace they have in the team, we are aware of that.

“We really want to take out their strengths. We want to have the ball more than they do. Last Friday, we had some big opportunities which we couldn’t turn into…

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