Sarina Wiegman: It’s easy to say that the pressure is on England

Counterpart Martin Sjogren has claimed Norway are definite underdogs in Monday’s clash.

By Press Association Published: 10 July 2022 - 7.05pm

England boss Sarina Wiegman has disputed the suggestion that all the pressure is on the Lionesses ahead of Monday’s clash with Norway in Brighton.

Wiegman’s counterpart Martin Sjogren said in his pre-match press conference at the Amex Stadium that he felt Norway were “definitely” the underdogs going into the Group A meeting with the Euros hosts, adding: “I think England is one of the big favourites for the tournament.

“I think England feels quite a lot of pressure from being at home, being one of the favourites.”

Wiegman with Norway head coach Martin Sjogren (right) at the Euros draw last October (Nick Potts/PA).
Wiegman with Norway head coach Martin Sjogren (right) at the Euros draw last October (Nick Potts/PA).

Wiegman’s press conference followed, and when she was asked about Sjogren’s comments and if it was fair to say all the pressure was on England, she said: “I don’t think so.

“I think Norway has to win too, to be top of the group. We want to win. It’s easy to say that the pressure is on.

“We know what we want – we want to play our best game, to entertain, and of course to win games. Our next game is tomorrow against Norway, so we want to win that game, and that is what we are talking about – develop our style of play, play our best game, do our best, and then we see what that brings us.”

England defender Millie Bright said: “We know what to expect from these games, it’s tournament football, there’s always going to be pressure, that’s just the element of playing in a major tournament.

“I think Norway has to win too, to be top of the group. We want to win. It's easy to say that the pressure is on”
- Sarina Wiegman

“But like Sarina said, our focus remains on ourselves and being fully prepared, which we are and ready for the battle tomorrow.”

England – three places above Norway in the world rankings at eighth – opened their Euros campaign with a 1-0 win over Austria last Wednesday at Old Trafford, with a competition-record crowd of 68,871 in attendance.

Sjogren, whose team beat Northern Ireland 4-1 at St Mary’s the next day, also on Sunday said he thought “there was a lot of nerves playing into” England’s performance in Manchester.

Asked about that, Wiegman said: “Again, you’re talking about someone who is saying something about us, who hasn’t been with the team and the process, but that’s OK – and it’s nice that they’re trying to put pressure on us. We’re just working on our game and how we want to play.

Millie Bright says England are
Millie Bright says England are “ready for the battle” with Norway (Nigel French/PA).

“I think the occasion last Wednesday was enormous. There were 70,000 people, it was the first game, we went into that game and had been preparing for it for months.

“We had some different stages in the game. I think overall this was a great accomplishment to win 1-0. I think we take some things, that we had moments where we played really well, and I think we had moments where we lost the ball a little too fast. But overall a great performance, and that’s what we take from that to our game tomorrow.”

She added: “If they want to be the underdog, that’s fine. I think they have a very strong squad, and we do too, so I expect an open match and we’ll see where it goes.”

The biggest star name in Norway’s squad is Lyon forward Ada Hegerberg, who earlier this year ended a self-imposed exile from her national side, having stepped away from it in 2017 unhappy at how women’s football was being run in the country.

Norway have Ada Hegerberg back in their squad (Nick Potts/PA).
Norway have Ada Hegerberg back in their squad (Nick Potts/PA).

Wiegman said: “We’ve analysed them of course. They have a good team, and they have Hegerberg back. Having a personality and a player like that on big stages is very good, and good for the women’s game.

“We also think they have some weaknesses, and we hope to exploit that.”

Chelsea centre-back Bright said of Hegerberg: “She’s a top player, I think everyone’s aware of her strengths and how she plays in a game.

“But it’s just another opponent to take care of and defend against, and as defenders we love that challenge, it’s something we thrive off.”

Defender Lotte Wubben-Moy, having tested positive for coronavirus, is the only player in England’s squad unavailable for the game.

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