England women’s first game at Wembley was played against Germany in front of a record 45,619 crowd back in November 2014.
Despite some 55,000 tickets being sold – a figure capped by The Football Association due to Transport for London‘s ill-timed engineering works – some 10,000 opted out of braving the torrential downpours on the day.
But on Saturday the two sides meet again, and this time we’re expecting a full-house with almost 90,000 tickets sold for the Lionesses’ historic tie.
England women’s first game at Wembley was played against Germany in front 45,619 people
England lost 3-0 to two-time world champions Germany in that fixture five years ago, having been undone with three first half strikes.
But despite the result and being outclassed in some fashion, there was not much by the way of consequences for then manager Mark Sampson.
‘The players who played in that game still feel hurt by that performance,’ said England boss Phil Neville. ‘They were in a similar position to we are now – everything was rosy, [interest in] the women’s game was going up and then we got beat.
‘I’ve seen the goals – and I had a laugh about it with Lucy Bronze, well, not a laugh, because we lost – but we’re at a similar moment now, just on a grander scale.’
And with that grander scale comes grander expectations. With the pressure intensifying around Neville, shaking off a set-back may not be as easy as it was for his predecessor.
The England manager has guided his team to just one win since the 3-0 win over Norway in the quarter-final stages of the FIFA Women’s World Cup this summer.
Despite some 55,000 tickets being sold, some 10,000 opted out of braving the rain on the day
England lost 3-0 to two-time world champions Germany in that fixture five years ago
Almost in preparation for what the critics would say is ‘inevitable’ – the former Manchester United defender has been quick to establish his sides’ underdog status.
He even took the opportunity of reminding the press this week that his side trail Germany – a team now in transition – by three places in the FIFA World Rankings – despite the Lionesses progressing further in France this summer.
‘Germany have been really under the radar,’ said Neville. ‘Since I got the job we have played them in the She Believes Cup and nobody really spoke about them. We went to the World Cup and again, nobody spoke about them and they got knocked out by Sweden.
But we’re playing the second-best team in the world, they’re the favourites for the game’ said Neville after admitting losing to their old foes would be a tougher result than most to digest.
On a recent scouting mission to Lyon with his assistant Bev Priestman to check on the progress of England quartet Lucy Bronze, Nikita Parris, Alex Greenwood and Izzy Christiansen, Neville admits it was Germany captain and playmaker Dzsenifer Marozsán who captured his gaze.
Phil Neville insists the players who featured in that game are still hurt by the…