England vs Brazil, 2023 Women’s Finalissima: preview, team news, head-to-head stats
England and Brazil meet at Wembley on Thursday, as the champions of Europe and South America face off in the first ever Women’s Finalissima.
“When I was young, I didn’t even have [women’s] players to look up to - it was Cruyff, Pelé and Beckenbauer,” Pia Sundhage told reporters yesterday, as she looked ahead to the first ever Finalissima in the history of women’s soccer.
Today, Brazil’s Swedish head coach leads the South American champions into a keenly-anticipated clash with England, the European title holders, at Wembley Stadium. Sundhage, who back in 1989 became the first woman to score a goal at the legendary London arena, will be met by stands that are packed to the rafters - the Finalissima is a sell-out.
“This is the time of my life”
There’s room for as many as 90,000 spectators at the new Wembley, which was also the stage - with just over 80,000 present - when a US side coached by Sundhage won the gold-medal match at the 2012 Olympics. The 63-year-old’s relationship with the ground can only be described as a love story.
While Sundhage can look back on several special memories at Wembley, however, she says it doesn’t get any better for her than the here and now. “Today you can mention a lot of great players who are great role models as well, and [you can mention great] coaches as well,” she told her pre-match press conference. “So this is the time of my life.”
A true pioneer of women’s soccer, Sundhage will come up against another of the game’s history-making coaches: Sarina Wiegman. The Dutchwoman, who has been in charge of England since September 2021, won the Euros with the Netherlands in 2017, before repeating the feat with the Lionesses last year - achievements that have helped her to pick up three FIFA Best Women’s Coach awards so far (in 2017, 2020 and 2022).
No Mead or Marta at Wembley
Both Wiegman and Sundhage will send out their strongest possible XIs - with both marked by notable, enforced absences. For England, Beth Mead is unavailable as she recovers from a torn anterior cruciate ligament. For Brazil, the legendary Marta has returned to action after her serious injury at the SheBelieves Cup in March 2022, but the 37-year-old won’t be involved at Wembley because of a hamstring injury.
England vs Brazil: H2H
Today’s match-up in the UK capital will be the fourth meeting between England and Brazil. The previous three clashes brought two English victories - 1-0 in October 2018 and 2-1 in February 2019 - and one for the Verdeamarela (a 2-1 win in October 2019).