England fans head to parks to cheer on team ahead of Euro semi-final

Roaring the Lionesses home! England supporters head to fan parks to cheer on women’s team as they head into crunch Euro 2022 semi-final clash with Sweden

  • England boss Sarina Wiegman has called on fans to roar her side to victory with record audience predicted
  • The Lionesses look to end their semi-final curse against Sweden after late win over Spain 2-1 in quarter-final 
  • Tens of thousands of supporters are expected fill up fan zones and watch the clash on big screens in parks
  • Where are you watching the match? Send your pictures and stories to [email protected] 

English football fans have began to gather in Sheffield ahead of the Euro 2022 semi-final this evening, with tens of thousands headed to the city centre and nearby parks to watch the big game.

Fans also took to social media to give their support and some charted their journeys across the country to South Yorkshire because they are among the lucky 32,050 people with tickets for the match at Bramall Lane.

With kick-off at 8pm, England fans seemed to be leaving it a little later to begin their pre-match rituals, but two fan parks in the city are expected to be crammed with the match screened live on Devonshire Green.

Large crowds have also amassed more than 100 miles away at London’s Trafalgar Square fan zone, with hundreds bringing their flags and deck chairs. 

England fans including David Beckham and Michael Owen are backing their team to win with a record 14million expected to watch the Lionesses’ clash with Sweden tonight and supporters are expected to spend £100million on food, booze and merchandise.

Every hotel room in Sheffield has reported to have been snapped up for the much-anticipated Euro clash.

Division Street in the city centre has also been crammed with blue and yellow shirts today as around 1,500 Sweden fans have made their presence known by loudly singing alongside a relentless bass drum. 

Swedish sisters Caroline and Ida Gunnarsson, 24 and 17, were leading the partying outside the Frog and Parrot pub.

Caroline said: ‘It amazing here. We are loving it.

‘The English people are just amazing.’

Jonny Spence, 24, from Barnsley, said: ‘They’re outsinging us now but it’ll be different come kick-off.’

England fans make their way to the stadium ahead of the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 semi-final match at Bramall Lane, Sheffield

More than 30,000 people will be watching the clash between England and Sweden this evening

The England squad have inspected the pitch ahead of the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 semi final

Manager Sarina Wiegman has named an unchanged England team for the fifth game running

Tens of thousands of England supporters have headed to fan parks across the country for the Euro semi-final game against Sweden this evening

Young England supporter Amelia Sowden is ready to watch the clash against Sweden inside the Fan zone

A family of supporters from Taughton inside the Fan zone today hours before the big game

Reece Cox from Sheffield is wearing an England wig and badges on his face while in the fan zone

Swedish fans have been singing and drinking in the centre of Sheffield before kick-off

Sweden fans soak up the atmosphere at Devonshire Green before UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 semi-final match between England and Sweden

A huge screen will be showing the game for football fans inside the Sheffield fan zone later this evening

Fans enjoy the fan zone in Trafalgar Square in London ahead of the crucial match against Sweden in the Euros

England fans gathered outside Bramal stadium, where the game will be played, to see the team coach arrive

Swedish fans have started their march towards the stadium, carrying a large supportive banner

A young fan takes a selfie in front of an old bus covered with England flags inside a fan zone

Fixtures at Bramall Lane so far in the tournament have already set new records for group stage matches not involving the host, with 21,342 attending Sweden’s clash with Holland and 22,596 witnessing their victory over Switzerland.

Sheffield City Council estimates 7,500 international fans have attended fixtures in the city and that footfall was up by 22%, more than 10,000, on the Saturday of the opening fixture in Sheffield.

It said the economic impact for the city, which has put its hat in the ring to host next year’s Eurovision Song Contest, is expected to be around £3 million.

Team boss Sarina Wiegman has called on supporters to roar her side to victory as they look to end their major  semi-final curse in Sheffield this evening.

A full house is expected at Bramall Lane while tens of thousands of people will flood to cheer on the Lionesses at fan zones up and down England including in Trafalgar Square with Michael Owen among the chorus of stars wishing them luck. 

An ‘excited’ and tanned David Beckham recorded a video from what appeared to be his yacht in Saint-Tropez – where he is holidaying with Victoria and their children – and thanked the team for inspiring millions of girls including his daughter Harper, 11, who he said would be ‘watching tonight’.

The vast majority will watch at home and are predicted to spend £100million – including £90million on food and booze at major supermarkets to enjoy during the match.

After an extra time win over Spain last week, England face the Swedes in Sheffield with 14million viewers predicted to tune in on BBC1 for kick off at 8pm. It would be a record for women’s football in the UK and the team are favourites to reach the final. 

A report by VoucherCodes.co.uk predicts that as well as spending £90million on food and drink, fans will also spend £7million on official kit, £2.8million on other merchandise and more than £1million on a new for the final at Wembley on Sunday.

Waitrose have said the biggest sellers ahead of the big match have not been beer and crisps like before a England men’s match. Instead shoppers have plumped for popcorn and rosé wine. Rosé sales have spiked during the tournament and all top three selling wines are pink this week. 

David Beckham is among the big names to wish England’s Lionesses well in their Euro 2022 semi-final match with Sweden tonight

David and Harper together with sea urchins on their yacht in Croatia last week. Father and daughter will be cheering on England later

Ella Toone celebrates after scoring her sides first goal during the UEFA Women’s Euro England 2022 Quarter Final match between England and Spain, which her team won in extra time

Michael Owen was among those tweeting support for the Lionesses in their big match tonight 

Daniel Campbell and his daughter hit the road for their 350 mile round trip to tonight’s big match

Sam Mason and his saughter are also driving four hours to Sheffield to be at Bramall Lane for 8pm

The Crawley ‘Old Girls’ stopped for a break and a photo at a service station on the way to Sheffield

Dogs and their owners also took to Twitter to cheer on the Lionesses

Hollie Agombar is all set for the game with a pub set up in her garden

Charlotte Campbell is performing at the fan fest in Trafalgar Square, which will be packed later

This group of pensioners enjoyed a kick about today ahead of the semi-final

The England flag is raised at the British embassy in Berlin

England supporters at the Brighton fanzone last week. This one and others are expected tp be packed tonight

Millie Bright and Ellen White of England pose for a photograph during an England training session yesterday as Keira Walsh celebrated a goal

A mural dedicated to England forward Fran Kirby is displayed on the Kirby Estate in Bermondsey ahead of the big match

The last three tournaments have all ended in defeat at the same stage but Wiegman insisted they are not focusing on the past as they look to book their place at Wembley for the Euros final.

‘I think it’s necessary to be in the now,’ Sarina Wiegman said. ‘I do think you always have to learn from the experience and take out the things it takes to become better, to learn. But it’s no use now to talk about that all the time.

England boss Sarina Wiegman has called on supporters to roar the Lionesses to victory

‘The England team is ready to play the best game tomorrow against Sweden and hopefully inspire the nation.

‘I think it’s going to be a very tight game. They are number two in the FIFA rankings. We know they’ve performed really well over the last years, they’ve always performed well in the women’s game.

‘Reaching the semi-final has been really great already, we saw that we brought a lot of inspiration, but I think our fans gave us a lot of inspiration too.

‘I hope they’re going to bring us lots of energy again. It was really an extra dimension what we got at our last games. That’s really exciting and we hope we’re going to make them proud again.’

There will be live screenings of England’s semi-final in Trafalgar Square and various fan parks up and down the country. Millie Bright, who has played in England’s last two semi-final defeats, said the support from the home crowd has been crucial.

‘It’s the response that we’ve been looking for and that we’ve wanted in the women’s game. I think in this tournament the crowd has been unbelievable. It shows the growth of the game and the direction we want to continue in.’

While a calm Wiegman and Bright batted away questions on the importance of tonight’s game, Sweden came out firing as they criticised UEFA for their use of VAR at the tournament.

Peter Gerhardsson’s side had goals disallowed for offside against Switzerland and Belgium, but former Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson claimed the VAR lines had been drawn incorrectly.

‘If you’re talking about the complaint that our staff made it’s obvious, we haven’t seen it ourselves but a Swedish referee at home in a studio pointed out that they drew the line incorrectly,’ Gerhardsson said.

‘My feeling is sometimes we put too much trust in VAR, you don’t know until the ref whistles ‘game on’ if it’s a goal or not. We’re going to have to hope that they’ve looked at improving themselves for the semi-final tomorrow..’ Sweden also claimed that UEFA are using 50 percent less cameras than are in operation for the men’s game.

More than 14million may watch the game at home and tens of thousands more will go out tonight to watch on big screens

The Lionesses are expecting a tough game against No.2 ranked Sweden in the semi-finals

Forward Kosovre Asllani said: ‘Using 50% fewer cameras in our tournament than in the men’s game, that’s a catastrophe really because the decisions can’t be made with the same precision, so it’s not just for us, there are other teams, there are situations where you should have more cameras and it can be really decisive.’

Families are split over the match due to the links between the two teams. 

Damion Potter, 47, said he will be the ‘lone person in the England shirt’ as he prepares to watch the game while on holiday visiting his wife Susanna’s extended family in Jonkoping, Sweden.

The former diplomat told the PA news agency: ‘We still need to work out a bet between my wife and myself but so far we’re thinking someone has to jump in the river for whichever team loses.

‘I will be cheering for England and hoping the Lionesses go all the way.

‘Everybody else, except for me and possibly my kids depending on the result, will be cheering for Sweden so I shall be the lone person in the England shirt.

‘May the best team win.’

Despite the couple’s competitiveness, the pressure is off their three children Elliot, 18, Zackary, 17, and 14-year-old Maya.

Mr Potter said: ‘When England played Sweden in the men’s World Cup in 2016, it was funny watching our three kids initially cheering for Sweden and by the end of it all three of them were cheering for England.

‘The good news for my kids is that whoever wins in the semi final, they’re going to have a team in the final.’

For the Potter family, football has always created memorable events – even with the family rivalry.

Mr and Mrs Potter have been married 21 years and on the day of their wedding in November 2001 England played against Sweden.

The game ended with a one-all draw which Mr Potter described as a ‘good diplomatic result’.

Despite being a sports fan since the age of 10, it was after the birth of his first child that Mr Potter watched his first women’s World Cup.

He said: ‘My eldest son was born at the end of September 2003, two weeks before the World Cup and wasn’t sleeping at night so I did the night shift and ended up watching almost every game.

‘The player who won the golden boot that year was Sweden’s Victoria Svensson and she did the maintenance job in the British embassy in Stockholm where I also worked.

‘After that, I was hooked on women’s and men’s football, especially for the big tournaments.’

Mr Potter added that he hopes the ‘momentum and excitement’ around the women’s games will continue in the future.

‘It’s no longer like when I was at school, where there weren’t many women or girls who would play football,’ he said.

‘It’s important for me as a father with teenage boys and a 14-year-old daughter that she’s able to play football at school.

‘I mean, there’s still a long way to go but I’m really pleased that in the UK we’re seeing this year’s Euros on primetime television, the back pages are showing the lionesses doing well, and the stadiums are full around the UK.

‘I think it helps that we’re hosts but I hope that that carries on just like it has with all this momentum and excitement.’

The captain is one half of football’s lesbian ‘power couple’, their forward is the daughter of Kosovan migrants… and they are managed by a former PE teacher! Meet the Sweden team standing in the way of England’s women and the Euro 2022 final

Sweden are the team standing in the way of England and their first major final since 2009.

The Lionesses have fallen at the semi-final stage of the last three tournaments, with defeat against the United States in the 2019 World Cup, the Netherlands at Euro 2017 and Japan in the 2015 World Cup.

With home advantage on their side, England will be slight favourites going into Tuesday night’s game. But the Swedes are the highest ranked team in the competition and will provide Sarina Wiegman’s side with their toughest test so far.

Magdalena Eriksson and Pernille Harder shared a kiss after Sweden had beaten Canada at the 2019 World Cup in France

The pair have since gone on to establish themselves as icons on and off the pitch

Sweden are the team standing in the way of England and their first major final since 2009

With home advantage on their side, England will be slight favourites on Tuesday night

Sweden finished third at the 2019 World Cup and second at the Tokyo Olympics last year, so will be desperate to go one step further this summer.

While they perhaps lack a standout name, the Swedes are arguably the most well-rounded team in the competition. They are organised, physical and efficient in their attacking play.

There are also plenty of familiar faces in the Sweden squad, with seven players currently playing in the Women’s Super League. Chelsea defender and captain Magdalena Eriksson is their leader and rock at the back. 

Eriksson’s partner Pernille Harder, the Denmark and Chelsea forward, may be in the stands to show moral support. Harder’s Denmark narrowly missed out on a place in the knockouts, with a 1-0 defeat by Spain in their final group game.

Lauded as one of football’s ‘power couples’, Harder and Eriksson have been in a relationship since 2014 and have established themselves as icons on and off the pitch.

The couple’s on-pitch kiss at the 2019 World Cup in France – which went viral on social media – instantly became a hugely symbolic moment for the sport and the LGBT community.

‘Neither me or Pernille had an objective to become gay role models,’ Eriksson told Forbes in an interview in 2020.

‘We were just quite open from the start when we started seeing each other. From then on, we’ve both had successful careers, we both became role models and well-known names. It just kind of happened. 

‘It has been important for us not to hide something and just to be ourselves. To show people, that is how it should be. That’s how we want the world to be. We want people to be themselves and that’s how we want to be as well.’

‘I didn’t know there was a photographer there, so I didn’t even know about the photo,’ Harder later said. ‘It was just a quick kiss after a match, like we’d done other times after other matches.

Harder and Eriksson have been in a relationship since 2014 and continue to blaze a trail for the sport

‘This time there was a camera and one thing led to another, the photo appeared on social media and there were loads of comments, the majority very positive.

‘It made us realise that we are role models, not just in football but in other ways. It is something we have accepted because we know we are lucky to feel safe and relaxed being in a relationship which is public knowledge.

‘If we can help other people to be themselves, we want to do so.’ In the latest example of the pair embracing their profile, they released a short film entitled ‘Love Always Wins’ in March.

Eriksson’s Sweden team-mate Kosovare Asllani also feels like she is a role model, but for very different reasons as one of the few Albanian footballers at the top level of the women’s game. 

She is the daughter of Kosovan migrants who emigrated to Sweden, and Asllani has been keen to ensure she remembers her family roots. 

Her first name – literally meaning ‘girl from Kosovo’ – is an example of that while she has a tattoo of the double-headed black eagle of Albania on her ankle. It has helped her become the poster girl for Sweden’s immigrant communities.

Kosovare Asllani is the daughter of Kosovan migrants who emigrated to Sweden

‘I definitely feel like a role model,’ she told Morning Star Online in 2017. ‘I get a lot of messages. My parents tell me young people really look up to me because I’m one of the few Albanian footballers in the women’s game that reached the top level.

‘I was born in Sweden, but at the same time I’m really proud of my heritage, that my parents are born and raised in Kosovo, I’m both Albanian and Swedish.

‘I grew up with a family that have shown me how people in Kosovo listen to Albanian music. I love it. We’re not a bad country.’

Meanwhile, fellow forward and Arsenal striker Stina Blackstenius leads the Swedish frontline. 

Blackstenius started playing football with her older brother Oscar in a team her father Magnus managed, and it was not until she turned 15 that she decided to football was the career she wanted to pursue.

Her first name – literally meaning ‘girl from Kosovo’ – is an example of her not wanting to forget her roots

Blackstenius is a pacy and skilful forward with an eye for goal, though she has had a number of strikes ruled out for marginal offsides.

There are also threats from midfield. Manchester City’s Filippa Angeldahl was on the scoresheet twice against Portugal while Everton’s Hanna Bennison scored a stunning strike in the victory over Switzerland. Bennison helped change the game in Sweden’s narrow victory over Belgium and could be a potential match-winner.

Sweden manager Peter Gerhardsson is the man bringing it all together after a diverse career in the game.

After scoring 70 goals during his professional career, his coaching journey began as a PE teacher at a football school for high-school students 

After that, he was recruited to coach the Sweden national team at various youth levels, before chances arrived to be an assistant coach in both the men’s and women’s game.

Eventually, he became the head coach of BK Hacken in the Swedish men’s top flight league, before taking the women’s national team coach role in 2017, leading them to third place at the World Cup three years ago. 

Meanwhile, fellow forward and Arsenal striker Stina Blackstenius leads the Swedish frontline

Now he believes his squad’s experience of the WSL will help them to overcome the Lionesses on Tuesday night.

‘I think we are very difficult to beat physically,’ Gerhardsson said after his side’s quarter-final win over Belgium,

‘We also have some players in our squad who play in England at club level so they know what it’s about. That experience is going to be very important.

‘They know what they are going to meet because they play them regularly in the league. For me, that experience will be very important.’

Barcelona forward Fridonlina Rolfo, who can also play as an attacking left-wing back, is another threat England must be wary of and she may look to target England’s right flank should Lucy Bronze get drawn out of position.

But Bronze, who will join up with Rolfo at Barcelona next season, is well aware of the forward’s strengths.

Sweden manager Peter Gerhardsson started his coaching career as a high school PE teacher

‘I think she scored and assisted in over 15 goals or assists throughout the season,’ Bronze said. 

‘I do know my stats and I do know a lot about her, probably more than some of the people watching the tournament. [She’s] a player that’s capable of playing left back so well and being able to play left wing, she’s going to be a threat both in attack and defence, which is not always the nicest wingers to play up against when they actually know how to defend properly.

‘It’s a player I’ve played up against many times. Previously when we were both Lyon and Wolfsburg, we had kind of a little battle on the side a few times. I’m excited to play against her and then also play with her in a couple of weeks time as well.’

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