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England great Rachel Yankey on the Spain game and more – interview

"Do you know what? I think England will win it," the ex-England forward told the official Women's EURO TikTok page as she looked ahead to the Spain game, though she felt Germany and Sweden might have a say when it comes to who wins the tournament.

Rachel Yankey: "On their day, England could beat any team."
Rachel Yankey: "On their day, England could beat any team." UEFA via Getty Images

Ahead of the UEFA Women's EURO 2022 quarter-final against Spain, former England forward Rachel Yankey spoke to the @womensfootball team. The 42-year-old was a star performer on the wing for England, played at home at Women's EURO 2005, and believes the current side are in with a chance of taking the top prize this time.

Have England surprised you or were you expecting it?

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I don't think anyone was expecting the Norway score, to be honest! But no, pleasantly surprised with how the team has played. I think in the first game, it was important to just get a win. You want to get points on the board and then grow in confidence.

The second game, we caught Norway on a particularly bad day; we were very good, and the girls performed excellently. Obviously, that builds confidence and momentum for the rest of the tournament. And Northern Ireland is always a hard game because it's Home Nations battling it out. So yeah, I've been really pleased. But Spain next for England, that's a different challenge but one I'm looking forward to watching.

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England are one of the favourites and I wondered if there was a difference that comes with that pressure.

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I suppose they have been tipped as favourites but then a lot of other teams are as well. You've still got Sweden, France, the Netherlands still up there, definitely Germany; they can all challenge and they could all quite easily win this.

I think there is expectation but, because Sarina Wiegman has come in as the new manager, I think there's probably not as much expectation as if she'd been there for a few years. Then everybody would be like, 'you have to win it'. I think now it's just 'you know it would be great if England could win it'.

Who has impressed you the most so far?

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Beth Mead has been fantastic, she's taken her form from Arsenal and just run with it into this tournament. There's been so many players to be quite honest. I think the whole front line and we've all got our fingers crossed and hoping that Ellen White can get some more goals to break more records. Equally, at the back, Millie Bright. She's been fantastic, she's a rock. I don't think our back line has been tested yet so there's going to be more to come from those guys at the back.

I think against Northern Ireland and probably Norway, I thought it was Georgia Stanway that really changed the momentum of the game. So I think everybody has taken their opportunity really well.

How far do you think England can go?

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The heart and head say different things. You know I get worried because you don't want to talk too much. The way that they've been playing I definitely think that on their day they could beat any team. With the home support, they could go to that final at Wembley Stadium and win that. That would be absolutely unbelievable.

But then there's Germany, there's France, there's the Netherlands, Sweden. There are some top teams in there so it'll be difficult, but I think we're talented enough to be able to do it.

Who do you think is England's biggest competitor?

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Germany have looked really, really strong. The Germany of old were just the team to beat and we could never beat them, they were just so awesome. This Germany side is different to that but still, they're very talented, very well drilled and a very good team, so I think them. I think Sweden are very balanced and I don't think we've seen the best of Sweden yet, which is always a worry when a team is getting through.

I feel confident that we could go and beat Spain. I don't know if I should say that, but I feel confident. I think the Spanish team are really good technical footballers but they do have injuries. Score prediction? I think England will win it. I'm going to go 2-0. I don't think it will be a runaway. I think it will be quite close. I think Spain will have lots of opportunities, but I think we could win 2-0.

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