By Nick Mulvenney
SYDNEY (Reuters) – England will have to produce the game of their lives if they are to make history by beating Spain in the Women’s World Cup final to secure a first global title, captain Millie Bright said on Saturday.
Bright said the significance of Sunday’s match, both for the players and an expectant nation, was not lost on the European champions but that they would prepare as if it was any other game.
“I think for us we live in the moment,” the centre half told reporters at Stadium Australia.
“And yes, it’s a World Cup final but for us our mentality is it’s another game. Our preparations don’t change no matter the stage in a tournament and to me that’s key.
“We’ve got a game plan that we have to go out and execute but I think everyone knows how big this is. I think it’s been players’ dreams for years.
“We know how passionate our nation is back home and how they’d want us to win, but for us it’s a process, we have a game plan to execute and … we need to play the game of our lives.”
The calm professionalism that Bright exuded on the eve of the biggest match of her career was perhaps a reflection of the style of coach Sarina Wiegman, who led England to their first major title at last year’s Euros.
“As a team, we express ourselves and we have the confidence to do that,” Bright added.
“We don’t fear making mistakes and for me that is the biggest thing. Football is such a beautiful thing but I think maybe when you play it a little bit hesitant, you don’t see the best in people.
“For me, with Sarina coming in we’ve had a real shift in confidence.”
Wiegman led her native Netherlands to the 2019 final, where they lost to the United States, but she said Sunday was “a whole new situation”.
“It’s not 2019, it’s 2023 and I think England is in a very good place,” she said.
“Everyone’s fit, we grew in the tournament, we grew in confidence. We just hope that we play our best game ever tomorrow and everyone is going to enjoy it.”
There was shift in Wiegman’s usual openness when she was quizzed about whether she would start Lauren James on Sunday with the forward having completed a two-game ban for stamping on an opponent in the last 16 contest against Nigeria.
“She’s good,” the coach said. “Of course, she kept training and it’s really nice to have 23 players available for tomorrow.”
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford)
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