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England prepare for the battle before Euro with international heavyweights Canada, Germany and Spain

AFTER beating three of the lowest ranked teams in world football, the Lionesses face more equal opponents in the Arnold Clark Cup.

No team is bigger than Canada, Germany and Spain, with the latter two of this summer’s women’s Euro championship contenders.

England will play Canada in their first match at the Arnold Clark Cup

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England will play Canada in their first match at the Arnold Clark CupCredit: Getty

The tournament has been billed as a warm-up before the Euros for Sarina Wiegman’s aces to see how they play against three of the top 10 teams in the world.

And Lionesses The boss will use it to map out his plans to win the European Championship for England at home.

The last time the national team reached a major tournament final was at the Euros in Finland 13 years ago.

That year Hope Powell’s trump card was beaten 6-2 to six-time tournament champion Germany.

And since Powell started 11th in that game, only Jill Scott, 35, is left on the team now overlooked by Leah Williamson.

The Lionesses’ first game at the Arnold Clark Cup, which takes place in England from February 17-23, will see them face Canada on Thursday night.

The 7:30pm clash at Riverside Stadium comes after Germany’s showdown with Spain on the field at 2:30pm.

England then played Spain at Carrow Road and then Germany at Molineux.

Ahead of their clash here, let’s take a look back at some of the league’s talents and recent form for England and their opponents.

Leah Williamson, 24, returns as England captain after returning to fitness following a hamstring injury

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Leah Williamson, 24, returns as England captain after returning to fitness following a hamstring injuryCredit: Getty

England team under Sarina Wiegman

The Lionesses have enjoyed a six-match winning streak since the 52-year-old Dutch head coach took over in September last year.

They have had 53 clean sheets in all their matches

Results included an 8-0 loss to North Macedonia and a 10-0 loss to Luxembourg and Latvia – three teams outside the world’s top 100.

Germany, Spain and a Canadian Olympic gold medalist would have far different prospects

Like the Lionesses, the trio are currently listed among Fifa’s top ten teams with Germany and Canada placing third and sixth in the world’s best teams.

While England have beaten some of the least experienced teams in the world, their recent results against top 10 teams are a slightly different story.

He is yet to concede a goal since Sarina Wiegman took charge and has kept six clean sheets

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He is yet to concede a goal since Sarina Wiegman took charge and has kept six clean sheetsCredit: PA

Before Wiegman’s arrival, the Lionesses had suffered defeats to Spain, France and Canada over a 13-month period.

The last ten teams they face are Bev Priestman’s Canadian ace in April at Stoke’s Britannia Stadium.

And while England enjoyed most of the possession, they lost 2-0 with the second goal due to the error of goalkeeper Karen Bardsley.

Players should watch: Lauren Hemp

The City of Manchester The winger, 21, has impressed for club and country over the past two seasons with 11 goals in 26 WSL games.

Her quick pace and powerful dribbles have made her a formidable opponent for opponents in England’s top tier.

And the Norfolk-born player has flourished since recovering from a hamstring injury that kept her out from mid-September until November 2020.

Lauren Hemp scored four goals for England in a record-breaking 20-0 win over Latvia

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Lauren Hemp scored four goals for England in a record-breaking 20-0 win over LatviaCredit: Getty

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The forward, who has made 12 international caps, has scored four goals since making his Lionesses debut in a friendly defeat against Portugal in October 2019.

Last season, Hemp won the PFA Young Player of the Year award for the second time in a row after helping City take the race to the WSL title.

Canada

Canada enjoyed Olympic glory last August when it won the women’s soccer tournament at matches in Tokyo.

Since October 2020, the team has been coached by Bev Priestman, 35, who took over her role after two years as England’s assistant under Phil Neville.

After consecutive bronze medals in 2012 and 2016, the team won a gold medal at Tokyo Olympics after winning the penalty shootout against Sweden.

And they have defeated the World Cup champion team USA 4 times in the semi-finals of the competition.

Canada won the Tokyo Olympics last August four months after beating England in a friendly in April.

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Canada won the Tokyo Olympics last August four months after beating England in a friendly in April.Credit: Getty

Canada have lost just four of their last 17 international matches since February 2021, recording seven wins.

Memories include a 0-2 friendly loss to the Lionesses last April.

WSL Stars in their squad include Manchester City’s Janine Beckie, 27, Chelsea’s Jessie Fleming, 23, Reading’s Deanne Rose, 22, and Tottenham’s Shelina Zadorsky, 29.

However, West Ham’s Adriana Leon, 29, is among those absent as the striker is currently recovering from injury.

Canada’s top goalscorer is 38-year-old Christine Sinclair, whose total number of goals in the global arena exceeds that of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Veteran striker who has scored in YEARS World Cupsis the all-time top scorer in the international women’s game with a whopping 188 goals in 10 years.

After the death of Sandi, Sinclair’s mother, who passed away after a battle with multiple sclerosis, Canada will be competing for Arnold Clark Cup without their captain.

Players should watch: Nichelle Prince

Nichelle Prince scored Canada's second goal in a 2-0 friendly win over Lionesses last April

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Nichelle Prince scored Canada’s second goal in a 2-0 friendly win over Lionesses last AprilCredit: Getty

Described as a ‘nightmare for opponents’ by Priestman, Prince, 26, was the target of Canada’s 2-0 defeat of England at Britannia Stadium last April.

In 2020, Houston Dash helped the US club win the National Women’s Soccer League Challenge Cup.

Last year, Prince, who scored 12 goals in 72 appearances for Canada, signed a multi-year deal to stay in Houston until 2024.

On the efforts of the front for Canada, Priestman said: “Nichelle is a nightmare to deal with anyone who goes against her.

“She can play anywhere across the front three, which is huge when you’re in the football league.

“She’s an important player for us and very important in getting us to the podium in Tokyo.”

Spain, along with England, is considered one of this summer's Euro title contenders.

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Spain, along with England, is considered one of this summer’s Euro title contenders.Credit: Getty

Spain

Jorge Vilda’s squad consists of 10 players from Barcelonaincluding the talents who tore through Chelsea’s defense last season Champions League Final.

The team, currently ranked as the ninth best in the world, are considered the dark horses for the Euro crown.

Their lineup for the Arnold Clark Cup also includes Manchester United Winger Ona Batlle.

The 22-year-old has scored one goal and one assist in the top 13 games for the Reds this term.

And the team’s most trophy-laden player – with a total of 93 – is the 2021 Women’s Ballon d’Or winner, Alexia Putellas.

England have won two of the last five clashes between the sides, including a Euro 2017 group stage match with Fran Kirby’s goal in a 2-0 win.

However, the most recent showdown between the rivals ended with a 1–0 win for Spain at the SheBelieves Cup in March 2020.

Players should watch: Alexia Putellas

Alexia Putellas scored one of the fastest hat-tricks in Barcelona's history, scoring three goals in four minutes against Valencia last year

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Alexia Putellas scored one of the fastest hat-tricks in Barcelona’s history, scoring three goals in four minutes against Valencia last yearCredit: Getty

Now widely regarded as one of the best players in the world, 28-year-old Putellas has developed into a formidable attacking midfielder in Spain’s top league.

The player who started his career at Espanyol in 2010, pulled the strings in Barcelona’s 4-0 thrashing of Chelsea last May.

And the Catalan giants went on to win their first Champions League title.

Last September, Putellas scored one of the fastest hat-tricks in Barca’s history.

The midfield scored three goals in just FOUR minutes of the 8-0 thrashing of Valencia.

Germany

Like their male counterparts, Germany is one of England’s toughest opponents and the most successful team in Euro history.

Three of the last five international friendlies between the sides have resulted in wins for Germany, the most recent being a 2-1 win at Wembley in November 2019.

However, England won the final showdown between the rivals, which was the clash in the group stage of the 2015 World Cup.

The Lions hope to avenge the 2-1 loss to Germany at Wembley in November 2019

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The Lions hope to avenge the 2-1 loss to Germany at Wembley in November 2019Credit: Getty Images – Getty

Back then, the Lionesses started at 11, with Jill Scott, Lucy Bronze and Alex Greenwood, sealing a 1-0 win.

Germany, who won Euro EIGHT once, reached the quarterfinals of the 2017 competition before being eliminated by Denmark.

WSL’s well-established side including Chelsea’s Ann-Katrin Berger, 31, and Aston Villa’s Ramona Petzelberger, 29, have won their last six World Cup qualifiers, conceding three times and scoring 32 goal.

However, Berger Blues teammate Melanie Leupolz, 27, is among the famous players absent from Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s squad.

According to Chelsea director Emma Hayes, the midfielder is currently competing with Covid for a long time.

Players should watch: Jule Brand

Brand, 19 years old, is among the players who have Arsenal tough times in the 4-1 Champions League group stage loss to Hoffenheim in December.

Jule Brand (right) is considered one of Germany's rising talents

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Jule Brand (right) is considered one of Germany’s rising talentsCredit: AFP

The German star, who scored the opening goal in that game, signed a move to Wolfsburg to sign a three-year deal with the Bundesliga giants earlier this year.

Regarded as one of her country’s most promising young players, Brand made his senior debut for Germany in a friendly against Australia last April.

The versatile midfielder has scored four goals in 10 appearances for her country since then.

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Arnold Clark Cup Fixtures

February 17 – Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough

2:30 pm – Germany vs Spain – ITV4

7:30pm – UK vs Canada – ITV4

February 20 – Carrow Road, Norwich

3:15 pm – England vs Spain – ITV

8:15 pm – Canada vs Germany – ITV4

February 23 – Molineux, Wolverhampton

2:30pm – Spain vs Canada – ITV4

7:30pm – England vs Germany – ITV4

https://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/17663064/lionesses-england-arnold-clark-cup/ England prepare for the battle before Euro with international heavyweights Canada, Germany and Spain

Ashley

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