England’s ‘insane’ level has closed gap to world’s top team USA

England return to Wembley for the first time since their Euro 2022 triumph as they take on the USA in a friendly

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Megan Rapinoe believes that the “insane” level reached by England during Euro 2022 has closed the gap to the United States as the World Cup winners prepare to take on the European champions.

Sarina Wiegman’s Lionesses host the USA at a sold-out Wembley on Friday night as they return to the scene of their Euro 2022 triumph.

The friendly will be the first meeting between the two teams since 2020.

The USA, winners of the last two World Cups, remain the top-ranked side in the world but finished only third at the Olympics last summer, and have several key figures nearing the end of their careers.

Forward Rapinoe, capped nearly 200 times for her country, believes that the top European nations are getting closer to her side, with England heading the pack after following the USA’s lead in achieving “something special”.

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“These teams are so good,” Rapinoe said ahead of a much-anticipated meeting. “We saw it in the World Cup, the Euros, the Champions League.

“The level of football right now is just insane. We’re happy to be right in the mix at the top.

“There’s a reason we’re at Wembley, that there’s 90,000 people coming and these two particular teams have stretched way past the field and done something special.

“I feel this is a really special moment in women’s football. This is one of those special career moments that don’t come around often.”

Wiegman suffered defeat to the United States as manager of the Netherlands in the final of the 2019 World Cup in France.

The manager remains unbeaten, however, since being appointed to the lead England coaching role last year.

England were also beaten by the world champions during the course of the 2019 tournament, with Steph Houghton having a penalty saved late on in a 2-1 semi-final defeat, and Wiegman is hopeful that her side can show how far they, and the rest of Europe, have come since that disappointment.

“I know they are one of the best teams in the world, they are ranked number one,” Wiegman said of the Lionesses’ oppponents. “I think there are a couple of teams at the moment who are really good and are at a really high level.

“We saw in the Euros that the European game has improved so much that we’ve come closer and closer. We’d like to show that [on Friday] of course.”

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Arsenal forward Beth Mead admitted that the pain of the 2019 defeat was fuelling the England squad: “We took it hard but looking at it now it’s made us more hungry to prove ourselves against a world-class American team.

“We’re looking forward to the challenge and testing ourselves.”

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