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England eye ‘incredible’ chance to end 57-year World Cup drought

Skipper Millie Bright said her team were embracing an “incredible opportunity” to do something an English side has not managed since 1966 — win a World Cup.

The Lionesses powered into Sunday’s final in Sydney against Spain after a ruthless 3-1 dismantling of co-hosts Australia, with their relentless energy grinding down a Matildas side that had few answers.

It set up England’s biggest game since Bobby Moore lifted the men’s trophy at Wembley 57 years ago.

“I’m really happy for the fans back home, for our nation,” said Chelsea stalwart Bright, with men’s skipper Harry Kane and even King Charles III sending congratulations.

“It’s something that we’ve all been driving towards and it’s something that’s been missing. Now the opportunity we have is incredible.”

The European champions have grown through the tournament, with their ruthless attacking football and defensive resilience proving a tall order for the opposition.

But it has been their adaptability that has driven them to the brink of history, built on the back of the tactical genius of coach Serena Wiegman who led them to the European title last year.

“You can win in many different ways and, for us, we’ve faced so many challenges at this tournament,” Bright said on Fifa.com. 

“It’s hard for people to see on the outside, but as players, we know that there’s more to football than just pretty passes and connecting.

“In each game, we’ve proved something different about how we play, what we’re capable of. We’re very adaptable to what teams throw at us. 

“But things are really starting to click now and we’re getting the ball in the back of the net.”

This is ominous for Spain, who have also shown resilience after their tournament preparations were thrown into disarray.

Last September, 15 players sent an email to their football federation saying they did not want to be considered for selection. The protest was aimed chiefly at coach Jorge Vilda, including complaints that he was too strict.

Vilda held on to his job and  has steadied the ship, but England will nevertheless be favourites on Sunday with Wiegman at the helm.

The Dutch coach has reached four major tournament finals in a row, leading the Netherlands to the European title in 2017 then the World Cup final in 2019, where they lost to the United States.

With England, she took them to European glory on home soil last year and now has another chance to win the biggest trophy of them all.

“We made the first final in 2017 and thought this is really special, it might not ever happen again,” she said. 

“Then you make the second, the third and the fourth and still think this might never happen again because there is so much competition,” she added.

“I can hardly describe how proud I am of the team.” 

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