The quarter-final clash between England and Spain will see the two teams with the highest passing accuracy and highest possession stats at Euro 2022 go head to head.
Spain have seen 66.3% of the ball at this summer’s championships compared to England’s 62.7%, while the Lionesses boast the marginally superior passing accuracy – 88.7% over La Roja’s 87.3%.
Instrumental to these lofty possession stats have been the classy midfields that both sides possess: Keira Walsh, Georgia Stanway and Fran Kirby started all three of England’s group stage matches, while Aitana Bonmatí and Patri Guijarro have been ever-present for Spain.
The midfield battle is set be a fascinating affair on Wednesday evening, and Walsh has insisted that England will not stray from their passing principles in the face of Spain’s possession-based style.
“Obviously they’re going to be looking to keep the ball a lot, but for us the emphasis is on just carrying on what we’ve been doing,” she said. “We don’t want to kind of play into their hands and keep giving them the ball back, the idea for us is to keep possession as well.
“I think there’s an emphasis on the whole of the midfield as well, we’re coming up against some top players in the Spanish team, so for us it’s about keeping them quiet and presuming they’ll be feeling the same about our team.
“This is going to be a tough test; the Spanish team have got some top players and we’re aware of that, but the emphasis is on us enjoying the style we’re playing.”
Walsh is built in the mould of a traditional Spanish midfielder, with her composure on the ball and eye for a pass. The Manchester City midfielder grew up watching the likes of David Silva and Sergio Busquets, and admitted her admiration for this current crop of Spain and Barcelona players.
“I’ve definitely grown up watching Spanish players, and my dad definitely tried to influence that in my game,” she added. “There’s a lot to admire about the Spanish team – the way they move the ball and their movement off the ball, I think we’d be stupid not to have respect for that.
“Barcelona Women again, watching them, they’re incredible, but I play with incredible players day in day out and so for us it’s doing what we’ve been doing and focussing on us.”