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Lionesses hope to return to winning ways in Nations League double header against Belgium

The Lionesses are back in camp, preparing for their Nations League double header against Belgium; they will first face the Red Flames on home soil on the 27th October at Leicester’s King Power Stadium, before travelling to Belgium on the 31st October to face the side away.

Sarina Wiegman named her Nations League squad with some exciting additions, including Manchester City goalkeeper Khiara Keating and Tottenham’s Grace Clinton. This is both players’ first senior call up and comes off the back of outstanding performances for their clubs in the WSL so far this season. Another notable inclusion is Fran Kirby, who returns to the squad for the first time since the 2022 Euros after suffering a debilitating knee injury. She too has been playing consistently for Chelsea and was instrumental in England’s Euros win so it will be great to see her return to international football.

The Lionesses will be looking to return to winning ways, having lost two of their last three matches, most recently suffering a 2-1 defeat to Sarina Wiegman’s old coaching side – The Netherlands. During that game the England players looked tired and struggled to dominate possession and create stunning chances that we are so used to seeing. This could likely have been a result of the proximity of the game to the World Cup final, giving players limited time to recover physically and mentally.

UTRECHT, NETHERLANDS – SEPTEMBER 26: Alex Greenwood, Lucy Bronze and Millie Bright of England react during the UEFA Women’s Nations League Group A match between Netherlands and England at Stadion Galgenwaard on September 26, 2023 in Utrecht, Netherlands. (Photo by Frederic Scheidemann – The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

The sheer amount of games being played has been a huge talking point in recent months, with pundits and fans alike expressing concerns for the players and the lack of time they have had to rest and process the devastating loss of the World Cup final. This is always an important conversation to have, but especially so with the epidemic of ACL injuries that the women’s game is experiencing – more games being crammed into a short time period is likely to only put further strain on their bodies and increase the risk of injury.

Looking at previous games against the Belgian Red Flames, England will have confidence heading into this one. Their most recent meeting was earlier this year in the Arnold Clark Cup where the Lionesses claimed victory with a 6-1 win. We saw goals from Chloe Kelly, Leah Williamson and Lucy Bronze, demonstrating real team cohesion and threatening attacking options across the pitch.

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 22: Lucy Bronze of England scores the team’s first goal during the UEFA Women’s Nations League match between England and Scotland at Stadium of Light on September 22, 2023 in Sunderland, England. (Photo by Harriet Lander – The FA/Getty Images)

That result isn’t necessarily reflective of Belgium’s quality. Their first Nations League game saw them take on The Netherlands, a game most expected the Dutch side to comfortably win after a pre-world cup match saw them win 5-0. However, the Red Flames came out firing and took the first Nations League victory with a 2-1 win over the Dutch. They looked disciplined in defence and pounced on the opportunities to attack, quick and combative on the counter, which ultimately led to their win.

 Ahead of the game Wiegman has spoken on recent performance and the upcoming fixtures saying:

“It is good for us to be back together. Obviously we have a good start with the win against Scotland; however, the outcome of our last fixture against the Netherlands was disappointing. We will be fully focused to perform well twice against tough opposition. Belgium’s results in the Nations League show they are a talented side who can cause teams problems, so we will need to be at our best to get the results we’re looking for.”

Tickets are already sold out to watch the game in person, but you can tune in to watch the Lionesses back in action on the 27th October at 7.45.