Alexandra Popp proved to be the hero once again –– scoring twice as Germany beat France 2-1 to reach the Euro 2022 final.
The German captain, who has made more than 100 appearances for the national side, has been in exceptional form at this year’s tournament and popped up with both her team’s goals, either side of half-time.
Despite making her debut in 2010, this is the first time Popp has featured in a European Championships and she is more than making up for lost time.
With Germany setting up a blockbuster clash with England at Wembley on Sunday, Sarina Wiegman’s side will be frantically pondering how the Lionesses can stop the Wolfsburg star?
Popp finally gets her chance
Popp is a two-time German Footballer of the Year and has been captain of the national team since 2019.
In 2016, she helped guide Germany to Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro and starred for her country at the 2019 World Cup.
With 59 international goals, Popp is fifth on Germany’s record goalscorer list, though she remains some way off Birgit Prinz’ impressive tally of 128.
Remarkably, however, Popp has been desperately unlucky when it comes to European tournaments.
In 2013, the striker tore ligaments which caused her to watch on as Germany lifted the title. Then, in 2017, she was again injured, this time tearing her meniscus.
Five years later, the 31-year-old made her Euros debut against Denmark in Germany’s opening game and scored just 25 minutes after coming on as a substitute.
Since then, the forward has not looked back and is playing some of the best football of her career.
Popp has now scored in every game of the tournament and is the first player to ever do so in a women’s Euros.
In total, she has six goals at Euro 2022 –– level with England’s Beth Mead.
Sunday’s final will, therefore, decide who walks away with this year’s Golden Boot.
Can England stop her?
Popp is clearly Germany’s biggest weapon and England’s chances of lifting their first major silverware will likely depend on if they can stop the striker.
The German is a huge physical presence up front but Wiegman will likely get Millie Bright to mark the forward when it comes to set-pieces.
While Wiegman will be plotting how to deal with the Wolfsburg star, a lot will also depend on the midfield battle.
Keira Walsh, Georgia Stanway and Fran Kirby have all received plaudits at this tournament, but the German pair of Lina Magull and Lena Oberdorf have been equally exceptional.
Whatever happens, this game promises to be the biggest game in women’s football history. Wembley is sold out and the atmosphere is bound to be historic.
Popp the date in your diaries. Sunday will be a day to remember.