Alessia Russo: Why the Man United star should start at Euro 2022

Alessia Russo of Manchester United speaks to the media.
Alessia Russo of Manchester United speaks to the media after the FAWSL match against Tottenham Hotspur on 7 November 2021 in Barnet, England. (Photo by Harriet Lander/Getty Images)

The Women’s Euros are just months away. No doubt England manager Sarina Wiegman is already thinking about what her starting team will be. There’s one suggestion that could be exactly what the Lionesses need to go all the way.

Providing Alessia Russo stays fit, I would love to see her be starting striker for England at the Euros. Her performances have been influential for Manchester United this season and she would give her country a completely different dimension upfront.

Russo arguably scored one of the goals of the season against Spurs in the Women’s Super League. That sort of talent will be huge at the Euros.

The rising England star is quick, powerful and has a shot so venomous she could leave a hole in a goalkeeper’s hand.

Next generation of Lionesses

Since the Wiegman era started, the Lionesses have looked a completely new side. But fresh faces and new traits are always needed in order to keep opponents on their toes.

In past tournaments, England have been very predictable. In some of the most crucial moments, senior players in the team have made costly mistakes, meaning experience doesn’t necessarily guarantee results.

A fresh attack would provide England with the versatility they have been craving, and also identify which new talents can boost the team once the veterans hang up their boots.

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The Women’s World Cup will commence in 2023, so it’s time to roll the dice on youth players and prepare for a new look of the Lionesses.

Ella Toone has been a revelation since being introduced to the senior set up. Handing regular minutes to the Man United star, as well as the likes of Lotte Wubben-Moy, has unlocked more options for Wiegman as manager.

Mary Earps has also stepped up in the absence of Ellie Roebuck — although she is 28, she has only made a handful of senior appearances for her country. These recent performances may have bolstered her chances of becoming a regular feature in Wiegman’s team.

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By not limiting her options and sticking with the ‘tried and tested’ players, Wiegman is uncovering a whole new layer of international talent.

The Dutch manager handed Russo just her second senior cap last month during the record-breaking 20-0 win over Latvia. The 22-year-old bagged a hat-trick despite starting the match on the bench. Man United teammate Toone also got in on the action with a goal of her own.

Toone and Russo combine perfectly at Man United, so hopefully, that combination could be just as potent for the Lionesses in July.

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Style of play

Russo is a creative forward who loves to move with the ball and create chances. She is second in most amounts of dribbles completed in the WSL, averaging 2.39 per 90 along with averaging 5.05 progressive carries per 90.

Russo also creates space for other forwards. This type of attacker will allow the likes of Beth Mead, Fran Kirby or even Toone to exploit that space and score lots of goals. Opposition defenders will be having nightmares.

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Huge risks can present huge rewards and Wiegman has already taken a number of them and they’ve paid off in dividends. England are yet to concede a single goal under the Dutch manager and younger players have proved influential across all areas of the pitch.

Utilising Russo more would be an exciting risk that would benefit the Lionesses in the long run. An attack of Kirby, Russo and Lauren Hemp would frighten the strongest of international defences.

The UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 is set to kick off on 6 July 2022. Be sure to follow Her Football Hub on social media for all the latest news in women’s football.

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