So who are England? A cheat code to some of the superstar Lionesses (Part Two)

Alessia Russo of England celebrates after scoring their team’s third goal during the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 Semi Final match between England and Sweden at Bramall Lane on July 26, 2022

Alessia Russo of England celebrates after scoring their team’s third goal during the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 Semi Final match between England and Sweden at Bramall Lane on July 26, 2022 Credit: Photo by Catherine Ivill - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

“Lionesses are the primary hunters. They are smaller, more agile than males and use teamwork to bring an animal down.”

Having effectively dropped points in a 1-1 draw against a tenacious Sweden on Friday night at Wembley, England are set to pounce from the kick-off in Dublin on Tuesday night.

There was disappointment for the Lionesses as they had beaten Sweden 4-0 in the EURO 2022 semi-final en-route to winning the tournament.

“[We should] hit the ground running, we can really go at them. I think they’ll probably want to come out hard as well, they won’t be happy with a 1-1 but it just shows that there’s points to take in this group..I think we can feel really positive going into that game and I think we can get points off them as well…we need everyone to get round us and support us at the Aviva.”

Anna Patten, post match interview at the Metz - Off The Ball

Let take you through two Lionesses who are set to snarl at the Aviva:

Name Alessia Russo

Nickname ‘Lessi’

Age 25

Position Forward

Club Arsenal

Sarina Wiegman’s take:

“She just really has a feeling for scoring goals. She is a good header. She has a good shot. She just is a real No. 9.”

 Key facts:

- grew up in Maidstone, England

- football is part of Russo’s DNA - her Father was the Met Police’s all-time top goal-scorer

- started playing football at 5 years of age for her local club West Farleigh FC while her grassroots club was Bearsted Girls (read Russo’s grassroots story in full here)

- joined Charltons Academy of Excellence when she was 8

- was scouted for a trial at Chelsea and stayed at under 12 level right up until under 17

- brought home bronze medals from the 2018 FIFA U20 Women's World Cup, having also previously played at the FIFA U17 World Cup in Jordan

- had a spell at Brighton & Hove Albion, where she played in the Spring Series of the FA WSL in 2017.

- played college soccer and joined the ACC North Carolina Tar Heels in the Autumn of 2017 - see here for youth highlights

- signed for United in 2020 where she netted 11 goals in 30 games across all competitions

- was named the inaugural winner of the team's Players Player of the Year Award for her 2022/23 season performances

- Russo was the top goal scorer for United for two consecutive seasons

- Russo signed for Arsenal on a free transfer in the summer of 2023

- The striker’s first start for her country came during a 1-1 draw with Canada in the opening match of the Arnold Clark Cup.

- Russo bagged the fastest hat-trick in England history, timed at 11 minutes, during their impressive 20-0 win against Latvia.

- has netted 18 goals for The Lionesses from 37 senior caps

- scored an infamous backheel in England's World Cup semi-final against Sweden

Key achievements:

- part of the All-Star Team stateside

Euro 2022 winner with The Lionesses

- Puskas Award 2022 Nominee for an outrageous backheel in England's WC semi-final against Sweden

- Women's Finalissima winner 2023

- bagged 527 minutes at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023, with 7 starts across all 7 games

- named in the FIFPRO World XI for 2023


Physicality: Can hold the line and drop deep as required.

Workrate: works tirelessly to retain possession and to win the ball back 

Strikers instinct: Watch her breakdown here of her goal-scoring acumen with BBC Sport

Skill level: Despite her strong frame, Russo has quick feet and excellent ball control.

Aerial: Poses a significant aerial threat - scored with her head against Sweden on Friday night in England’s opening A3 game


Goalscoring-wise, Russo has been critiqued for her total tally when compared to her competitors of equal position.

However, her count of attempts on goal and aerial duels won are higher than that of her counterparts.

[stats sourced from FOTMOB]

Each stat is adjusted on a per-90 basis and includes matches from the past 365 days. Players are then compared to positional peers from similar leagues, and placed into a percentile ranking.’

● Touches 64%

● Shot attempts 85%

● Goals 52%

● Chances created 64%

● Aerial duels won 74%

● Defensive actions 28%

Teammates take:

"She makes me look good a lot of the time. I know I can fizz it into her and she'll get hold of it. I think we've got that relationship on and off the pitch. It helps when you build those relationships off the pitch, it always helps to go onto it. Alessia is a great player, I know exactly what her strengths are so I work well with her. We just link up together really well."

Ella Toone

Russo’s post-match reaction following England's A3 Group Draw with Sweden

"To our standards, we know that there's a little bit all over the pitch that we can demand higher of each other from. I think as players, we'll own that and we'll look back at it. I think all across the board, there was just a little lower standards than we're used to. They pressed us really well, it's tough, it's not like it's an easy game. They're a top side and we struggled at times to figure out their problems but at the same time, we still got a draw.”

Alessia Russo, ITV Sport

Name Keira Walsh

Nickname Sat Nav Foot

Age 26

Position Central Defensive Midfielder/Playmaker

Club Barcelona

Key facts

- grassroots Club Pearson Juniors County, see here for her grassroots journey to the senior England squad

- started in the Blackburn Rovers Academy of Excellence

- transferred to her beloved Manchester City in 2014 where she made 118 appearances starting at the age of 17

- played in the Women's U19s international set-up and was part of the U23s squad that won the Nordic Tournament

- made her England senior debut on the 28th of November in 2017

has 72 Senior caps

- her performances during the Euros inspired French journalist Julien Laurens to hail her as “the best player in the world”

broke the women’s transfer world record fee at the time of her switch from City to Liga F in September 2022

Keira’s take on her game

“I spoke to my psychologist about how, especially at the World Cup in 2019, I was so afraid to make a mistake that I wasn’t the best version of myself and was holding back a bit. Playing under Sarina massively helped, too, because she gave me the confidence to try things, which is what I need.

"My psychologist says I’m at my best when I’m on my front foot, trying different passes and threading balls through on the edge of the box to dictate the play. It’s about trying to find the best version of myself, in a zone where I’m almost not thinking and everything I do is very natural.” FourFourTwo

Key achievements

- four League Cups (2014, 2016, 2019 and 2022)

- a Super League title (2016)

- three FA Cups (2017, 2019, 2020)

- Euro 2022 winner

- World Cup Runner Up 2023

- has captained England in place of Leah Willamson and wore the captains armband for their 1-1 draw against Sweden on Friday night.


- Deft footwork with close ball control 

- Passing GOAT 

- Insane dribbling skills

- Sees obtuse openings to thread attackers through

- Long range finesse

- Pundits believe she is an irreplaceable component of Wiegman’s squad


Walsh has scored once this season for Barcelona Femeni with four assists to her name.

She has yet to score for England.

[stats sourced from FOTMOB]

Each stat is adjusted on a per-90 basis and includes matches from the past 365 days. Players are then compared to positional peers from similar leagues and placed into a percentile ranking

● Touches 99%

● Shot attempts 10%

● Goals 43%

● Chances created 72%

● Aerial duels won 50%

● Defensive actions 19%

Former coaches take:

“I will not hold back: she is up there unrivalled with the most intelligent players I have ever worked with. You have to be so smart in spaces and the way she picks up and affects the build-up, dictating play and helping other players, is pivotal to us. She is so important.”

Former Man City Women boss Nick Cushing