Women's Euros: 'You've not seen the best yet' – Hemp targets improvement as England prepare for Spain clash

·3-min read

England forward Lauren Hemp believes fans are yet to see her best football ahead of the Lionesses' Euro 2022 quarter-final against Spain, as she warned facing La Roja represented a "massive challenge".

Hosts England breezed through the group stages at the Women's Euros, recording the biggest ever win at a European Championship when hammering eight goals past Norway before rounding off Group A with a 5-0 win over Northern Ireland.

In doing so, Sarina Wiegman's team became the first side since Germany (in 2001, 2005 and 2009) to win all three of their group games at back-to-back European Championships, having done likewise in 2017.

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The Lionesses have now scored an astonishing 98 goals in just 17 games under Wiegman, remaining unbeaten throughout and only conceding three times.

Hemp started all three of England's group games, scoring in the resounding win over Norway, but is targeting improvements on an individual level as the knockout stages get underway.

"I think it takes time, it's my first major tournament with England, and in front of so many fans it is nerve-wrecking, I'm not going to lie," Hemp said in a news conference on Monday.

"I think being consistent is something I'm striving towards and personally I don't think you've seen the best yet, there's still time, and obviously it's going to take a while and I'm still so young.

"I'm still learning every day and taking it all in my stride really. I've got a great group of players around me who are supporting me and doing amazing.

"It's important that we carry on this run and everyone's taking so much confidence from the recent games, it's important that we carry that on in the quarter-finals."

England have won seven of their past eight Women's Euros matches
England have won seven of their past eight Women's Euros matches

Wednesday's opponents Spain began the tournament as one of the favourites but finished second in Group B after losing Ballon d'Or-winning winger Alexia Putellas to injury before their opening game.

While Hemp is looking forward to facing Spain at Brighton and Hove Albion's AMEX Stadium, she admits La Roja, ranked seventh in the world by FIFA, will provide a stern test.

"I think the overriding feeling is excitement, we've played them before in the Arnold Clark Cup [a 0-0 draw in February] and that was a massive learning curve for us," she added.

"We've done all the preparation needed and it's important that we stay on track, we've got a lot of confidence from the previous games obviously, [keeping] clean sheets, scoring lots of goals, and we're in a good place as a group, it's really exciting.

"We've got a lot of respect for the teams we have played and also the team we're going to come up against, but it's going to be a massive challenge, we know that.

"Coming into the quarter-finals is never going to be easy, it's two top sides coming up against each other so we're just looking forward to it."

Meanwhile, England's preparations for their last-eight clash have been disrupted by Wiegman testing positive for COVID-19, but Hemp played down the importance of her absence from training.

"It's been different, obviously Covid is still around and it's a frustrating thing, it's unfortunate that she's got it," Hemp said.

"But we've trained for so long for these scenarios, she's still involved in the sessions remotely, but we've still got a fantastic technical staff and it doesn't feel that different, to be honest.

"She's still there and still supporting us, whether that's remotely or in person."