Goalscoring ‘monster’ Beth Mead in Golden Boot clash with ‘beast’ Alexandra Popp

It promises to be a head-to-head shoot out that will decide who are crowned the queens of Europe.

Not that either of the leading protagonists are willing to put personal glory before team success when England meet Germany in Sunday's Euro 2022 final. The seismic showdown has a number of fascinating sub-plots as the old enemies clash on the greatest stage looking to make history.

But none of them feel more interesting than the battle between rival strikers Beth Mead and Alexandra Popp. With six goals each heading into the tournament's finale, Mead and Pops find themselves in direct battle to see who can land the Golden Boot.

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Lethal Lioness Mead has produced the form of her life to fire England to their first final in 13 years and the brink of ultimate glory.

What a difference 12 months can make, considering this time last year Mead was sitting at home feeling down in the dumps and rejected after being axed from the Team GB squad for the Olympic Games in Japan. Ian Wright described the Arsenal ace as a "goalscoring monster" in the wake of her hat-trick in the group stages against Northern Ireland, when Mead admitted afterwards she would "love" to win the Golden Boot.

She was more cautious when asked the same question at Bramall Lane this week, having scored again to help England thrash Sweden to book a place in the final.

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"It's more about the team than an individual," she said, "and I'm just focusing on doing what I can to help us win keep winning games."

Standing between Mead and a clean sweep of honours though is German giant Popp. The Wolfsburg superstar, 31, has a stellar CV which includes 117 international caps, 56 goals, an Olympic gold medal and 16 domestic trophies, including three women's Champions League triumphs.

Not bad for someone who once completed an apprenticeship as a zookeeper.

But Popp believes she still has unfinished business and she said: "Winning the Golden Boot is not my priority.

"My priority is to win the Euros. If I have the chance to crown the title with that achievement as well, it would be nice, but if it doesn't happen, then I'll still be happy." The Germans wouldn't even be in the final if it wasn't for the exploits of Popp, who scored twice to seal a famous win over France in the semis.

Team-mate Lena Oberdorf reckons Popp is an animal in front of goal and she said: "Poppi did outstanding once again. She's just a beast in there. That's exactly what we need from her."


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