After a battling 4-3 defeat to Germany in the semis, the U17 Lionesses have been busy preparing for their third-place decider against Norway. Despite meeting earlier in the tournament, the stakes are now raised with the winner securing a place in September's U17 Women's World Cup in Jordan. In advance of the match, Robyn Pinder caught up with England's semi-final goalscorers, Chelsea's Alessia Russo and Birmingham City's Ellie Brazil, to see what life is like within the camp and what's driving them on.
RP: First off, congratulations on a great Euro campaign so far! There's been some incredible highs! That said, how's everyone feeling/what's the atmosphere like within the camp after the Germany match?
EB: Thank you! The team understandably are disappointed with the result however we're here to achieve our goal of reaching the World Cup which we have now got a second chance of doing - we are now focused on our next game against Norway and determined to get the 3rd place.
AR: Obviously we are gutted about the loss but we need to focus on going again vs. Norway and getting a win.
RP: How did it feel for each of you when you scored those goals so soon after conceding?
EB: Personally I felt relief that we got back into the game and had a chance to go again. It was great to score an important goal, however the team create many opportunities for myself and I must give them credit for that. The longer we play together, the better we will get, and the depth in this team is evident with the wide variety of goal scorers we have had throughout this tournament!
AR: It was amazing scoring after conceding but I couldn't have done it without great team mates supplying me with the passes and crosses! However it was a very hard game and absolute credit to Germany!
RP: Georgia and Lotte told us how close you girls are off the pitch - who are the jokers of the group? But most importantly, who is the pre-game DJ and what is their playlist like?
EB: The pre game DJ in the changing room is Alessia and her playlist is upbeat which gets us raring to go for the game!
AR: We are all jokers and all have a right laugh together! The DJ's are me and Taylor we do the coach to and from training then I do game day! The top three at the moment are Too Good and Controlla by Drake, and Kanye's Ultralight Beam!
RP: So Alessia - in the England setup, you’re pretty versatile, playing up top and on the wing - where’s your favourite position?
AR: I don't really have a favourite if I'm honest I'm just happy to be on the pitch!
RP: You’ve been a lifelong Chelsea girl, right? How does it now feel to be training with players such as Raff, Davison, Kirby, etc.?
AR: Training with the first team is amazing and the standard is top class! It's great getting the opportunity to train with such professionals and see what they do on and off the pitch! They inspire you to become as good as them!
RP: What are your goals for the rest of the season?
AR: My goals for next season are to just to keep progressing and developing on and off the pitch in order to become the best player I can possibly be!
RP: Ellie - you joined the Euro campaign in the March's Elite round and scored within 5 minutes of coming on - and now you’ve just started the semi-finals of the Euro Champs - have you enjoyed being part of the team over the last few months?
EB: I've loved being a part of the team in the past few months, especially with it being such a big competition. It's been amazing getting to be part of a team that all have the same goal and all drive towards it together, it's also a great family atmosphere with the coaches which makes it even better to be involved.
RP: You’ve already grabbed a number of goals and assists - what do you think the strongest part of your game is?
EB: I think the strongest part of my game is definitely physical, I used to do athletics until 2 years ago when i decided to choose between the two sports, so this pays a massive advantage to my game pressing- and durability-wise.
RP: You recently got your first start in the WSL with Birmingham, which must have been awesome - How did it go? Has it made you work even harder? Also what are the girls like and who do you look up to?
EB: It was a great experience to play against the likes of Steph Houghton and Lucy Bronze and a great challenge. It has made me determined to work harder to be in contention to play for them again in the future. The Birmingham girls are great, they welcomed me into the group and made me feel comfortable straight away. I have had Jo Potter and Jade Moore as my coaches for the past year, they are always there when I need any type of advice and I obviously admire them a lot with them being involved with England and in the team that came 3rd in the World Cup.
RP: Have you set yourself any goals this season?
EB: My goal for this season was always to make my first WSL debut and to be involved in the Euro squad. I now want to stay in and around the first team set up at Birmingham and aim to be in the World Cup squad if we get there.
RP: Both of you have brothers that are also involved heavily in football right? Have they influenced your careers in anyway? (or is it the other way around!)
AR: Yes playing with my brothers has massively helped my performance! I come from a very sporty family so if I didn't do some sort of sport I would be the odd one out!
EB: For me, my brother has been a huge influence in what I do, since a young age I would always be out playing with him and he made me enjoy the sport a lot more. In some aspects I've influenced him as well, his perspective on female football has been broadened and he enjoys coaching female footballers just as much as he enjoys coaching males now.
RP: Looking ahead to Monday, it's a repeat of your opening game and a World Cup place is there for the taking.. Is everyone ready and determined to make sure the Lionesses claim their place in the tournament?
AR: Yes we are ready for the game and all prepared to leave nothing on the pitch - we don't want to feel like we did after the Germany game, so we are all very hungry for the win. However, Norway are a very strong team and, as with all the games out here, it will be another tough test.
EB: Everyone is focused on the task to get 3rd place and we all have the same dream and goal to get to the World Cup - which makes me believe we will get there. We're all in great condition going in to our final game and are ready to get the bronze medal.
RP: What are your thoughts on everything you girls have achieved in the competition so far? Any shoutouts you girls want to give?
AR: We are pleased with our tournament so far but our goal is to go to the World Cup so it all falls down to the game tomorrow! I think the girls and staff have all been brilliant, you spend nearly 3 weeks together so you need to have a tight bond and we definitely have that as a group!
EB: We are pleased with what we have achieved so far, in the past year we have grown as a group massively however we won't be satisfied until we reach our goal to get to Jordan where we will then have improved more.
See their goals:
Soccerella wish the girls all the best against Norway! You can catch the live match updates on the official UEFA Women's U17 Euro 2017 website: uefa.com/womensunder17/
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