WOMEN'S EURO 2022

AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

STAR PREVIEW: Women’s EURO 2022

Football is coming home this summer as the Women’s European Championship heads to England for what is sure to be an epic and important summer for the women’s game. 

Where major tournaments are concerned, expectation is always high for England – whether they are truly worthy of it or not – but heading into this tournament, under the stewardship of former Netherlands coach Sarina Wiegman, there is genuine belief that England Women could do something special this summer.

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After reaching the semi-final stage of the last three major tournaments under Mark Sampson and Phil Neville, the Lionesses will be hoping that they will be able to hit new heights under the highly-respected Wiegman.

Stylistically, England still like to play out from the back as they did under Neville but – under Wiegman – are now a lot more flexible tactically; often varying between different systems.

The Lionesses are not short of top-class operators but Lauren Hemp of Manchester City, at just 21 years of age, might just be the pick of the bunch. The PFA Women’s Young Player of the Year winner in four of the last six years has become a very important component in Wiegman’s attack and will certainly be one to watch this summer.

They haven’t been placed in the easiest group – alongside awkward opponents in Austria and Norway – but they should have enough to menanvour it and, with their quality now coupled with elite coaching, this could well be their year.

Spain are the current 3/1 starsports.bet favourites to go all the way and win the tournament this summer with many seeing La Roja as the ones to beat at EURO 2022.

They enjoyed a very strong qualifying campaign – which England of course didn’t have to go through as they are hosting the tournament – with La Roja comfortably topping Group D by winning seven and drawing one of their eight games.

The recent introduction of a Real Madrid team has been a huge catalyst for the exponential growth that we have seen in the Spanish women’s game in recent years and the national side will certainly be looking to use that positive momentum to their advantage this summer.

Despite being without their all-time record goalscorer Jennifer Hermoso through injury, Spain are not short of world-class options; boasting the likes of Irene Paredes in defence, Aitana Bonmati in midfield and Esther Gonzalez in attack.

France are another nation that are among the favourites with starsports.bet and it is easy to see why with one of the deadliest strikers in the competiton, Marie-Antoinette Katoto, among their ranks.

PSG’s Katoto has an utterly ludicrous goalscoring record, notching 108 goals in 113 professional appearances for her club and an equally as impressive 24 goals in 29 caps for France. She will, undoubtedly, be the focal point for Les Bleues this summer but they are far from a one-woman team.

Ella Palis of Bordeaux – who is a relatively new addition to the national team set-up with just seven caps to her name so far – is a promising, diminutive midfield player who could well be a shining light in France’s midfield at EURO 2022.

For England fans, Netherlands will be an interesting team to follow with Lionesses coach Wiegman playing no small part in the development of this Leeuwinnen side.

Wiegman was hugely influential before departing for England last year, but how well they’ve replaced her and how well they can cope without her is the big question ahead of EURO 2022.

They are now under the mentorship of British coach Mark Parsons who, at just 35 years of age, has already plenty of success with Washington Spirit and Portland Thorns in the USA.

The Dutch are, of course, the reigning champions after defeating Denmark 4-2 in the 2017 final thanks to an inspired performance from Arsenal forward Vivianne Miedema.

Miedema – on the back of another excellent season for the Gunners – will be the one to watch in the Dutch attack. Her speed, movement and natural attacking instinct means that she will be a nightmare for any defender trying to stop her in this tournament.

Germany will also be hoping to cause a splash at this summer’s tournament and are currently 7/1 to win the tournament with starsports.bet.

Martina Voss-Tecklenburg is under a bit of pressure heading into EURO 2022 after suffering a disappointing quarter-final defeat to Sweden at the 2019 World Cup and missing out on a spot at the Olympic games as a result.

This Germany side have been renowned for their strong defence in recent years but, heading into this tournament, it is actually now a slight cause for concern. Marina Hegering – so often the linch-pin of the Die Nationalelf back-line – has struggled for fitness and Germany have been leaking goals at an unusually high rate.

They have also been placed into a tough group alongside EURO 2017 runners-up Denmark and starsports.bet favourites Spain. They are one that are hard to predict and to keep an eye out for.

Sweden could be the dark horses this summer, if you can even call them that. They have some truly top-class operators among their ranks and the only reason why they are not fancied more is simply down to just how strong the line-up for EURO 2022 is.

Stina Blackstenius, who joined Arsenal on a free transfer from BK Hacken in January, will be one of Sweden’s key players. A versatile and intelligent forward full of dynamism and energy, the 26-year-old has six goals to her name in just 11 appearances for the Gunners so far.

Another side hoping to go under the radar this summer is six-time finalists Norway. Often among the favourites for the Euros, the Norwegians aren’t fancied as highly this time and are currently 14/1 to lift the trophy with starsports.bet.

However, the return of Lyon forward Ada Hegerberg still makes them an interesting proposition. The 26-year-old has a ridiculous 154 goals to her name in just 134 appearances and, if she’s on form, could well drag Martin Sjogren’s side through the tournament on her own.

Among the outsiders, Italy and Denmark probably have the best chance of doing something at EURO 2022. However, the likelihood of Italy replicating the success of the men’s side last year feels slim and, with a young squad, the Danes could still be a couple of years away from becoming the finished article.

Northern Ireland – who are heading for their very first European Championship finals – are the biggest underdogs at the tournament and, although have very little chance of getting close to winning it, will certainly give everything and could be awkward opponents.

JOE CITRONE

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