Hosts England, defending champions Netherlands – or maybe record European champions Germany? In the favorites check, the sports show takes a close look at the supposedly best teams at the Euro in England and gives a title forecast.
England – Sky high expectations for the hostesses
Opening game at Old Trafford, final at Wembley – and England want to be there for both highlights. Expectations in the motherland of football are sky-high. The question is whether the undoubtedly favored “Lionesses” can withstand the claims.
England is one of the pioneers of modern women’s football at club level, but the national team has not yet won a major title, although almost all international players now play at top clubs on the island and no longer abroad. Best result so far: third place at the 2015 World Cup in Canada.
Coach Sarina Wiegmann, who was European champion with the Netherlands in 2017 and succeeded Phil Neville as England team boss in September 2021, knows how to win titles. The greatest trump card for the English women is certainly the well-rehearsed defense around Lucy Bronze, world footballer of 2020. Experience is also a trump card in midfield (Jill Scott, Fran Kirby) and attack (Ellen White, Nikita Parris).
But Wiegmann has also integrated up-and-coming players: such as Georgia Stanway, Ella Toone or striker Lauren Hemp – all from Super League third-placed Manchester City, who also provide the backbone of the team with nine kickers.
A few days before the start of the European Championship, the defending champions, the Netherlands, were unexpectedly beaten 5-1 in Leeds. Austria, Norway and Northern Ireland should not be in danger of stumbling in the preliminary round.
title prediction: Top-Favorite
Netherlands – as a tournament team to success?
European champion 2017, vice world champion 2019 – the Netherlands have been among the top teams for a good five years. Of course, the defending champion is one of the contenders for Europe’s crown again in England, but the circumstances are special. Coach Wiegmann, who took the Dutch to the top of the world, is now in charge of the hosts’ team. And “Oranje” coach is an Englishman – Mark Parsons.
The 35-year-old is a proven women’s football expert, worked for Chelsea FC before moving to the strong US women’s league and was very successful with the Portland Thorns. Parsons believes that the Netherlands are not yet perfectly matched as a team.
The rough 1:5 defeat in the test against England underlined his assessment. However, the coach trusts that “Oranje” is strong enough to survive the preliminary round group with Sweden, Portugal and Switzerland and to get used to it better and better over the course of the tournament.
In the 5-1 draw against England in Leeds in the European Championship friendly, the Dutch women could only celebrate Lieke Martens’ 1-0 win.
Individual quality abounds: Vivianne Miedema scores goals on the assembly line – staged by winger Lieke Martens and Jill Roord. As at VfL Wolfsburg, Dominique Janssen holds the defense together and the experienced Sherida Spitse pulls the strings in midfield. New star in the sky: Victoria Pelova from Ajax Amsterdam.
title prediction: My favorite
Spain – With Tiki-Taka, but without world footballer Putellas
Next to England, Spain has seen the most movement at club level in recent years. All big clubs now have women’s teams, champions FC Barcelona, Real Sociedad or Real Madrid even fill big stadiums like the Camp Nou.
Based on the upturn in the league and the successes of FC Barcelona, the German group opponents are one of the very hot title contenders in England – even if they have only played in two finals at the World Cup and three at the European Championships. The semifinals at the EM 1997 was the biggest success.
But the mood among the Spaniards is depressed. After record goalscorer Jennifer Hermoso (45 goals), who is moving from FC Barcelona to Mexican club Pachuca, her former teammate Alexia Putellas is also out due to a knee injury. The world footballer tore a cruciate ligament shortly before the start of the tournament.
Can the technically strong and tactically mature team of national coach Jorge Villa cope with both failures? Undoubtedly, there is still a lot of quality left. Hopes now rest on Irene Paredes and Sandra Paños. Spain scored 48 goals in eight games in qualifying for the European Championship – the same number as Denmark and the Netherlands, who, however, played two games more.
title prediction: My favorite
France – Still without a big title
France is also a grande nation in women’s football – Olympique Lyon have just won the Champions League for the eighth time and are considered a top address at club level. But the same applies to the Equipe Tricolore as to England: the national team has not yet won a major title.
The French have been eliminated in the quarter-finals of the past three European Championships and two World Cups. In major tournaments, they have a full two wins in knockout games.
The greatest trump card is the offensive power: Kadidiatou Diani, Viviane Asseyi and Delphine Cascarino bring speed into play, Marie-Antoinette Katoto scores the goals but is also an efficient passer.
Delphine Cascarino (right) from Olympique Lyon is the number one assist provider in the French team.
National coach Corinne Diacre has a remarkable CV. The former national player was the first woman in France to obtain the highest coaching license and successfully coached the second division men’s team Clermont Foot for three years before being appointed national team coach in September 2017. Diacre lets her team play in the 4-3-3 system.
Although their collaboration didn’t work out so well from the start, her extended arm on the court is Wendie Renard. The captain, who was born in Martinique, is not only an exception in international women’s football because of her height (1.87 m). The defense she directed ended qualifying for the finals in England without conceding a goal. France has had twelve wins in a row since April 2021. Under Diacre there were only five defeats in five years.
title prediction: My favorite
Sweden – Good from experience
The first European champion in women’s football history (1984) is somehow always at the top and yet never at the top. As the only European women’s team, the Swedes took part in all European, World Cup and Olympic tournaments. They are second in the world rankings and defeated England in the match for third place at the 2019 World Cup in France. At the last two Olympic tournaments, they “only” got silver.
Above all, Sweden puts experience on the scales. Goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl, defender Linda Sembrant and attacking forces Kosovare Asllani and Sofia Jakobsson have all won well over a hundred international caps – captain Caroline Seeger even more than 200.
In addition, the former Hammarby professional Peter Gerhardsson can fall back on international top players such as Fridolina Rolfö (FC Barcelona), Stina Blackstenius (Arsenal), Magdalena Eriksson (Chelsea) or Hanna Glas (Bayern Munich).
The once strong Swedish women’s league has lost much of its appeal. Only five players from the current EURO squad are active in the Damallsvenskan. But that shouldn’t be a major disadvantage for the national team, because most of them have been playing together for a long time and team spirit has always been very important in Sweden.
title prediction: good chances
Germany – title collectors aD
The DFB team has already won eight European Championship titles, but the last success was nine years ago. Olympic victory in Brazil followed in 2016. After that, the two-time world champion seemed to have lost touch with the world leaders with the quarter-finals at the 2017 European Championships and the 2019 World Cup.
However, Martina Voss-Tecklenburg started a long-term development process with young players that seems to be falling on fertile ground. “The power density in our squad is high,” says the national coach. But is that level enough for the top?
A construction site is still in the defensive, in which there are now more footballers who are also strong in opening the game. In the interfaces, however, there is often a lack of fine-tuning, as the unexpected 2-3 defeat in the World Cup qualifier against Serbia showed.
On the offensive, there is an oversupply of creative, dribbling footballers. However, players with a strong physique like Alexandra Popp and Lena Oberdorf are currently in short supply, which could be a decisive disadvantage compared to teams like England or Sweden.
Full-back Giulia Gwinn should be in the DFB team.
The return of captain Popp after a long injury break is certainly a blessing for the German team. The transfer of Almuth Schult, another spokesman, to the second rank was perhaps the national coach’s first really difficult personnel decision. That’s not the only reason why Merle Frohms is under a lot of pressure. The former and soon-to-be-again Wolfsburg resident contests her first tournament as number one.
Overall, the DFB team is like a grab bag. From getting out of the strong preliminary round group with Spain, Denmark and Finland to taking part in the final, everything seems possible.
title prediction: piñata