Euro 2022: All the pieces you could know

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The 2022 Women’s European Championship in England (LIVE July 6-31: Across ESPN networks in the U.S.) is sort of upon us and there’s a constructing sense of curiosity and pleasure to see how Europe’s prime sides carry out. Who will disappoint? Who will win the Golden Boot? Can England actually overcome the stress they’re underneath as hosts?

To get you ready for the event, here’s a choice of among the finest gamers you must look out for and the groups who’re prone to go all the way in which. We make some daring predictions about what may unfold all through July and let you know which group video games you merely have to observe. That is ESPN’s megapreview to Euro 2022.

Soar to: Six players to know | Five must-see matches | Four talking points | Three top contenders | Two bold predictions | One pick to win it all

Six gamers you could know

Lauren Hemp | FW | England (Manchester City)

There’s one thing in regards to the 21-year-old Hemp that exudes maturity and expertise past her years. With the ball at her ft, she is likely one of the finest wingers on this planet, and it appears like she has been round for greater than 5 seasons within the Women’s Super League (WSL). Final season, she scored 20 targets in 36 video games for Manchester Metropolis and added 10 assists for good measure.

Many assume Hemp is simply getting began, which is an thrilling prospect for England. She is already very important to Sarina Wiegman’s setup, offering pizazz to the England assault. Her pace and dribbling ability are her bread and butter, and when Hemp has the ball you understand she goes to make one thing occur.

Additionally a gifted cricketer, Hemp is not letting the hype round her go to her head, She stated: “For me, I am my greatest critic. I put a lot stress on myself that I do not actually really feel it from the surface. However I typically look again and realise how far I’ve come and that I am nonetheless so younger and assume I mustn’t put as a lot stress on myself as I do. It is discovering that steadiness in ensuring I do carry out at my finest however that I do benefit from the journey as properly, as a result of I believe after I take pleasure in it you get the perfect out of me.”

Stina Blackstenius | FW | Sweden (Arsenal)

It has been a giant 12 months for Blackstenius and a superb Euros efficiency from her would go a protracted solution to sealing her stardom. She moved from Hacken to Arsenal in January and instantly slotted into Jonas Eidevall’s aspect. It’s arduous to think about Vivianne Miedema — the WSL’s all-time prime scorer — enjoying any higher than she already does, however the partnership creating between her and Blackstenius is one to observe. Followers have even gone so far as giving them a nickname: Vivstenius.

With Sweden and Netherlands in the identical group, nevertheless, there will not be time for any pleasant banter between the 2. What’s noticeable about Blackstenius in recent times is that she has turn into extra assured and grown into the vital function she performs for Sweden. It’s even one thing she has talked about herself, saying on Hedvig Lindahl’s podcast: “I do not assume I’m shy right now and that may be a very good feeling. Ultimately I wasn’t snug being the cautious individual that I used to be and I envied the individuals who discovered it straightforward to be extra outgoing.”

Blackstenius performed a key function in Sweden’s silver-medal-winning campaigns at Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020, together with an amazing purpose in opposition to the United States within the latter. The timing of her runs and the precision of her passes will likely be key for Peter Gerhardsson’s aspect as they attempt to win the event for the primary time since 1984.

Marie-Antoinette Katoto | FW | France (Paris Saint-Germain)

The choice of Corinne Diacre to depart Katoto out of the France squad for the 2019 World Cup nonetheless has folks scratching their heads. In 2018-19, she was Division One Female’s prime scorer with 22 targets and had scored 30 instances in 29 video games throughout all competitions for Paris Saint-Germain.

On the time, Diacre stated Katoto hadn’t carried out sufficient to impress her in massive video games and that was why she was omitted. Regardless of the snub, Katoto did not let it have an effect on her kind within the subsequent few seasons. She has continued her run because the league’s prime scorer and pulled PSG by a tough season. Arguably, their second-place end (though properly off Lyon, who completed 11 factors forward) was largely all the way down to her scoring prowess. Voted the perfect participant within the league this 12 months, she has scored greater than 20 targets in 5 consecutive seasons and is a sizzling favorite to win the Golden Boot on the Euros ought to France have the ability to progress by the event. She is a goal-getter by and thru.

She did have some contract “disagreements” with PSG previous to the event, however she sorted these and signed a brand new take care of the capital membership by to 2025 so there should not be something on her thoughts other than scoring targets.

Ada Hegerberg | FW | Norway (Lyon)

Hegerberg is a reputation everybody is aware of, however the alternative to see her at a serious event with Norway is one everybody ought to relish, as a result of for a very long time it seemed unlikely that we might ever see it once more. In 2017, she stopped enjoying as a type of protest in opposition to how her nationwide federation handled ladies’s soccer. Her resolution to return again in March 2022 shook the soccer world however not as a lot because the hat trick she scored in her first match again in Norway’s 5-1 win in opposition to Kosovo.

After spending 21 months out with an ACL damage, folks have been uncertain what to anticipate from Hegerberg and whether or not she would return to her former heights. The inaugural Ballon d’Or Feminin winner has put lots of these inquiries to mattress, and what we now have seen is a extra relaxed Hegerberg who appears to be having fun with her soccer greater than ever.

It’s arduous to not assume that she has just a few scores to settle this event, and with different world-class gamers round her resembling Guro Reiten and Caroline Graham Hansen, her purpose poaching could possibly be essential to Norway making it out of their group.

Claudia Pina | FW | Spain (Barcelona)

Spain’s possibilities at this Euros are being pushed largely by Barcelona’s success up to now two seasons. Names like Alexia Putellas, Aitana Bonmati and Mapi Leon drip off your tongue when discussing their potential, however there’s one other younger Barca title who additionally deserves a point out.

Pina dazzled at underage degree. Beginning out in futsal, she made the transfer to Espanyol earlier than Barca got here calling, and she or he joined their youth crew. She scored 20 targets in 100 video games for them, a powerful feat at any degree, and in addition led Spain to victory on the 2018 under-17 World Cup, the place she gained the Golden Ball. Even at simply 20, she is aware of what it takes to win, and with this time spent surrounded by among the world’s prime gamers, it’s arduous to see how her star will not proceed to develop.

It’s aggressive within the ahead locations for Spain, and she or he should do the work to verify she will get a displaying, particularly as Spain have a troublesome group in Denmark, Finland and Germany. Pina ended her season with 15 targets from 24 appearances, usually doing so coming off the bench for Barca, and scored in every leg of the Champions League quarterfinal win over Real Madrid.

Lena Oberdorf | MF | Germany (Wolfsburg)

Not many individuals in Germany can say they hit the degrees of Birgit Prinz, however Oberdorf confirmed from an early age that she might have a future as illustrious because the German nice when she took her file for Germany’s youngest World Cup participant in 2019. Germany’s file within the Euros is unrivalled however their success in main competitions has teetered off in recent times, and they are going to be eager to regain their dominance of Europe. That is the place gamers like Oberdorf ought to step in. She has expertise at profitable a European trophy as she was a part of the squad who gained the U17 title in 2017.

An all-round participant, she will slot into the midfield or take up a extra defensive function and it’s her bodily presence and sharp decision-making that can make her key for Martina Voss-Tecklenburg this summer time. The Germany coach has beforehand praised her younger participant’s “bodily presence” and that will likely be key in a tough group. Along with her play, she can be recognized for being vocal on the pitch and never being afraid to educate her teammates as she goes, a lot in order that she has earned the nickname “Chief” at such a younger age.

5 must-see group stage matches

England vs. Austria, July 6 (3 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

The opening recreation at Previous Trafford has been offered out for months, and a full home will imply smashing the earlier file for attendance at a Euros match. It is going to even be the second for England to announce themselves at their dwelling event. The Lionesses are ranked properly above Austria and with what is basically anticipated to be an England-dominant crowd cheering them on, will probably be a key match for getting their event off to a superb begin.

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Talking at a current media day at St. George’s Park, a number of England gamers instructed ESPN that this was the sport they have been most trying ahead to within the group levels. “I am trying ahead to each single minute of the event however I believe the primary recreation is the beginning of all of it,” Alessia Russo stated. “And clearly being at Previous Trafford, will probably be actually particular.”

Denmark vs. Germany, July 8 (2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

A replay of the 2017 quarterfinal that ended Germany’s 22-year dominance of the Euros, this can be a massive recreation. Not solely is it vital for either side due to the competitiveness of their group, however Denmark will need to show their final encounter and their run to the ultimate wasn’t a one-off, whereas Germany will likely be out for revenge.

Having Denmark’s all-time prime scorer in Pernille Harder of their ranks is a crucial play for Lars Sondergaard’s aspect, in addition to the information that prime scorer in qualification Nadia Nadim will likely be making her return from an ACL damage for the event.

Netherlands vs. Sweden, July 9 (2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

Either side are loads stronger than Switzerland and Portugal, who’re additionally of their group, and due to this fact ought to progress, however nothing is ever sure. Plus, a win for the defending champions Netherlands or one for Olympic runners-up Sweden will settle some preconceptions about each heading into the event. Netherlands not too long ago skilled a 5-1 drubbing to England, whereas Sweden have a case of “all the time the bridesmaid, by no means the bride” that they should overturn.

It is going to even be an intriguing battle between the Arsenal strike partnership of Miedema and Blackstenius. Usually so in tune with the opposite at membership degree, they will be hoping they will get the higher of one another and convey their nations glory.

France vs. Italy, July 10 (2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

France are favourites to win Group D however they might face a problem in opposition to Italy. Milena Bertolini’s aspect snatched a 1-1 draw with Spain within the lead-up to the event and boast eight gamers from Juventus, who’ve dominated Serie A up to now 5 seasons and did remarkably properly within the Champions League this season.

France on paper undoubtedly have the stronger aspect however contemplating Juventus’ success in opposition to Lyon, it could be foolish to depend Italy out utterly. Barbara Bonansea has been a number one gentle for each membership and nation and they are going to be relying on her to carry out once more.

Germany vs. Spain, July 12 (2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

Group B is surely essentially the most aggressive group within the event with Denmark, Finland, Germany and Spain all battling it out for these prime two spots. Whereas each recreation will likely be vital, there may be an intrigue to Germany vs. Spain because it feels just like the outdated trusted winners developing in opposition to the brand new youngsters on the block.

Each have loads to show with neither fairly dwelling as much as expectations in recent times regardless of the mountain of expertise that they possess. Germany are lacking sturdy gamers in Dzsenifer Marozsan and Melanie Leupolz, however contemplating their good qualification run, they need to be able to a win.

4 massive speaking factors

Can Northern Ireland transcend their underdogs tag at their first main event?

There was a collective sense of pleasure for Northern Eire once they certified for the Euros after simply two losses out of eight qualifying video games (they might by no means fairly get previous the problem of Norway.) The scenes once they secured qualification have been delirious they usually adopted it up with a file sold-out crowd in Windsor Park for his or her recreation within the World Cup qualifiers in opposition to England. Nevertheless, it hasn’t been fully clean crusing since then.

Coach Kenny Shiels was compelled to apologise after he suggested that women were more likely to concede goals in quick succession as they’re more “emotional” than men. His crew backed his apology, nevertheless, and the aspect seem to have simply been specializing in their preparations.

They’re in a troublesome group with England and Norway prone to qualify, however they’ve proven up to now that they’re properly in a position to tackle opponents above their grade, and with the swell of assist behind them, do not be stunned in the event that they pull off an upset.

Can Spain replicate the success of the lads’s aspect in 2010?

The similarities between the lads’s run within the 2010 World Cup and the probabilities for this ladies’s Spain aspect are arduous to disregard. Each have been constructed off superb Barcelona groups and each have been adopted by the narrative that membership success won’t translate to the nationwide aspect. Vicente del Bosque proved it might, however Jorge Vilda might need a barely more durable expertise.

Spain’s first purpose will likely be to get out of their group, which is the hardest within the competitors. If they will try this, there isn’t any motive why they cannot push additional into the event. In an fascinating transfer, the Spanish Soccer Federation renewed Vilda’s contract till 2024 simply days earlier than the event started. There had been some rumblings {that a} new face is perhaps wanted after the Euros if Spain did not carry out, with the likes of Ballon d’Or winner Putellas and her Barcelona teammates within the aspect, however they’ve dedicated their belief to Vilda. This summer time could possibly be a defining second for Spanish soccer.

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Will Diacre have the ability to win over her France aspect to steer them to victory?

Whereas many hoped that Diacre and France had realized from the experiences within the 2019 World Cup, it appears that’s not the case. Amandine Henry and France’s all-time prime scorer Eugenie Le Sommer have been each omitted of the squad after falling out with Diacre, who has by no means been afraid to publicly criticise her gamers.

Henry beforehand described a way of worry that exists across the camp, which is hardly the perfect setting for a rustic seeking to turn into European champions and dispel the demons of 2019. There may be additionally the truth that a big a part of the crew is made up of gamers from PSG, who’ve had a fractious season. Their coach, Didier Olle-Nicole, was suspended for “inappropriate behaviour” whereas there have been nonetheless ripple results from the attack on Kheira Hamraoui.

It’s a massive job to tug this squad collectively, but when they will handle to do it, they are going to be a formidable drive and maybe extra so if their earlier fractions result in groups underestimating them.

Who will take dwelling the Golden Boot?

Most gamers will say that profitable for the crew is the factor that drives them, however everyone knows that any nice purpose poacher will likely be keen to return out on prime over their counterparts. England’s Jodie Taylor gained the person award in 2017 by scoring 5 targets, adopted by Miedema (4) and Lieke Martens (3). Whereas Taylor would not function this time round, each Miedema and Martens are sturdy bets for getting the gong this time round.

England’s Ellen White turned England’s all-time prime purpose scorer in November and remains to be flying within the targets at 33 years outdated. With Manchester Metropolis teammates Hemp and Chloe Kelly on the wings, it would not be shocking to see her racking up the targets. Elsewhere, there may be Putellas in Spain’s camp and returning legend Hegerberg for Norway. Denmark’s Nadim was on a scoring streak earlier than she tore her ACL and she or he additionally has her countrywoman More durable to deal with.

It is arduous to choose who may come out on prime, however it’s equally tough to see previous France’s Katoto, an absolute purpose machine, ought to France have the ability to go on a run by the event.

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Kathleen McNamee praises the affect of Chloe Kelly as she scored her first worldwide purpose in England’s 3-0 win vs. Belgium.

Three prime contenders

England

Wiegman did it with Netherlands at a house event in 2017 and England followers will likely be praying that she will ship the identical for them this 12 months. There is not any motive to assume it is not potential, both. There may be an ease and a togetherness about this England crew that appears fairly much like that of the lads’s crew final summer time.

“It is an actual DNA in England to work arduous and stick collectively,” Jill Scott instructed ESPN. “And why would not you stick collectively? You are all stepping onto the identical pitch, you all need the identical factor.”

In addition to feeling like they’ve the tactical nous in Wiegman, they’ve the ability to again it up. They’ve younger gamers like Hemp, Kelly and Ella Toone who’re all main lights at their respective golf equipment, whereas veteran leaders like White, Lucy Bronze and Beth Mead appear primed to get that major-tournament medal.

Netherlands

Heading right into a event because the earlier champions is all the time a heavy burden to bear, and that a lot was clear of their 5-1 loss to England forward of the event. It notably stung with Wiegman having led them to their 2017 title, and it put stress on Mark Parsons to show he can do the identical. Stress is not all the time a foul factor heading into a serious competitors, although, and if Netherlands can get some wins underneath their belts, it’s straightforward to see them happening a run all over to the ultimate.

They do boast among the finest purpose getters on this planet in Miedema, who’s the nation’s all-time prime scorer with 92 targets. They might want to tighten up their defence, with numerous their star gamers that includes in both midfield or up entrance. Regulate Damaris Egurrola, 22, and Esmee Brugts, 18, who’re newer to the fold however have massive potential.

Sweden

Sweden have been constructing to this second because the 2019 World Cup, and it’ll appear to be a good greater slap within the face if they do not obtain that elusive big-tournament title. Typically the Swedish league would not get the identical consideration because the likes of the WSL, Division One Female or Spanish Primera Division, but it surely ought to because the Damallsvenskan has been producing prime expertise for many years now. Sweden have all the time reached at the least the quarterfinals on this event and have misplaced three finals.

For gamers like Caroline Seger, essentially the most capped Swedish participant of all time, it could be nice to see Sweden go all the way in which to the ultimate.

Two daring predictions

Germany will battle within the event

It has been an fascinating few years for Germany. As soon as the behemoths of European soccer, each their nationwide and home sides have struggled considerably in massive competitions. Unquestionably they’re nonetheless constantly knocking on the door however they are not as ominous a determine as they have been pre-2017. In relation to the sooner levels of competitions (qualifying and group) they cruise, however when it will get all the way down to the enterprise finish, there is not that very same spark.

Martina Voss-Tecklenburg goes into this marketing campaign with out two key members of her midfield in Marozsan and Leupolz, and her defence is shaky particularly with Marina Hegering combating health. That they had a shock World Cup qualifier loss to Serbia, too, to deal with mentally. Whereas that Germany aspect was removed from full-strength, they need to be profitable these video games. Additionally they have a troublesome group with groups who really feel like they’re on the rise greater than they’re.

Oberdorf and Sara Dabritz are two thrilling gamers who could possibly be key if they’re to progress.

England will make the ultimate, however will not win

Wiegman has undoubtedly given this England aspect an edge and sharpness that wasn’t there earlier than. She has proven that she is not afraid to make massive choices, resembling stripping the captaincy from Steph Houghton to provide it to Leah Williamson and declaring the veteran defender not match sufficient to make the squad. Socks and sliders are banned from crew conferences and she or he retains pushing her squad, in search of extra ruthlessness.

England additionally appear to have settled into the function of event hosts fairly properly. Quite than feeling that stress, the crew has eased into the function and look like relishing their second within the solar. Nevertheless, historical past has proven that this aspect struggles once they get to the ultimate finish of the competitors, and it’s a very long time to maintain centered with all of the hype and a spotlight.

It’s straightforward to see this England crew making it to Wembley on July 31, but it surely would not really feel like they’ve that closing leading edge to go all the way in which.


One decide to win all of it

Sweden

It has confirmed to be a controversial take to say that Sweden are going to turn into champions of Europe — as a result of they have not gained it since 1984 and there are different stronger sides — however the time feels proper for Gerhardsson’s aspect. They fell to a robust Netherlands crew in 2019 and doubtless weren’t at their peak at that stage. They’re coming off the again of a powerful Olympic marketing campaign that noticed them narrowly lose to Canada on penalties they usually made the world champions, the US, seem like they hadn’t kicked a ball since 2019. There’s additionally a way that the gamers themselves need a completely different legacy. “I am so f—ing bored with having a f—ing silver medal,” Kosovare Asllani stated after the Olympic closing.

They have not been overwhelmed since March 2020, other than the penalty defeat to Canada, and their squad depth is especially spectacular.

“It is by no means been this robust,” Gerhardsson stated earlier than he introduced his squad. “Since myself and Magnus [Wikman, the assistant coach] took over in 2017, the competitors for locations has not been at this degree. And I’m not simply speaking in regards to the beginning XI, that is for the entire squad.”

Ten of Sweden’s 40 targets in qualifying got here from defenders, and the core of the squad — Asllani, Hedvig Lindahl, Magdalena Eriksson, et al — have been collectively for a very long time. Add within the type of gamers like Blackstenius and there isn’t any motive why the No. 2-ranked crew on this planet cannot get to the end line first this time.

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