The host of England will start the European Championship 2022 for women against Austria at Old Trafford, when Thursday’s draw for the tournament pairs defending champions the Netherlands with the Olympic silver medalists Sweden.
Eight-time European champions Germany face the toughest group on paper alongside the rapidly improving Spain, Pernille Harder’s Denmark and former semi-finalist Finland.
France’s attempt to win the competition for the first time will see it take on Italy, Belgium and Iceland in Group D.
England hope that the home advantage will reach a big women’s final for the first time after falling in the semi-finals at the last two World Cups and at the European Championships 2017.
READ: Asian Cup a possible springboard to the FIFA World Cup qualifier – Renu
The Lions’ coach Sarina Wiegman, who led the Dutch to victory at home four years ago, will be pleased to have avoided a trickier draw.
Norway and Northern Ireland, on their tournament debut, make up the section.
England, Austria and Northern Ireland are all ready to face each other before the tournament starts in the World Cup qualifiers.
Wiegman’s ladies beat Northern Ireland 4-0 at Wembley last weekend, while Austria needed a stoppage time equalizer to secure a 2-2 draw in Belfast on Tuesday.
The Netherlands’ clash with Sweden in Sheffield on July 9 will be a repeat of the World Cup semi-final that the Dutch won two years ago.
READ: India, China in the same group for the 2022 Asian Women’s Cup
Both nations will be sure to move on from a group that also includes Switzerland and Russia.
More than 160,000 tickets have already been sold for what UEFA hopes will be the most visited women’s sporting event in Europe’s history.
Between the opening match at the Theater of Dreams on July 6 and a Wembley final on July 31, matches will be held at Brentford Community Stadium in London, as well as in Brighton, Leigh, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Rotherham, Sheffield and Southampton.
Below is the draw
Group A: England, Austria, Norway, Northern Ireland
Group B: Germany, Denmark, Spain, Finland
Group C: The Netherlands, Sweden, Russia, Switzerland
Group D: France, Italy, Belgium, Iceland