With the troops picked up and the warm-up matches made, the European Championship 2022 is finally upon us. Jessy Parker Humphreys provides a group-by-group guide to the upcoming action.
Sweden, the Netherlands and Switzerland’s preparations for Group C were marked by uncertainty, with the trio unsure which nation would join them in the group until just a few weeks before kick-off – or in fact if a fourth team would join them at. All.
With Russia excluded from the competition by UEFA after the invasion of Ukraine, the remaining teams had to wait until the beginning of May to find out who they would face. Portugal were eventually announced as the team to take Russia’s place, after losing to them in their qualifying play-offs.
This tournament can be especially meaningful for Dutch coach Mark Parsons, who will return to train in England more than 10 years since he first left to train in the United States. There was a certain degree of symmetry in the Netherlands who chose an Englishman to replace their Dutch coach, who was off to lead England. Parsons is a friendly character with a bit of a silly streak for him, and if the Netherlands progresses, he could become a media favorite.
It’s not just Parsons who see this tournament as a homecoming. Dutch striker Vivianne Miedema has said she sees this as an extra home tournament, given that she has now lived in England for five years since joining Arsenal in 2017. At the same time, six members of the Swedish squad are also playing in England – in fact only England and Northern Ireland have more English-based players in their squads.
Players to watch
Sweden is probably the most complete team in the tournament when it comes to having talent across the field but not an obvious star, although Filippa Angeldal will be a player to keep track of. The former BK Hacken midfielder moved to Manchester City at the beginning of last season but made only six starts in the WSL. With Georgia Stanway and Caroline Weir both now leaving City, Angeldal will want to use the euro to claim a more frequent role. A player who likes to go forward and take shots, she is also an enthusiastic worker off the ball.
Fridolina Rolfo comes after a very impressive season with Barcelona where she came to be used mainly as a left back. Her attacking ability helped Barcelona blow away the teams both in Spain and in the Champions League and she grew in confidence as the season progressed. She corresponded to her highest goals ever this season and, restored to a more advanced role on the Swedish side, she was able to give them the cutting edge they need.
The Netherlands will return to the competition led by the duo who helped them win 2017: Miedema and Lieke Martens. Both have endured some uncertainty about the transfer recently, where Miedema eventually decided to stay and sign a new contract with Arsenal, but Martens chose to say no to an extension in Barcelona in favor of a move to Paris. Saint-Germain. Still, Jill Roord is the Dutch player who has impressed the most this year after her move from Arsenal to Wolfsburg. The 25-year-old showed how versatile she can be, playing on points like a false nine, a No. 10 or in midfield for the German champions. Her goal in Wolfsburg’s 2-0 victory over Barcelona in the second round of the Champions League semi-final showed how she has developed into a player who can lead her team on the pitch.
The Dutch made a big deal by persuading the talented Lyon midfielder Damaris Egurrola to declare for them before Spain, but she is not the only young midfielder who has really caught the eye. Ajax’s Victoria Pelova impressed with her off-the-ball work in the first half against England, and this will be her third international tournament at the age of just 23.
Portuguese goalkeeper Ines Pereira will hope she can frustrate some of the teams in Group C that she frustrated Chelsea in the Champions League this season. The No. 1 napkin was crucial in limiting Emma Hayes’ side to just one goal at Kingsmeadow and showed considerable ability in the face of a rather chaotic defense from his teammates. It seems likely that she will have plenty of opportunities to try to bring out the same heroism in this group.
Before the European Championships, Switzerland could have imagined that they caused some outrage in this group. Led by Nils Nielsen, a finalist with Denmark 2017, they have a good set of players including Arsenal midfielder Lia Walti, PSG forward Ramona Bachmann and Barcelona all-rounder Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic. But a disastrous set of warm-up matches involving a 7-0 loss to Germany and a 4-0 loss to England suggest they may struggle to make it to the Netherlands and Sweden.
The key match
The initial group game between Sweden and the Netherlands is one that can have a big impact on our perception of the entire tournament. Sweden has been tipped by many to win the European Championships, after a particularly impressive Olympics where they were unlucky to lose in the final against Canada on penalties. But the Netherlands are not only holders but also World Cup finalists in 2019, after beating Sweden in the semifinals.
But while the Netherlands is going through a transition period, Sweden seems to be going from strength to strength, after not losing a match since the final in Tokyo in August last year. The only issue that hangs over them may be their carelessness in front of goal. Their loss in the gold medal match was marked by an inability to take chances and they recently had a similar problem in a 1-1 draw against the Republic of Ireland.
However, the Netherlands is incredibly leaky at the back. In the past year, they have conceded two or more goals on seven different occasions to teams as diverse as Zambia, France and the Czech Republic. England’s 5-1 friendly win was yet another proof that Parsons has not been able to fix the problems that first began to appear under Sarina Wiegman.
The expected result
Sweden followed by the Netherlands. Then Switzerland and Portugal can go both ways but it seems unlikely that they will cause any shocks …
Group A: Can England handle the pressure from the “Group of Personal Vendettas”?
Group B: Can the favorites Spain be released in the Group of Death?
Group D: Will France avoid unnecessary drama and see Italy and Iceland?
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