Six Netherlands and Sweden stars to watch at EC, including WSL aces Miedema and Eriksson
SWEDEN begin their quest to reach a European Championship final for the first time since the tournament began in 1984.
They face a Dutch side bidding to win the competition for the second time in a row following their triumph in 2017.
The Bramall Lane clash, which will be broadcast live on BBC One at 8pm, is the second of two Group C openers with Portugal drawing 2-2 with Switzerland.
Sweden – beaten finalists at the Rio and Tokyo Olympics in 2016 and last August – will be hoping to win their first major tournament in 38 years.
But they will be up against a Dutch side with an array of attacking talent.
Here’s a look at six stars who are likely to play a big role for the teams at this year’s European Championships.
Vivianne Miedema (Arsenal) – FForward
The Arsenal hotshot, 25, is currently her national team’s record goalscorer.
The forward made history in June 2019 when she became her nation’s all-time top scorer with 60 goals after scoring a fine performance against Cameroon.
And Miedema helped his national team win their first ever major trophy five years ago.
She was on the scoresheet when her team, then coached by Sarina Wiegman, dispatched Denmark 4-2 to win Euro 2017.
In March, the Gunners star made history again when she became the first player to amass 100 WSL assists.
Lieke Martens (Paris Saint-Germain) – Wing
Martens finished Euro 2017 as the competition’s third top scorer behind compatriot Miedema and Golden Boot winner Jodie Taylor.
Then the forward, 29, won a Player of the Tournament gong for his impressive displays in attack.
The former Barcelona star has been praised for his style and trickery on the edge.
She was among the aces who impressed during the club’s 4-0 Champions League final defeat to Chelsea last year.
Since his international debut in 2011, Martens has scored 55 goals in 136 games.
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Jackie Groenen (Manchester United) – Mid field
The Manchester United fan favourite, 27, was her national team’s player of the match as they beat Sweden in the 2019 World Cup semi-finals.
Her goal in the 99th minute secured the Netherlands’ place in the final against the United States.
Her defensive and attacking versatility in a holding role proved effective during the club’s quest for a top-three finish in the 2020-21 season
At the time, United were narrowly beaten into third place by just one point.
For her national side, Groenen has scored nine goals and has 87 goals since making her senior debut.
Stina Blackstenius (Arsenal) – Strealms
Blackstenius, 26, made a positive start to his Arsenal career after joining the club in January from Swedish side BK Hacken.
Before her Gunners switch, the striker was one of Europe’s most sought-after forwards, attracting interest from sides including Manchester United.
Blackstenius has developed a productive partnership with club mates Miedema and Beth Mead scoring six goals in 11 WSL games.
Last summer she helped Sweden to a silver medal at the Olympics in Tokyo.
The forward scored five goals for the team that battled for gold before losing to Canada on penalties
The goals included a match against the USA in the tournament’s group stage.
Magda Eriksson (Chelsea) – Centre-back
Chelsea skipper Eriksson, 28, who joined the Blues in 2017, is considered one of the best defenders in the world.
At club level, the Swedish international had a pass rate of 83% for Emma Hayes’ team last season.
Since joining Chelsea, Eriksson has won nine major trophies with the club.
The defender was in Fifa’s World XI last year and has played 84 games for his nation, currently ranked second best in the world.
She also helped Sweden to a bronze medal at the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France when they beat England 2-1.
Her international accolades include two silver medals at the 2016 and 2021 Rio and Tokyo Olympic Games.
Kosovare Asllani (AC Milan) – Mid field
Asllani, 32, scored 19 goals in 46 games during a two-year Real Madrid spell from 2020 to this year.
At the Tokyo Olympics, the Sweden star, who sealed an AC Milan switch this summer, formed a formidable midfield partnership with skipper Caroline Seger and Filippa Angeldal.
Asllani scored the winner in Sweden’s last win against the Netherlands, a 2-1 friendly win in Canada ahead of the 2015 World Cup.
The midfielder has scored 43 goals in 161 international matches.
She is also Sweden’s third most played player after Seger and goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl.