After a five-year absence, the UEFA Women’s European Championships are back next month, and it promises to be a competition for the ages. With so many nations in with a chance of going all the way, it could be one of the most open we’ve seen in some time. Taking place in England for the first time since 2005, the host nation looks as strong as any to lift the trophy at Wembley Stadium on the 31st of July, partly thanks to new coach Sarina Wiegman.
However, standing in their way will be favourites Spain, while France and defending champions the Netherlands are both also in the mix. Unlucky for some, perhaps the 13th edition of the Women’s Euros can instead bring some good fortune to England’s door, who are twice-beaten finalists.
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Where is the competition taking place?
The football competition will take place in England across ten different venues in eight host cities. Naturally, the final will take place at Wembley Stadium, the home of English football. Two Manchester grounds are being used in Old Trafford and Man City’s Academy Stadium. The second London arena in use is Brentford’s Community Stadium, which can hold just over 17,000 spectators.
The remaining six are Bramall Lane in Sheffield, St Mary’s in Southampton, Brighton’s Falmer Stadium, MK Dons’ Stadium MK, Leigh Sports Village and the New York Stadium in Rotherham. England will play their three group games at Old Trafford, Falmer Stadium and St Mary’s – with the Semi-finals set to take place in Sheffield and Milton Keynes.
Who won Euro 2017?
Euro 2017 was historic for several reasons. Not only did the Netherlands become the first host nation since 2001 to lift the trophy, but they also managed to end Germany’s remarkable stranglehold on the Euros in the process – who had won nine of the last ten championships. Most significantly of all, it was The Leeuwinnen’s first-ever international trophy since the women’s team’s formation in 1971.
The Dutch, under current England coach Sarina Wiegman, sealed the title in style thanks to a 4-2 victory over neighbouring Denmark in the final. Spearheaded by Lieke Martens and Arsenal superstar Vivianne Miedema, it was a resounding triumph that changed the course of women’s football forever in the Netherlands.
In a year of big upsets, France, Spain and Germany all exited the competition at the Quarter-final stage, while Holland soundly beat England in the Semi-finals.
Women’s Euro 2022: Team Analysis
Rankings are current (17/06/2022) FIFA World Ranks – UEFA
* Odds have been provided by 888sport and are accurate as of 24/06/2022
Spain (Ranked 7th)
Star Players: Irene Paredes (c), Alexia Putellas, Amaiur Sarriegi
Bolstered by the talents of several Barcelona Femeni stars, Spain head into the competition as slight favourites despite never previously winning a major honour. Ten of the 23 players in the Spanish squad play for Barca, who were beaten finalists in this year’s Women’s Champions League edition. One of those ten players happens to be 2021’s Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas, who has enjoyed a sensational 2022.
Success on the continent has been harder to come by for Spain than Barca, but the national team is certainly on the rise. In the calendar year 2021, Spain remained undefeated in all of their games without conceding a single goal in the process.
They have largely failed to make much of a splash on the international stage thus far, having only reached the World Cup Finals for the very first time in 2015. Spain’s record in the Euros isn’t much better either, with a Semi-final appearance in 1997 their best finish to date. However, it’s fair to say that they’ve never had a better chance of winning a major honour than this year – on paper, at least.
Odds to win: 7/2
England (Ranked 8th)
Star Players: Ellen White, Ella Toone, Leah Williamson (c)
Twice beaten finalists in the Euros, England will be hoping that the recruitment of a previous tournament winner as head coach can be enough to deliver the title at long last. Wiegman previously guided the Dutch to their maiden Euros win in 2017, and with a talented English roster, there is every chance that she could do the same again this year.
History is on their side in terms of going deep in the tournament, as England are the only European side to have reached the Semi-finals of the last three international competitions. With a squad that is blessed with stars like Lucy Bronze, Leah Williamson and Beth Mead, England really do have what’s needed to go all the way.
The team’s recent form since Wiegman’s appointment is also trending in the right direction. In their 2023 World Cup qualifying group, the Lionesses are yet to drop a point (or even concede a goal) in eight games – all while scoring 68 at the other end.
Odds to win: 4/1
France (Ranked 3rd)
Star Players: Marie-Antoinette Katoto, Selma Bacha, Wendie Renard (c)
If Les Bleues are going to win the Euros this year, it will surely be thanks to their remarkable attack, which is arguably the strongest of any side. A front three of Kadidiatou Diani, Sandy Baltimore and Marie-Antoinette Katoto, who combined for 35 goals in the league at PSG last season, will cause plenty of problems for opposition defenders.
The trio will be assisted by several players from Lyon’s all-conquering women’s side, who shocked the footballing world by beating Barcelona 3-1 in the 2022 Women’s Champions League Final.
The stand-out French player from that triumph was Selma Bacha, a 21-year-old Left-back who created more chances and assists than any other player in last season’s Champions League.
France may have a young core, but they are uber-talented and incredibly hungry for success – with no previous squad ever getting beyond the Quarter-final stage at the Euros.
Odds to win: 5/1
Netherlands (Ranked 4th)
Star Players: Damaris Egurrola, Vivianne Miedema, Lieke Martens
The defending champions may have lost their head coach to the England set-up, but write off this superbly assembled side at your peril. With Englishman Mark Parsons now in charge, the Dutch charge will once again be led by the WSL (and Arsenal) legend Vivianne Miedema. Already the Netherlands’ leading scorer at the age of just 22, she has even bagged a double in a Euros final previously.
There is plenty of talent elsewhere on the pitch, too, including PSG winger Lieke Martens – who was named player of the tournament at Euro 2017. With her injury issues now seemingly a thing of the past, Martens could provide some vital support for Meidema from wide and potentially add to her impressive hall of 54 senior goals for the Dutch.
The side may lack star quality in defence though the reliable Sari van Veenendaal (c) will be between the posts, they however possess a midfield maestro who could make all the difference in England this summer. Damaris Egurrola will represent the Netherlands after switching allegiance from Spain – and the promising 22-year-old could be just what the Dutch need.
Odds to win: 5/1
Dark Horse: Italy (Ranked 14th)
Star Players: Manuela Giugliano, Cristiana Girelli, Valentina Bergamaschi
Centred around an ever-improving Juventus side, Italy head to the UK with little external expectation. However, much like the men’s team in 2021, this ability to fly slightly under the radar could help them achieve a rather special – and very historic – win.
Led by Juve captain Sara Gama, Italy’s ability to cause an upset this summer will hinge on the effectiveness of their usually dependable defensive line. With the 33-year-old at the back, they possess a seasoned leader who helped Juventus concede just 14 goals in 22 Serie A games last season.
At the sharp end of the pitch, they also have the ability to really hurt teams. Forwards Cristiana Girelli and Valentina Giacinti have won four of the past five Serie A golden boots, and the pair are capable of striking up a good understanding at international level too. Left-back Lisa Boattin is also a standout player who could help lead Italy to glory.
Odds to win: 28/1
With serial competition winners Germany not quite as formidable as they have been in years gone by, the 2022 Euros really are there for the taking. As we have assessed, home advantage could really play into England’s hands, as the Lionesses have an excellent recent record at home.
For our money, England and France look like the best picks of the bunch to win the tournament. The hosts are also blessed to have a coach who knows how to win international trophies, while the French finally have a wonderfully balanced squad with a strong Lyon contingent.
Spain may currently be slight favourites as things stand, but they are yet to showcase their pedigree on the biggest stage of all, and while Putellas’s talent can bail them out of trouble once or twice, this alone may not be enough to deliver a historic first European title for Spain on this occasion.
The Netherlands, meanwhile, are still blessed with incredible talent in attack but concerns over the fitness of Martens, and with an inexperienced coach at the helm, question marks do remain over the defending champions.
Whoever takes home the ultimate prize, it’s set to be an unforgettable month back in the birthplace of the beautiful game.
All four of the favourites should advance from their respective groups, although Group B could provide an upset if Denmark can knock out Spain or Germany at the first stage. Moreover, we’d back England to reach the Semis again, but can they go one better this time? We’ll have to wait and see.
Women’s Euro 2022: Golden Boot Special
Ahead of what is set to be an incredibly exciting and unpredictable Women’s Euros, much of the pre-tournament talk has been focused on the superstar forwards who look set to light up the championships.
With two former Ballon d’Or winners and the golden boot winner from the 2019 World Cup among the contenders, the competition certainly won’t be short on attacking quality.
But who will scoop the coveted golden boot award this year, and can their goals fire their nation to Euro 2022 glory?
Who won Euro 2017’s Golden Boot?
It was England’s Jodie Taylor who won the golden boot award at the 2017 Euros in the Netherlands. While no longer in the national set-up, the former Arsenal and Lyon forward has a record of 19 goals in 51 caps for England, including her winning strike against France in the Quarter-finals five years ago.
The 36-year-old also netted against Spain in a 2-0 group stage win and, most impressively of all, scored a fine hat-trick as the Lionesses thrashed Scotland 6-0 in their opening game of Euro 2017. Just behind Taylor in the final standings was Vivianne Miedema of the Netherlands, whose four goals helped the Dutch become European champions for the very first time.
Women’s Euro 2022: Golden Boot Standing
* Red Marks winner of the award, due to having 5 assists compared to the other player
Euro 2022: Golden Boot Contenders
* Odds have been provided by William Hill and are accurate as of 30/06/2022
Odds to win: 11/2
England’s all-time record goalscorer starts as the favourite to win the golden boot at her home tournament. The 33-year-old is a deadly finisher, as is evidenced by her 50-goal haul for her country. She also has a habit of delivering on the international stage when it matters most, having finished as the joint-top scorer at the 2019 Women’s World Cup Finals in France.
White’s preparations for the Euros haven’t been ideal, as she missed several warm-up games earlier this month due to contracting Covid-19. However, if she can discover her very best form this summer on home turf, the Manchester City forward could power England to a first European title – such is her quality in front of goal.
International Record: 50 goals in 105 apps
Tournaments: World Cup 1 (6 Goals at France 2019), Euros (1 Goals at Netherlands 2017)
Odds to win: 7/1
Focal point of France’s menacing attacking trio, which also includes Kadidiatou Diani and Sandy Baltimore, the 23-year-old finally has the opportunity to announce herself on the world stage after tearing up club football. Her goal-to-game ratio for club and country underlines just how deadly Katoto is in the penalty area. The PSG star has 24 goals to her name for the French national side from just 29 caps.
France has an excellent chance of going to the 2022 Euros Final, and if they do, expect Katoto to be near the top of the goal charts. She has already inspired her club side to a historic French Division 1 Feminine title in 2020/21, contributing 21 goals as the Parisians edged out current European champions Lyon. Blessed with pace and natural finishing ability, it could be a tournament to remember for Katoto.
International Record: 24 goals in 29 apps
Odds to win: 8/1
No other forward on this list has a better-proven track record in this competition than the Dutchwoman. Miedema’s four goals in the 2017 Euros – two of which came in the Final victory against Denmark – propelled her to superstar status in her native Netherlands. Five years on, the 25-year-old is a much more well-rounded player and will surely assume even more responsibility out on the pitch.
Miedema has played her club football for Arsenal since 2017, becoming the WSL’s all-time leading goalscorer in the five years since then. She is also Holland’s record goalscorer, bagging 92 in total from just 109 caps. This summer should see her play in a slightly deeper ‘number 10’ role for the Dutch national team, but that isn’t expected to blunt her goalscoring instincts one bit.
International Record: 92 goals in 110 apps
Tournaments: World Cup (3 Goals at France 2019), Euros (4 Goals at Netherlands 2017)
Odds to win: 10/1
Putellas has already led Barcelona to European glory, and fans in her native Spain will be hoping that she can repeat such heroics for the national side. There are few bigger stars in women’s football right now, mainly on account of the winger’s 2021 Ballon d’Or triumph. At 28, Putellas is arguably at the very peak of her powers. If Spain do go on to win the Euros this summer, she will surely have played a defining role in making it happen.
Having mainly been utilised as a winger/creative midfielder, the Barca starlet isn’t quite as prolific in front of goal as the likes of White and Miedema. However, her talent and eye for a finish make her a contender for the golden boot, nonetheless. Technically superb and capable of producing something out of nothing, Putellas will be one to watch whatever happens.
International Record: 26 goals in 99 apps
Tournaments: Euros (1 Goal at Sweden 2013)
Dark Horse: Stina Blackstenius
Odds to win: 20/1
Few experts are building Sweden up as potential Euro winners this summer, but they have quietly matured into one of the world’s most consistent sides in recent years. They are led by Arsenal’s Stina Blackstenius, who could become Swedish football’s first female superstar if she can bring her A-game to the European Championships.
Having transferred from BK Hacken to Arsenal earlier this year, the 26-year-old hit the ground running in the WSL, scoring six goals in her first 11 matches. Her reputation within the game was well-established before the move, as Blackstenius scored five goals for Sweden as they won the silver medal at the 2020 Olympic Games. Her finishing ability and general link-up play in the final third have helped transform the Scandinavians into serious contenders.
International Record: 25 goals in 76 apps
Tournaments: World Cup (2 Goals at France 2019), Euros (2 Goals at Netherlands 2017)
While it’s tricky to call who will take home the coveted golden boot award, we can look at the potential opponents that each of the leading contenders will face in the group stage to help us deduce who might rack up the most goals.
On paper, England look to have the easiest group out of the major nations, as the Lionesses will play Norway, Austria, and Northern Ireland in Group A. Provided she plays in all three ties, Ellen White will have an excellent opportunity to get in the goals, as Northern Ireland (the lowest-ranked side at Euro 2022) have been convincingly beaten by England in their last three meetings.
That said, we also shouldn’t underestimate the impact that Katoto could have on Euro 2022. Les Bleus may not have enough defensive quality to win the competition. Still, their attacking talent rivals that of any nation and having been drawn in a very winnable group (consisting of Sweden, Switzerland and Portugal), the 23-year-old sharpshooter could run White close for the golden boot.
Much like the bookies, we predict that a strong group stage showing will see White end the soccer tournament with the most goals to her name.