Football

England Women: Euro 2013 preview

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Powell will aim to lead England to glory (©GettyImages)
Powell will aim to lead England to glory (©GettyImages).

So despite there being no World Cup or European Championships for the men's game this summer, focus turns to the English women, who are involved in the Women's European Championships in Sweden this month.

Hope Powell's side went unbeaten in their qualifying campaign, winning six and drawing two to top their group ahead of the Netherlands.

Four years ago, Powell took her ladies to the final in the 2009 European Championship final in Finland where they were convincingly beaten 6-2 by Germany, a side who are a dominant force in the women's game.

England, though, have come a long way since then, and although they will be one of the favourites for the tournament, face a tough task to get out of their group.

They begin their tournament facing Spain on 12 July, before playing Russia on the 15 July and finishing their group against France on 18 July.

England will need to play to their best if they are to progress as they face stiff competition to get out of their group. In the last women’s World Cup in 2011, England were dumped out by France in the quarter-finals on penalties despite leading the game until the 88th minute.

The last time England faced Russia in a major competition was back in 2009 at the European Championships, where a mad first half saw England win 3-2 with all five goals coming in the first 45 minutes.

As for Spain, England have not faced them since 2010, when they met in the qualifying campaign for the 2011 World Cup and England won their home game 1-0 and in the away fixture in Spain the teams drew 2-2.

All three games will be a tough test for England, but with a squad mixed with experience and youth, there is a very good chance of getting out of the group.

Powell has selected a squad where seven of the 23 will be playing in their fifth tournament. Goalkeeper Rachel Brown and striker Kelly Smith will be playing in their seventh finals, and the pair will be critical in any success England may have in Sweden.

Alongside them, Rachel Yankey, who was overlooked in 2009, has been selected and recently achieved her 119th cap, a figure that makes her the leading appearance holder in English football (both men and women).

Liverpool Ladies are represented in the squad as centre-backs Gemma Bonner and Lucy Bronze both earn a call-up in what will be their first tournaments.

The pair have been excellent in Liverpool’s excellent start to the WSL this season and deservedly take their place in the 23-strong squad. Other than the selections of Bonner and Bronze, Powell has selected a squad that sees a number of familiar faces including Arsenal defender Steph Houghton, and Everton central midfielder Jill Scott.

The tournament begins on the 10 July, with the first game featuring Italy up against Finland, followed by hosts Sweden, who take on Denmark.

There are 12 teams competing in Sweden, split into three groups. The top two teams in each group automatically qualify for the quarter-finals, with the two best third place teams making up the eight.

England will fancy their chances of success having made the final back in 2009. Getting to the final though won’t be easy with Germany, Italy, France and hosts Sweden all in with a good chance.

If you require a football fix before the season begins, then the women’s European Championships is just what you need.

 

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