Anticipation for UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 has grown following last night’s draw for the group stage.
The 16 teams contesting the tournament were sorted into four groups during a glamorous night in Manchester, with footballing stars such as Kelly Smith, Camille Abily, Karen Carney, Rúben Dias and Juan Mata all on hand for the draw.
England, automatically in Group A as hosts, discovered they would play Austria, Norway and Northern Ireland.
Eight-time winners Germany were drawn in Group B alongside Denmark, Spain and Finland, with defending champions The Netherlands set to play Sweden, Russia and Switzerland in Group C. France, Italy, Belgium and Italy were sorted into Group D.
The Lionesses, currently ranked eighth in the world, are one of the favourites to win Euro 2022, especially given their home advantage.
GiveMeSport Women takes a look at their Group A opponents, and assesses their chances of reaching the knockout stage.
England will begin their Euro 2022 campaign against Austria at Old Trafford on July 6th.
Austria, ranked world number 21, made their tournament debut at Euro 2017. They were the dark horses of the competition, progressing all the way to the semi-finals, losing only then to Denmark on penalties.
England were also semi-finalists at Euro 2017, falling to hosts and eventual winners, The Netherlands.
The Lionesses will be extremely familiar with Austria by the time Euro 2022 comes around – both teams are in the same 2023 World Cup qualifying group. They play next month on November 27th.
Austria boasts a number of star names, including Arsenal goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger and Bayern Munich defender Carina Wenninger. But this will likely not be enough to get past the host nation at Euro 2022.
It’s fair to call Norway a team England are used to playing at major tournaments. The two teams met in the round of 16 at the 2015 World Cup, followed by a quarter-final clash at the World Cup in 2019.
The Lionesses were triumphant both times, winning 2-1 in 2015 and 3-0 in 2019. This time they meet in the group stage, and Norway, ranked 12th in the world, will be out for revenge.
They are well used to competing on the European stage, playing at the tournament 11 times and triumphing at Euro 1987 and Euro 1993.
With star players such as Barcelona’s Ingrid Syrstad Engen and Caroline Graham Hansen, Chelsea’s Guro Reiten and Arsenal’s Frida Manuum, Norway will be the team most likely to defeat England in Group A.
The two sides will meet at the Amex in Brighton on July 11th.
Applause rang out across the room last night as the inevitable happened – England were drawn against Northern Ireland, the other Home Nation competing at Euro 2022.
Tournament debutantes Northern Ireland are in the same World Cup qualifying group as the Lionesses and Austria, giving a feel of familiarity to Group A.
The side played just England last week, losing 4-0 at Wembley, but they will be boosted by a 2-2 result against Austria earlier this month.
The world number 48 team have often shown they can hold their own against sides far above them in the rankings, and manager Kenny Shiels will be hoping for much of the same at Euro 2022.
If Liverpool’s Rachel Furness and Everton’s Simone Magill are fit and available for selection, Northern Ireland could indeed spring a surprise or two at next year’s tournament. Could this happen against England at St Mary's on July 15th?
The Lionesses avoided a draw against Spain or Sweden, and will be confident of topping Group A as a result. Anything less than a second-place finish would be seen as a major disappointment.
If they are to progress to the knockout stage, England will not have an easy route to the final. Their quarter-final opponent will be from Group B – the Group of Death – and would most likely be Germany or Spain.
France, Sweden or The Netherlands could then await in the semi-finals. Of course, it is impossible to predict how things will turn out, but England will have to be at the very top of their game to book a place in the Euro 2022 final at Wembley on July 31st.News Now - Sport News