It’s coming home! For one month at least, as England hosts the UEFA Women’s Euros for the second time in 17 years.
England find themselves among the favourites to lift the trophy on the 31st of July, but just how likely are their chances?
Historically, England have become a close but not close enough side, reaching the semi-final in three of the last four major international tournaments. Their best performance was a bronze medal at the 2015 World Cup, where they were narrowly defeated in the semi-final by Japan thanks to a stoppage-time own-goal. The Lionesses have failed to win either the Euros or World Cup, reaching the final on two occasions in the Women’s Championship.
New Manager Bounce
This new-look England, now managed by former tournament winner Sarina Wiegman, is a far cry from the Phil Neville days. After leading her native Netherlands to Euros glory in 2017, she took the reigns at England in 2021 and is yet to taste defeat. In the 14 games she has taken charge of, England have won 12 and drawn twice.
Wiegman took charge of England’s World Cup qualifying campaign where the Lionesses looked like perfection. In eight games played, England took home all 24 points in eight wins: scoring 68 times and not conceding a single goal. Three 10-0 wins and even a 20-0 win against Latvia, showcased to the world just how devastating England can be under their new coach
So, why Sarina Wiegman? 🤔
The @FA's director of women's football explains all:
— Lionesses (@Lionesses) August 14, 2020
Nine players will be taking part in their first-ever major international tournament, which should blend nicely with some of the mainstays of the Lionesses team like Lucy Bronze, Jill Scott, Fran Kirby, and Beth Mead.
It makes Wiegman’s job easier to focus on youth in a tournament when her talent pool boasts such young talent. Lauren Hemp typifies this sentiment as she is included in the squad on the back of her PFA Young Player of the Year award in the WSL.
The experience of four tournament veteran Jill Scott, and leading goalscorer Ellen White will be invaluable for this young and hungry side that Wiegman has created.
— Lionesses (@Lionesses) June 26, 2022
The Lionesses will be very familiar with the group that they have been drawn in. Participating in Group A, England can look forward to ties against Norway, Northern Ireland and Austria. Both Northern Ireland and Austria were unfortunate enough to tussle with the rampant England team in the recent World Cup qualifiers.
England have a spotless record against Austria, defeating them on all five occasions that they have met. The same fate has also met Northern Ireland, who have fallen victim to England on three occasions. All eight of these fixtures have not only seen England win, but win to nil.
Norway pose the biggest threat to Wiegman’s side who have defeated England twice. However, England have been victorious in three out of the five matches played.
The knockout rounds are where England will face their toughest tests. It is very likely that they will meet either eight-time champions Germany or a Spanish side boasting Ballon d’Or Feminin winner Alexia Putellas and runner-up Jennifer Hermoso.
Whilst tournament football can often be tough to predict, if outright betting odds are followed, a matchup with the defending champions Netherlands will be waiting.
A blockbuster clash with Wiegman facing the side she guided to glory five years ago. If the Lionesses are able to navigate this tricky run, a tie with France could await. A side that will include players from the Champions League-winning Lyon team.
The only other team tipped to have a legitimate chance at glory is Sweden. The 2021 Olympic semi-finalists progressed further than any European side in that tournament which was the most recent international showcase of women’s tournament football.
🥈 It didn't go Sweden's way today, but football has been the big winner thanks to their thrilling performances at #Tokyo2020
— FIFA Women's World Cup (@FIFAWWC) August 6, 2021
The Netherlands were able to use home advantage five years ago to overcome the odds under Sarina Weigman, This time, England are looking to capture that same magic with the same conditions and manager.
It will be a difficult and arduous task to win a tournament brimming with talented sides, all with their own claim as to why they are the rightful champions-to-be. However, there is only one side that can bring it home; England.