The start of the Women’s Euro 2022 tournament is upon us, with England hoping home advantage proves key when they get the event under way against Austria on July 6.
Wembley will host the tournament’s final with 16 teams taking each on over the month.
Here, we take a look at some of the sides that will be expecting to feature in the final.
Narrow favourites in the betting odds, Spain only reached the quarter-finals at the last Women’s Euros but they are being tipped to go further this time out.
Spain qualified easily, winning seven of their eight games with a huge goal difference to reach the finals. Jennifer Hermoso hit 10 goals during qualifying but the forward, who recently announced she is leaving Barcelona to join Mexican club Pachuca on a free transfer, will be absent due to injury. Replacing Hermoso’s goals will be a major challenge for Spain as a result but Alexia Putellas, the reigning UEFA Women’s Player of the Year, is one of the top talents in the tournament and goalscoring midfielder Aitana Bonmati is another player to watch out for.
Just as dominant during qualifying were France, who hit 44 goals in their eight matches and did not concede a single goal in Group G, with that strong defence the bedrock of the side.
France have gone out in the last eight at each Women’s Euros, but there are signs that 2022 could be the year that they manage to take a step or two forward from that poor record.
Captain Wendie Renard is widely regarded as one of the most dominant defenders in the women’s game and she is a huge threat from attacking set pieces as well.
Corinne Diacre coaches France, with the team’s former captain and record appearance maker able to call upon stars such as Marie-Antoinette Katoto, who has 19 goals in only 23 caps so far.
Winners in the Women’s Euro 2017 final on home soil, many expect the Dutch side will have a great chance of retaining their title after recording 10 wins from 10 games in qualifying. They have a different coach, however, with Mark Parsons having taken over from Sarina Weigman.
Sherida Spitse’s 10 goals in qualifying ensure that the Dutch captain – who recently won her 200th cap for the Netherlands – can be considered a contender to win this year’s Golden Boot. Arsenal star Vivianne Miedema is another player who is expected to shine in the tournament.
Having dominated the women’s game by winning five straight European crowns between 1995 and 2013, it would be no surprise at all to see Germany ascend to the throne once again.
Being drawn in Group B with Spain means Germany face an early test of their mettle, however, with coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg drawing on her experience of winning this tournament four times during her playing days.
Voss-Tecklenburg has set Germany a target of reaching at least the semi-finals this summer.
A surprisingly good showing at the Olympics in Tokyo, where Sweden won the silver medal, means they go into the Women’s Euros as one of the most fancied sides in the competition.
Sweden’s star names include Stina Blackstenius, who was a key performer in her side’s run to the semi-finals of the Women’s World Cup in 2019. Hanna Bennison is just 19 but the Everton midfielder has the talent to become one of the greatest players in the world.
Coach Peter Gerhardsson has made his team extremely hard to beat. Sweden have not lost any match in normal time for three years and that resilience will have them in good shape.
The hosts sent a message to the competition with a stunning 5-1 defeat of holders Netherlands in a friendly at Elland Road, with the appointment of Weigman as coach another sign of intent.
England striker Ellen White missed that game after a positive Covid test and much rests on her shoulders. White is one of the top goalscorers in the game, having found the net six times at the Olympics for the Great Britain team. She has also scored 50 goals in 105 games for England.
Manchester City team-mate Lauren Hemp is another thrilling attacker to look out for while Fran Kirby has the talent to win any game for England too. England, however, will be without the experience of former captain Steph Houghton, whose injury issues saw the defender left out.
Runners-up in both 1984 and 2009, England have a decent chance of going all the way.