UEFA WOMAN’S EURO 2017 PREVIEW
It’s the 12th edition of the woman’s European Championships, which will be held in the Netherlands and will run from July 16th to August 6th.
Woman’s football has really come a long way over the years and it continues to grow and improve. This tournament is further indication of this as this year the tournament has expanded from 12 to 16 teams, allowing five nations to make their tournament debuts.
The first tournament was in 1984 and it ran every two years until 1997, where it changed to every four years. Germany have won the tournament eight times including the last six and once as West Germany in 1989. The other winners have been Norway twice and Sweden in the inaugural tournament.
Below is my team by team preview and predictions
Star Player: Tessa Wullaert
One to Watch: Janice Cayman
Belgium qualified for this tournament as group runners-up, five points behind England. Their only defeat was to England, however they were the only team to take points off England in a 1-1 away draw. They are entering their first Euro championships and proved in qualifying they are certainly no pushovers.
They are led by their very experienced captain Aline Zeller who is a striker turned defender. Belgium play conventional, controlled football where they try to get the ball up to their strikers Wullaert & Cayman who are undoubtably their two best players. If they are supplied with ammunition then they could have a chance of getting out the group
Fifa Rank: 22
Prediction: Group Stages
Star Player: Pernille Harder
One to Watch: Nadia Nadim
Best: Semi Final 1984, 2001, 2013
The Danes qualified for this tournament as runners-up in their group, two points behind Sweden. They only conceded one goal in their eight games and that was away to the league winners. They are playing in their ninth championships but will be hard pressed to equal their surprise SF appearance in 2013.
Denmark are known to be a very attacking outfit with more emphasis on width, as they like to deploy wing backs or wide players to supply and create chances for their formidable skipper, Harder up front. However, Nadim also proved lethal and both finished joint third top scorers in qualifying. Denmark also have defenders Roddick & Sorenson. Also midfielders Veje and Neilsen who could be huge contributors.
Fifa Rank: 15
Predictions: Group Stages
Star Player: Lieke Martens
One to Watch: Vivianne Miedema
Best: Semi Finals 2009
The hosts are appearing in their third European Championships and are looking to ignite the home crowd and galvanise a nations support. Ever since they finished bottom of their group in 2013, they have been on a renaissance and this tournament is the culmination of that. They are hoping to make a positive impact with their own brand of total football.
Although Barca midfielder Martins is the main girl who pulls the strings from midfield and generally dictates play. The potential star is 21-year-old new Arsenal striker Miedema, who had a formidable scoring record for Bayern, also has for country and scored the winner in the 2014 under 19’s championships. They will be supported by Arsenal play maker Van de Donk, Groening, skipper Van den Berg in defence and van de Sanden up front.
Fifa Rank: 12
Predictions: Quarter Finals
Star Player: Maren Mjelde
One to Watch: Ada Hegerberg
Best: Winners 1987, 1993
Norway are the only other team in Europe to have pedigree as they have won this tournament twice. However, the last time was in 1993. Their 10 appearances at this tournament is the joint most. They qualified as group winners, 3 points from Austria and recorded the joint 3rd biggest victory which was a 10-0 win against Kazakhstan.
They are a solid, experienced outfit who generally like to play direct, no-nonsense football but have the ability to be versatile. Led by skipper Mjelde, who is a strong defender or DM. They have an abundance of goals in Hegerberg who finished joint top scorer in qualifying with 10 goals and Herlovsen who finished joint third top scorer with 7. They are also supported Hansen in midfield and experienced goalkeeper Ingrid Helmseth.
Fifa Rank: 11
Predictions: Quarter Final
Star Player: Dzsenifer Marozsan
One to Watch: Leonie Maier
Best: Winners 89, 91, 95, 97, 01, 05, 09, 13
The formidable Germans qualified with a perfect record, winning all eight of their games, 10 points ahead of Russia. They scored the second most in qualifying 35 without conceding and any. They also recorded the second biggest win in qualifying with a 12-0 win against Hungary. The Germans are also coming off winning Olympic gold in Rio 2016 and are obviously the highest ranked Fifa team in the tournament.
Captain Marozsan is the best player in the team and even with some key players missing, they have an abundance of talent in GK Schult. defenders Henning & Maier who has an eye for goal. Midfielders Goebling & Dabritz. Also strikers Mittag & Islacker. The Germans play neat and tidy football that cuts through their opponents, creating chances galore and it will take a really, really good outfit to stop them claiming a seventh title in a row.
Fifa Rank: 2
Star Player: Melanie Gabbiadini
One to watch: Manuela Giugliano
Best: Runners Up 1993, 1997
The Italians have made the joint most appearances at this tournament with 10, so will be upset that they have yet to taste victory. They qualified as runners-up, six points behind winners Switzerland, losing home and away to them. They reached the QF in 2013 and only lost to a narrow 1-0 defeat to the eventual winners Germany.
It’s no surprise that the Italians rely on a solid and organised defence. They like to stay compact then burst into life upfront with some skilful attackers. Skipper Gabbiandini will be relied upon to provide goals, but will be supported by fellow strikers Mauro & Girelli. In midfield they have a gem. 19-year-old Giugliano is tipped for great things and already has a superb scoring record. Also in midfield is the experienced Stracchi. In defence they have the likes of Bartoli and Gama but realistically Italy will have a task on just to make it out the group.
Fifa Rank: 18
Prediction: Group Stages
Star Player: Elena Danilova
One to Watch: Nadezhda Karpova
Best: Quarter Finals 1993, 1995
Russia like to do things the hard way as they qualified runners-up to Germany, 10 points behind and only made it though by scoring one more goal than Romania to avoid a final play off. However, they will be upset to find themselves in the same group as the Germans. They have the unfortunate experience in 2013 of not going through to the knockout stages, by losing via the drawing of lots to Denmark (I kid you not).
Russian are the second lowest Fifa ranked team in the tournament and have a mix of experience and inexperienced players which was reflected in their indifferent qualifying form. They have also unfortunately lost their captain and a key defender due to injury. However, the experienced Danilova and young Karpova will both be relied upon to provide goals. They will also be supported by defender Makarenko also midfielders Morozova, Cholovyaga & Chernomyrdina but it will be a tough task to get out of the group.
Fifa Rank: 25
Prediction: Group Stages
Star Player: Caroline Seger
One to Watch: Kosovare Asllani
Best: Winner 1984
Sweden won the inaugural tournament and have competed in nine previous Euro championships. In 2013 they lost to Germany 1-0 in the semi finals and have reached at least the SF’s in 5 of the last 6 tournaments. They qualified as group winners, 3 points ahead of Denmark, winning 7 and losing 1 which was their last game after they had already qualified.
Sweden have some vastly experienced players in the squad and are fresh off a silver medal in Rio2016. They are led by their skipper Seger in midfield, who pulls the strings. But will also rely on the abilities of Man City midfielder Asllani. Sweden sometimes struggle for goals and will hope the experienced Schelin and inexperienced Bayern striker Rolfo can fix that while defenders Fischer and Sembrant can keep it tight at the back.
Fifa Rank: 9
Predictions: Semi Final
Star Player: Nina Berger
One to Watch: Laura Feiersinger
The Austrians are competing in their first European Championships and in fact have qualified for their first ever major tournament. They qualified as runners-up, five points behind Norway. Austria are currently at their highest ever Fifa rank and are the third lowest ranked team in the tournament.
The Austrians very much rely on a team ethic and are a flexible hard-working outfit. Led by skipper Schnaderbeck, along with fellow Bayern defender Wenninger who will be relied upon to be strong at the back. Feiersinger will be pulling the strings in midfield with help from prohaska & Zadrizil. Upfront Berger will be needed to score the goals along with Billa & Makas. However, it will be stretch for them to not finish bottom of the group.
Fifa Rank: 24
Prediction: Group Stages
Star Player: Eugenie Le Sommer
One to Watch: Camille Abily
Best: Quarter Final 2009, 2013
With their level of experienced, quality footballers. Over the past decade or so, France have been the perennial underachievers. It’s amazing to think that they have never reached a Euro semi final, let alone final. They qualified in typical dominant fashion. Eight points ahead of Romania. Winning all eight games, scoring 27 without conceding a single goal and are the second highest Fifa ranked team in the tournament.
They have a new coach since September and the improvements seem to be evident with a more dominant, possession style of play and clinical finishing. Led by captain and classy defender Wendie Renard. With fellow defender Georges for support along with Lyon GK Bouhaddi. In midfield Abily pulls the strings with support from Bussaglia. Upfront they have the goals of Le Sommer who finished joint second top scorer in qualifying with 8. Other key attacking players are Delie and Thomis in a formation that’s interchangeable.
Fifa Rank: 3
Prediction: Semi Final
Star Player: Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir
One to Watch: Harpa Porsteinsdottir
Best: Quarter Final 2013
Due to the successes of both the male and female’s, Iceland football is in the midst of a golden era and the woman are big contributors to this. They have qualified for their third Euro’s and will hope to at least equal their QF finish in 2013. They won their group but was pushed all the way, finishing on equal points with Scotland but won the group via goal difference. Their only dropped points was a 2-1 home defeat to Scotland, which was the only game in the group they conceded a goal.
They are another who rely on the strength in the team and try keep a solid, tight, compact and specific system with everyone working for each other, especially to not concede goals. Captain Gunnarsdottir leads from midfield and pulls the strings. Upfront Porsteinsdottir finished qualifying joint top scorer with 10 goals which included two hat tricks. Midfielder Brynjarsdottir finished joint third in qualifying with 7. Iceland could be ones to watch.
Fifa Rank: 19
Prediction: Group Stages
Star Player: Ramona Bachmann
One to Watch: Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic
The Swiss woman are really in a golden era. After qualifying for their first major tournament and making it to the last 16 of World Cup 2015. They qualified for their second major tournament and first Euro’s as surprise dominant winners of their group, six points ahead of Italy, winning all eight games, scoring the third most in qualifying 34 and conceding 3.
Switzerland have a really good blend of young and older players and look a dangerous team going forward. Chelsea forward Bachmann is their key player scoring the goals. However, Crnogorcevic is as popular off the field as she is on it. She is striker by trade by plays RWB for national team and takes penalties. She finished joint third top scorer with 7. Other contributors are Defender Abbe. Experienced midfielders Dickenmann & Moser. Also Humm and 18-year-old Reuteler in support up front.
Fifa Rank: 17
Prediction: Quarter Finals
Star Player: Karen Carney
One to Watch: Toni Duggan
Best: Runners Up 1984, 2009
After a spirited performance at the World Cup where they beat Germany to finish third. They will come into this tournament full of hope. They qualified by finishing five points ahead of Belgium, winning all but one of their eight games, a 1-1 home draw with Belgium, which was the only goal they conceded in qualifying. England are the third highest Fifa ranked team in the tournament.
England come into this tournament full of confidence and have some vastly experienced players. Karen Carney has taken over from Fara Williams as the main/key player. But they have key performers throughout in defenders, skipper Houghton, Alex Scott and Stoney. Midfielders Jill Scott & Nobbs. Upfront White, Taylor and soon to be Barca player Toni Duggan. For this team anything less than a final appearance will be disappointing.
Fifa Rank: 5
Prediction: Runner Up
Star Player: Claudia Neto
One to Watch: Andreia Norton
Portugal women continued the euphoria of football in their country by qualifying for their first major tournament. They certainly did it the hard way by finishing joint second with Finland, a massive 11 points behind Spain. They had a worst goal difference by one than Finland but qualified via a better head to head with a 3-2 home win a 0-0 away draw. As one of the two worst second placed records, they was then place in a play off with Romania where after a 0-0 home draw, they advanced via an away goal via a second leg 1-1 draw AET.
Portugal’s biggest hope is to stay tight and counter teams. Their captain Neto is the key component to this and is their go to girl. In defence Cost and Rebelo will need to be strong. With support from the likes of Borges and Silva in midfield and young 20-year-old Norton who scored the goal to get them here. Also, Luis and Mendes up front. Portugal are the lowest ranked team at the tournament so getting to this stage is an achievement in itself.
Fifa Rank: 38
Prediction: Group Stages
Star Player: Gemma Fay
One to Watch: Jane Ross
Although they have qualified for their first major tournament. They must be little annoyed to not win the group via goal difference to Iceland and will still be upset by their home 4-0 defeat to them, which was the only game in the group they did not win. However they recorded the joint third biggest win with a 10-0 victory against Macedonia. Unfortunately they are coming into this tournament missing three key players through injury.
In order to progress from the group, they will need their skipper and goalkeeper Gemma Fay to be on top form. Scotland try to play direct football to get the ball up to clinical star striker Ross, who finished joint top scorer in qualifying with 10 goals. In support, Scotland will call on defenders Dieke & Murray. Midfielders Leanne Ross, Weir & Love. As well as Evens up front. Scotland could really push England and Spain for a knockout place.
Fifa Rank: 21
Prediction: Group Stages
Star Player: Jennifer Hermoso
One to Watch: Victoria Losada
Best: Semi Final 1997
Spain qualified with the biggest margin in any group. 11 points ahead of Scotland and Finland. Winning all eight of their games, scoring the most in the qualifiers 39 and conceding only 2 goals. They also recorded the biggest win in the qualifiers a 13-0 win against Montenegro. This will only be the third Euro’s they will be competing in.
Though Spain qualified for the 2015 World Cup, their poor performance saw their long-standing manager depart. Now with a new manager and idea’s, they are feeling more confident. With former captain and star veteran striker Boquete’s surprise omission from the squad, more emphasis with be on new PSG signing Hermoso to step up. She will need support from defenders, new captain Terrejon also Peredes. Midfielders, the skilful Losada also Putellas & Sampedro where getting to the knockout stages has to be a realistic goal.