Who said that football can’t come home this summer? While the Three Lions look to take Qatar by storm in the winter it’s a great opportunity for the Lionesses to showcase their footballing credentials. In just less than a week we can look forward to sun filled nights with football on our screens as our talented ladies attempt to lift the Euro trophy and bring football home.
Being a host nation of course comes with certain pressures, but in many cases the pros can outweigh the cons - just ask England manager Sarina Weigman. In Weigman the Lionesses have a manager who won this trophy in the latest edition of the Euro’s with the Netherlands, who were also a host nation at the time. Since the departure of Phil Neville as manager, Sarina has taken this England team to another level. It is evident that there has been a lot of work behind the scenes on tactics and coaching, and there is much more purpose in our gameplay; we are now utilizing our strengths in the wider areas which in turn has added more goals to the side.
New blood has been integrated into the team to compliment the older guard, resulting in a squad that is packed with talent in all positions. However, all of this should come as no surprise, this is exactly the reason Sarina was hired. In 2017 she took a Dutch squad that was low on confidence and turned them into Euro winners the very same year, furthermore she led them to a World Cup final in 2019 in their next major tournament. In the 14 games under Weigman’s tenure, England have won on 12 occasions and drawn twice. During this impressive unbeaten run, England have recorded a national record 20-0 victory over Latvia in addition to beating the Netherlands 5-1 and Germany 3-1.
The recent struggles of Gareth Southgate’s team and the negativity of the last set of Nations League fixtures could play into the hands of our women if they start the tournament well. There has already been a 140% rise in viewership of Women’s sport in the first half of 2022, and a good campaign will only boost the emergence of Women’s football. Should we get through the group stages we will likely be met by Germany in the quarter finals - a team who have won six of the last seven UEFA Euro Championships. We can take confidence in the fact that we took a victory over the Germans in the Arnold Clark Cup; and if we take that victory again this is where our tournament will really begin.
The Lionesses don’t have a particularly good Euro’s track record over the years; the trophy is yet to reach the British Isles. We have managed to reach two finals; the first back in 1984 in the inaugural two-legged final which saw us lose to Sweden on penalties, in the days when it was a four team tournament. Our second final appearance came in 2009, where Hope Powell’s side were beaten 6-2 by Germany. We have come closer in more of our recent tournaments, having reached the semi-finals in all of our last 3 major tournaments, including a Euro’s final where we soundly beaten by Sarina Weigman’s Netherlands side 3-0.
England kick the tournament off at Old Trafford on Wednesday the 6th of July against Austria. They will both play in Group A, alongside Norway and Northern Ireland.
Wednesday 6th July 2022 20:00 GMT - England vs Austria
Monday 11th July 2022 20:00 GMT - England vs Norway
Friday 15th July 2022 20:00 GMT - Northern Ireland vs England
Key players to watch
Leah Williamson - The captains’ armband comes with a lot of responsibility, and considering she only took the band on a permanent basis in April of this year, this will be her first major test. She will need to rely upon her leadership qualities to drive this talented yet raw England side. Although she doesn’t hold the captain’s position for Arsenal, Sarina Weigman clearly sees Leah as the standard bearer for this squad, with the necessary attributes to lead them to a first major trophy. On the field it is evident to see the levels that Williamson commands from her team,
and her ability to physically stamp her mark on a game could be vital to us as we encounter tougher opponents in the knockout stages.
Lauren Hemp - Having been voted PFA young player of the year in four of the last five seasons, Lauren Hemp will be in the nightmares of every defender coming into this tournament. She has firmly established herself as a key player in England’s attacking trio, and comes in off the back of another productive campaign with Manchester City - providing 20 goals and 10 assists over 36 appearances. Hemp can carry the ball at a pace that most players could only dream of, and she is rightly regarded as one of Europe’s brightest talents.
Realistically, this could be the best chance England have ever had of lifting a major trophy. They enter the tournament as one of the favourites, and they will be hoping that home advantage can help guide them to a first major trophy. With a group that looks like it should be comfortable for us to navigate our way through, the Lionesses are priced at 4/11 to win Group A.
William Hill are offering ‘Top Price Guaranteed’ on England to win the Euros for existing customers, and have even boosted the odds from 4/1 to 5/1 for the hosts to lift the trophy.
If you fancy taking a punt on who will win the Golden Boot then Ellen White is likely England’s best shot. She is currently priced at 11/2 to finish the tournament with the most goals, however this is another selection that William Hill have boosted, and White is currently available at 7/1 to lift the Golden Boot trophy.