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Ranking the 8 teams most likely to win the Euros

Spain, England and Netherlands are among the favourites.

8. Denmark

viborg-denmark-12th-apr-2022-stine-larsen-12-of-denmark-scores-for-1-0-and-celebrating-with-the-team-during-the-womens-world-cup-qualifier-between-denmark-and-azerbaijan-at-viborg-stadion-in-vi Source: Alamy Stock Photo

This eighth spot was a very tight call between the teams ranked 14th and 15th in the world respectively — Italy and Denmark. The initial temptation was to go with Italy. Denmark could well exit at the first hurdle, given that they have been drawn in the group of death with two of the favourites, Spain and Germany, as well as Finland. The Azzurri, meanwhile, should at least make it to the quarter-finals, as they prepare for games with France, Belgium and Iceland. However, the Danes probably have a slightly better chance of winning outright. They are captained by one of the best players in the world in Chelsea’s Pernille Harder. They also have a history of exceeding expectations in this tournament — they were semi-finalists in 1984, 1991, 1993, 2001 and 2013, while they only lost in the final in 2017 to the Netherlands, who also ended their qualification hopes for the last World Cup, as they were beaten in the playoffs.

7. Norway

sandefjord-20220407-norways-ada-martine-stolsmo-hegerberg-scores-her-first-goal-for-norway-since-the-break-from-the-national-team-during-the-world-cup-qualifier-for-women-between-norway-and-kosovo-at Source: Alamy Stock Photo

Having won the Euros twice (1987 and 1993), the World Cup (1995) and the Olympics (2000), Norway have an incredible history in women’s football. However, their record has been less impressive recently. They did not get out of the group stages at the last Euros, while they were well beaten 3-0 by England in the quarter-finals of the 2019 World Cup. Problems off the field meant that Lyon striker Ada Hegerberg — widely regarded as one of the best to have ever played the game and the current all-time Champions League top scorer — opted to take a lengthy break from international football. Yet in March, she ended her five-year exile from the national team and promptly scored a hat-trick in her comeback game — a 5-1 World Cup qualifying win against Kosovo. They also have another world-class talent in the form of Barcelona’s Caroline Graham Hansen. Overall though, their squad is among the weakest of the teams listed in this article, so it would certainly be a shock were they to repeat the extraordinary feats of ’87 and ’93. A quarter-final exit is altogether more likely, as should they finish second to England in their group, and they will then probably be paired with Spain in the last eight.

6. Germany

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Appearing at the tournament for the 11th time, Germany most definitely have history on their side. They have won this competition an incredible eight times. To put that achievement in context — there have only ever been three other winners: Norway (twice), Sweden (once) and Netherlands (once). Moreover, they won back-to-back World Cups in 2003 and 2007. Yet despite their proud history, they have disappointed (by their high standards) in recent tournaments, only making it to the quarter-finals at both the last Euros and World Cup. Their current squad is one of the more inexperienced of the top teams, with only five players having earned 50 caps or more. They have also endured a tough time of late, winning just two of their six matches in 2022, including an important World Cup qualifier against Serbia. Nevertheless, with their pedigree, they still deserve to be considered among the dark horses, though it would be a surprise to see them repeat past glories, with other squads having superior individual players to choose from. 

5. Netherlands

enschede-lr-victoria-pelova-of-holland-women-sherida-spitse-of-holland-women-lieke-martens-of-holland-women-danielle-van-de-donk-of-holland-women-vivianne-miedema-of-holland-women-celebrate-th Source: Alamy Stock Photo

The current holders after they triumphed in 2017, Netherlands’ rise has been relatively swift when you consider that they only made their debut in the competition in 2009, while their first World Cup appearance did not come until 2015, and they made it all the way to the final four years later. Their squad has incredible experience — 12 of the 23 have 50 caps or more, while four have over 100 caps. Sherida Spitse, who was first called up as a 16-year-old during the Vera Pauw era, recently won her 200th cap. Among the other standouts is Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema, who at just 25 is already her country’s all-time top scorer, the all-time Women’s Super League leading scorer since its inception in 2011 and is widely regarded as one of the best footballers in the world. One person who is not particularly experienced at international level, however, is English coach Mark Parsons. He is less than a year in the role, succeeding current Three Lions boss Sarina Wiegman, and agreeing to take charge on the condition that he could finish the 2021 NWSL season with Portland Thorns.

4. Sweden

sweden-celebrate-qualifying-for-the-world-cup Source: Fredrik Jonasson/INPHO

The second-best side in the world if the Fifa rankings are to be believed and a team that have already booked their place in the World Cup, with a draw against Vera Pauw’s Ireland securing their spot in the upcoming tournament last April. They have a tendency to perform well relative to their population in major tournaments. They won the first-ever incarnation of the Euros in 1984, while they have been runners-up three times since then, and also won silver at the last two Olympics. How far can they go this time around? Much could depend on their opening game with Netherlands. If they win, they will likely have an easier passage in the knockout stages, while a loss would likely lead to a daunting quarter-final encounter with France. But with world-class stars at their disposal, including Stina Blackstenius (BK Hacken), Fridolina Rolfö (Barcelona), Hanna Glas (Bayern Munich), Kosovare Asllani (AC Milan) and Magdalena Eriksson (Chelsea), they are capable of going far and possibly even all the way.

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3. France

team-france-poses-before-the-international-womens-friendly-football-match-between-france-and-vietnam-on-july-1-2022-at-stade-de-la-source-in-orleans-france-photo-jean-catuffedppilivemedia Source: Alamy Stock Photo

Found it tough going at the last World Cup with much expected of them as hosts — they were beaten by USA in the quarter-finals after some unconvincing displays. Nonetheless, they still deserve to be considered among the favourites in the coming weeks. Five of their squad will be coming into this tournament with the boost of having won the Champions League with Lyon just over a month ago. They will be led by the imposing figure of Wendie Renard, widely regarded as one of the best defenders in the world. The 31-year-old’s remarkable record speaks for itself, with 14 league titles and eight Champions League triumphs (all with Lyon) to date. There is plenty of talent elsewhere too. In addition to Renard, Marie-Antoinette Katoto (PSG) and Kadidiatou Diani (PSG) made it into the top 50 of The Guardian’s most recent list of the world’s best footballers, as did Lyon’s Eugénie Le Sommer and Amandine Henry, although the latter pair are among the players controversially left out owing primarily to internal tensions between coach Corinne Diacre and some players. But regardless of these issues, Les Bleus have been in superb form recently, winning their last 14 consecutive matches, with their most recent defeat a 2-0 friendly loss to the USA in April 2021. Currently ranked third in the world, if they can continue to forget about the recent off-field turmoil, they will be very tough to beat.

2. England

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Undoubtedly one of the most talented squads in the tournament, England are further bolstered by home advantage. Given that they have in recent times anyway been one of the strongest European nations when it comes to support for women’s football and in the WSL, boast one of the top club competitions in the world, it is surprising that they have still yet to win an official major tournament. Their best performance at the World Cup was a third-place finish in 2018, while at the Euros, they have been runners-up twice, albeit one of those instances was in 1984 when only 16 teams entered qualifying with four competing in the finals. The current crop certainly have the potential to break that trend. They still have 14 of the squad that performed impressively at the last World Cup and only narrowly lost to USA in the semi-finals. If they do prevail, 33-year-old Ellen White will likely be key. The joint-top scorer at the 2019 World Cup with six goals, the Manchester City forward has over 100 caps and is her country’s all-time record scorer. 

1. Spain

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Many people’s favourites for the tournament, Spain have a significant depth of talent to choose from. No fewer than 17 of their squad play for either Real Madrid or Barcelona — two sides that both made it to the last eight of the Champions League, with Barca only losing to eight-time winners Lyon in the final. Alexia Putellas, who was both the top scorer and Player of the Season in the 2021-22 Champions League campaign as well as being the current Ballon D’Or holder, is one of many hugely talented players to watch out for. The fact that so many individuals in the team play together at club level, therefore, surely affords them a cohesiveness that few countries can match. One of the few things that will count against them is their relatively underwhelming history in big tournaments — this is only their fourth time competing at the Euros, making the semi-finals in 1997 but never getting past the quarters since then. They have also been fairly unimpressive at the World Cup — 2015 was the first time they qualified and they failed to win a game as they were knocked out in the group stages, while they were dumped out in the round of 16 by eventual winners the USA last time out. That said, Spanish football has grown considerably of late with several rising stars (there is only one player in the squad not in their 20s — 31-year-old captain Irene Paredes) and appears in a better place than ever, so this might well be the year when they finally achieve glory on the big stage.

About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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