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Women's Euro 2022: Spain, Germany and the other countries set to rival England at this summer's tournament

England kick off their Euro 2022 campaign on July 6; the Lionessess are among the favourites to win the tournament but will have some challenges; Spain's squad consists of most of Barcelona's rampant team, while Sweden rarely lose

Who are England's main rivals at Euro 2022?
Image: Who are England's main rivals at Euro 2022?

It's the summer where women's football could come home, but watch out England - there are plenty of countries looking to spoil the party.

The Women's European Championships begin next week and,as hosts, England are placed as one of the favourites to lift the crown for the first time.

But the best players in Europe will be fiercely queuing up to stop them this month. So what strengths do the Lionesses' main rivals hold ahead of the tournament and who is best placed to win the Euros?

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We take a look at some of the phenomenal players in the WSL who will be performing in Euro 2022.

Spain

The advancement of the Spanish club game over the past few years, with Barcelona's stunning form and record crowds hitting the country's biggest stadia, means Spain are widely deemed as the favourites to lift this summer's European Championships.

The Barcelona side that won 30 league games out of 30 last season - scoring 159 goals and conceding 11 in the process - makes up a large part of this team. For example, the centre-back partnership of Irene Paredes and Maria Pilar is impossible to breach in the club game and this has been transferred to the international stage: la Roja are unbeaten in 21 games.

Up front, there's plenty of talent in this Spain side, even though star forwards Jennifer Hermoso and Alexia Putellas will miss the tournament through injury.

Spain manager Jorge Vilda has an array of talent up front
Image: Spain manager Jorge Vilda has an array of talent up front

In their places, keep an eye out for her club team-mate Claudia Pina, after the 20-year-old scored 14 league goals in 24 matches last season - adding 11 assists in the process. The Barcelona starlet can play in both midfield and attack and that versatility could be key for Jorge Vilda's side.

Also See:

One to watch: Amaiur Sarriegi

Spain have an all-star cast including Alexia Putellas
Image: Spain have an all-star cast

Look out for young forward Sarriegi too. The Real Sociedad forward was initially not picked by Vilda for the tournament but the 21-year-old was drafted into the Spain team after Putellas' injury. The Real Sociedad forward has 12 goals in 11 matches for Spain after scoring 17 goals for the Basque club in the season just gone.

The mood in the Spain camp

Spain manager Jorge Vilda: "In the first game it's always important to get off on the right foot and get a good feeling. The aim is to win and we can't look any further than that because we then have very difficult sides to face in Germany and Denmark and thinking about them now wouldn't be helpful.

"Finland are a great team and very well managed. I know it's going to be a tough game, that they're going to make things very difficult for us and that they're going to push us to give our very best. They've improved. They're a more solid team and, in a final competition, anything can happen."

Football journalist Alex Ibaceta on Sky Sports' Women's Euros Podcast: "You know there's a lot of Barcelona players in the Spain squad and you expect it. You can see the connection the Barcelona players have but for Spain, most of the players know them quite well anyway. These players, even though they don't all play for Barcelona, have played together at youth or international level for a long time.

"With Spain, you're so reliant on these good players and the Barcelona spine to get you through. It's less about what Jorge Vilda does but it's how long these players will last in top level competition. Can they push Spain all the way to the end? Spain are their own problems when it comes to finishing, they create a lot but for some reason can't finish for the life of them.

"It's a lot of pressure but it's down to how long these players can last. Sweden and Netherlands, you have players who can score goals quite easily, so whether Spain can replicate that is another question."

Netherlands

Don't look into their 5-1 friendly loss to England too much, there's no doubt the Dutch have the best tournament experience of any side competing in this summer's European Championships.

The Netherlands are not only the reigning Euros champions, but they also finished as runners-up in the most recent World Cup, only losing out to the fiercely strong United States side.

Despite losing manager Wiegman to England, there is still plenty of firepower in this Dutch side that goes way beyond star striker Vivianne Miedema of Arsenal.

Lieke Mertens celebrates putting the Dutch in front at Elland Road
Image: Netherlands have firepower and experience up front

This Netherlands squad is almost like a 'who's who' out of the top European leagues. Alongside WSL-based stars Miedema and Jackie Groenen, there is Barcelona hotshot Lieke Martens, Lyon midfielder Danielle van de Donk along with Germany-based starlets in Dominique Janssen and Jill Roord.

Meanwhile, Juventus' Lineth Beerensteyn looks a handful up front with her pace and power as she looks to share the goalscoring burden with Miedema.

Holland also have a young English manager to look out for in Mark Parsons, who has been tasked with following up Wiegman's success during her reign.

The 35-year-old has risen through the ranks of the women's game after taking charge of Chelsea men's reserve team - where he managed Reece James and Mason Mount at U8s level.

Netherlands' One to Watch: Vivianne Miedema

Vivianne Miedema (left) is the big player to watch for the Netherlands
Image: Vivianne Miedema (left) is the big player to watch for the Netherlands

Fans of the Women's Super League will know just how good the Arsenal forward can be on her day. She's taken on more of a team role with the Gunners over the past 12 months, but she'll be back as the main figure up front on English soil this summer.

The mood in the Netherlands camp

Netherlands manager Mark Parsons: "The expectation is we should beat everyone - we've won the Euros and been to the World Cup final, but if I had lived my life just thinking about people's expectations, I wouldn't be here today. It would just make life impossible.

"Other countries may be further along as a group right now because of their journey - we're still moving and developing - but we have individuals that can win a game in any moment. When we're playing well, we'll be fine. But when we're not playing well, if we're together, we've got talent that can win those games. We've just got to got to keep growing. That's the pressure."

Football journalist Suse Van Kleef on Sky Sports' Women's Euros Podcast: "I don't think they can defend their title this year. Seeing the form they have been in over the past year, it's just not going well. There's trouble in the defence, you saw it last week against England. It was quite a crushing defeat.

"There isn't really a Plan B. It's been a risk for Mark Parsons to implement a new style and it hasn't really been a success.

"Pundits and experts are pessimistic and are highly critical of the Dutch team for the past year, but the broader audience expects a lot from them. It's not just the Dutch doing bad, but other teams are really, really good.

"This is a team that can bring something extra in a tournament. Mentally, it does well in tournaments but that's the strength of Sarina Wiegman. She's not with Holland anymore."

Sweden

On paper, Sweden are the best side in Europe as they are the highest-ranked side on the continent in the official FIFA rankings.

There's a good reason for this: Peter Gerhardsson's side have lost just once since March 2020 - and that sole defeat was via a penalty shootout. Take that shootout loss aside and they have not been beaten in 90 minutes in 29 matches. They've also only conceded three goals in their last 12 games since August 2021.

Sweden have Arsenal's Stina Blackstenius in their squad
Image: Sweden have Arsenal's Stina Blackstenius in their squad

Sweden were also responsible for ending the United States' emphatic 44-game unbeaten run by thrashing Megan Rapinoe and co 3-0 in the Tokyo Olympics group stages, before going onto claim the silver medal in Japan.

Gerhardsson also has plenty of key players to rely on in England this summer. Arsenal's Stina Blackstenius is so talented she forced Miedema to take up a deeper role in north London, while the Gunners star is backed up by Barcelona's Fridolina Rolfo and Lina Hurtig in attack.

Captain Caroline Seger and Real Madrid's Kosovare Allsani are the lynchpins in both midfield and the final third, while Everton youngster Hanna Bennison is one of the most expensive players in Women's Super League history.

Sweden's One to Watch: Magda Eriksson

Magdalena Eriksson is key at the back for Sweden
Image: Magdalena Eriksson is key at the back for Sweden

The secret behind such a solid unbeaten record is a rock solid defence, and centre-back Magda Eriksson is widely regarded as one of the best centre-backs in the world. Vocal but calm, the Chelsea captain holds the keys to Sweden having success this summer.

The mood in the Sweden camp

Sweden's Caroline Seger: "I honestly think this could be the hardest tournament we ever played because, in technique, tactics and physically, every women's team is now developing so fast.

"I think it's going to be a fantastic tournament to watch and play in, and my expectation is that the tempo - which was already high and really good at the 2019 World Cup - will reach another level in England. Whoever wins will need to fight really hard for it."

Football journalist Jessy Parker Humphreys on Sky Sports' Women's Euros Podcast: "Because Sweden are a team of top quality players without that one obvious star, they don't pick up the same amount of attention compared to some of the other teams. But the form over the last five years, it feels impossible to look past them.

"Their half of the draw is quite nice, if you're Sweden and you top the group, you would fancy them against any team from Group D in the quarter-finals."

Germany

You can never write off Germany at any major football tournament. Die Nationalelf have won this competition eight times, more than any other side and you wouldn't be surprised to see them take number nine on English soil this summer.

What makes this German team particularly impressive is the mix of youth and experience in the squad.

Experienced figures such as captain Alexandra Popp, goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger of Chelsea and midfielder Sara Dabritz are backed up by young prodigies Jule Brand, Lea Schuller and Lena Oberdorf, who all bring youthful exuberance by being aged 24 and under.

Germany beat England at Wembley in 2019
Image: Germany beat England at Wembley in 2019

Germany have won eight of the last 10 European Championships and will be keen to make sure their quarter-final exit in 2017 was merely just a blip.

However, they also exited the 2019 World Cup at the last eight stage and failed to qualify for last summer's Tokyo 2020 Olympics altogether. An early exit in this tournament will hint at a major fall from grace.

Germany's One to Watch: Lea Schuller

Germany's Lea Schuller is the spearhead of this young Die Nationalelf team
Image: Germany's Lea Schuller is the spearhead of this young Die Nationalelf team

Voted Germany's player of the year last year, Schuller has the best international record out of anyone in their squad. The Bayern Munich forward scored 16 goals in 22 games this season - and has 25 goals in 38 games for Germany.

The mood in the Germany camp

Chelsea and Germany goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger: "We'd never be satisfied to come second, third or fourth place. I think there is always - and there will always be - an expectation in Germany to win.

"That's always there and like I said, we have young players coming through and a lot of experience so I believe we should do well at this Euros, just because we don't have the biggest names compared to maybe England and Spain.

"People aren't talking about us but I think that can be good for us: to be the underdog in that case. I'm just excited for the performances we'll have in our locker."

Football journalist Jessy Parker Humphreys on Sky Sports' Women's Euros Podcast: "There's an adjustment Germany are going through with how the other teams have caught up with them. They put the major investment into their league first so if I was them, I'd be annoyed how everyone else has cottoned on to it.

"There's a transition period in their players, they have the most exciting group of under-25 players and the 2017 and 2019 performances speak to that change. Germany had more under-23 players in that 2019 World Cup more than any other team which will benefit those players - who have Champions League experience now too.

"The question mark is how you fit all their options in together? I don't know if Germany have got to that level yet. They may have just too many good players."

France

In France, Lyon and PSG are fierce rivals in the women's top-flight title race, but this summer players from both sides will have to come together and unite for Les Bleues' Euro 2022 title challenge.

It's the Lyon players who will command France's defensive line through captain Wendie Renard and club team-mate Griedge Mbock Bathy - who are two of the best defenders in Europe on current form.

The duo were integral in Lyon winning the Champions League final in the season just gone and will be hoping for a second trophy celebration this summer.

France's Griedge M'Bock Bathy
Image: France's Griedge M'Bock Bathy

Up front, it's all about PSG, with in-form forward Marie-Antoinette Katoto set to lead the line alongside club colleagues Sandy Baltimore and Kadidiatou Diani.

Manager Corrine Diacre is not afraid to make the big decisions for this French national team, bravely leaving out Lyon duo Amandine Henry and Eugenie LeSommer from her last few squads - and that boldness could come across in the tournament this summer.

One to watch: Marie-Antoinette Katoto

Katoto will be a fearful prospect for any opposition defender, with the 23-year-old boasting a record of 32 goals in 33 games this season, plus 24 in 28 at international level.

The mood in the France camp

France manager Corinne Diacre: "This remains a major competition for us. The pressure from the last tournament in France was mainly from the media, we don't have any less pressure just because we're playing in England this time.

"We have a clear ambition - to go the final. We have to stay focused on the objective we have set ourselves. The pressure must be positive, not negative. You have to use it to get places."

Football journalist Alex Ibaceta on Sky Sports' Women's Euros Podcast: "France are a mess. You have one of the best front threes in the world and when you're leaving out a player like Henry when the midfield is scarce, it's a bit harsh. Then LeSommer is a goalscorer, she has the experience Katoto doesn't have.

The talent on show is good but you have a manager who isn't using them to her potential. It's a bit of a shame. I don't have a lot of expectations from France as I don't know how well Diacre will organise her squad to get them over the line. You don't have a moment of peace in any match and whether Diacre can push them and get them over the line is big question mark.

Follow Euro 2022 across Sky Sports

Keep up with all the latest from Euro 2022 across Sky Sports and Sky Sports News this summer.

Coverage will be anchored by Sky Sports WSL presenter Caroline Barker, alongside Jessica Creighton and Kyle Walker. Meanwhile, Karen Carney, Sue Smith, Courtney Sweetman-Kirk and Laura Bassett will give analysis throughout the tournament.

They will also be joined by experienced England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley and Manchester City defender Esme Morgan.

The pundits and presenters will work from the Sky Sports Women's Euro 2022 Mobile Presentation Bus, which will follow the Sky Sports News team around the country to the various stadiums where matches are being played.

In addition, Sky Sports' Essential Football Podcast will be rebranded for the tournament to Sky Sports Women's Euros Podcast from 21 June. Hosted by Charlotte Marsh and Anton Toloui, it will feature exclusive news and player interviews in addition to a strong programme line up around the tournament.

Euro 2022: The groups...

Group A: England, Austria, Norway, Northern Ireland

Group B: Germany, Denmark, Spain, Finland

Group C: Netherlands, Sweden, Portugal, Switzerland

Group D: France, Italy, Belgium, Iceland

Euro 2022: The schedule...

Group stage

Wednesday July 6

Group A: England vs Austria - kick off 8pm, Old Trafford

Thursday July 7

Group A: Norway vs Northern Ireland - kick off 8pm, St Mary's

Friday July 8

Group B: Spain vs Finland - kick off 5pm, Stadium MK

Group B: Germany vs Denmark - kick off 8pm, London Community Stadium

Saturday July 9

Group C: Portugal vs Switzerland - kick off 5pm, Leigh Sports Village

Group C: Netherlands vs Sweden - kick off 8pm, Bramall Lane

Sunday July 10

Group D: Belgium vs Iceland - kick off 5pm, Manchester City Academy Stadium

Group D: France vs Italy - kick off 8pm, New York Stadium

Monday July 11

Group A: Austria vs Northern Ireland - kick off 5pm, St Mary's

Group A: England v Norway - kick off 8pm, Brighton and Hove Community Stadium

Tuesday July 12

Group B: Denmark vs Finland - kick off 5pm, Stadium MK

Group B: Germany vs Spain - kick off 8pm, London Community Stadium

Wednesday July 13

Group C: Sweden vs Switzerland - kick off 5pm, Bramall Lane

Group C: Netherlands v Portugal - kick off 8pm, Leigh Sports Village

Thursday July 14

Group D: Italy vs Iceland - kick off 5pm, Manchester City Academy Stadium

Group D: France vs Belgium - kick off 8pm, New York Stadium

Friday July 15

Group A: Northern Ireland v England - kick off 8pm, St Mary's

Group A: Austria vs Norway - kick off 8pm, Brighton and Hove Community Stadium

Saturday July 16

Group B: Finland vs Germany - kick off 8pm, Stadium MK

Group B: Denmark vs Spain - kick off 8pm, London Community Stadium

Sunday July 17

Group C: Switzerland vs Netherlands - kick off 5pm, Bramall Lane

Group C: Sweden vs Portugal - kick off 5pm, Leigh Sports Village

Monday July 18

Group D: Iceland vs France - kick off 8pm, New York Stadium

Group D: Italy vs Belgium - kick off 8pm, Manchester City Academy Stadium

Knockout phase

Quarter-finals

Wednesday July 20

Quarter-final 1: Winners Group A v Runners-up Group B - kick off 8pm, Brighton and Hove Community Stadium

Thursday July 21

Quarter-final 2: Winners Group B v Runners-up Group A - kick off 8pm, London Community Stadium

Friday July 22

Quarter-final 3: Winners Group C v Runners-up Group D - kick off 8pm, Leigh Sports Village

Quarter-final 4: Winners Group D v Runners-up Group C - kick off 8pm, New York Stadium

Semi-finals

Tuesday July 26

Semi-final 1: Winners quarter-final 1 v Winners quarter-final 3 - kick off 8pm, Bramall Lane

Wednesday July 27

Semi-final 2: Winners quarter-final 2 v Winners quarter-final 4 - kick-off 8pm, Stadium MK

Final

Sunday July 31

Winners semi-final 1 v Winners semi-final 2 - kick off 5pm, Wembley

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