The women’s 2022 Euro football tournament kicked off in England on Wednesday evening, with the hosts taking on Austria in the opening match of the championship, which delayed a year because of the COVID pandemic.
Sixteen teams compete in four groups, and record levels of in-person spectators and television audiences are expected, as the tournament benefits from the men’s 2022 World Cup being staged in Qatar later this year rather than clashing during summer.
Euronews Sports Editor Andy Robini says he thinks the Championship will live up to expectations.
“For a good tournament, you need a good atmosphere and keeping the ticket prices low was the right decision to make in my opinion. This will attract more families, add to the excitement and set new milestones.”
Russia was disqualified from the tournament after the invasion of Ukraine, and the Russian team’s spot in the championship was taken by Portugal instead.
“The level is so high now, it’s very difficult to predict what the end of the tournament will be like,” said England coach Sarina Wiegman, who won the 2017 tournament as the Netherlands’ coach and was recruited to specifically boost England’s chances of victory on home soil.
“A lot of countries are in a good position, we are too. In tournaments, sometimes you see surprising things and you hope to take advantage of that,” she said.
Who are the players and teams to watch out for?
Germany have dominated this tournament over the years, with elite teams like France and England hoping to make their mark this year.
Sweden and the Netherlands could be two other teams aiming for a place in the final but Spain will have to work hard after losing their star player to a serious injury.
“Some of these players will be used to big crowds whilst others will have to adapt quickly. Hard to tell who will thrive under pressure and I’m finding it even harder to pick a winner,” says Andy Robini.
“Alexia Putellas’ recent anterior cruciate ligament injury is a massive blow for Spain. I see her as more than a Ballon D’or winner, she makes La Roja tick in midfield and I hope her team-mates can step it up in her absence.”
The Barcelona captain will be missed but there are still plenty of players to look out for.
France’s Wendie Renard, who will be hoping to add another trophy to her cabinet; Dutch sensation Vivianne Miedema, who will be bidding for a second consecutive European crown; and Norwegian legend Ada Hegerberg, who will be looking to make a strong statement on her return.