England are the hosts of the Women’s Euro 2022, and it has a chance for history. Look no further than the side’s recent results in World Cup qualifying to see the power of the Lionesses.
Four hat-tricks. Twenty goals. One team? It was a historic day in Doncaster as England’s national women’s team took the pitch. Viewers expected a massacre. Just months ago, England thrashed Latvia, 10-0. Yet this game, also against Latvia, would go down in history as especially cruel.
England scored four in the first twelve minutes to set a back-breaking pace. In the end, England won 20-0. At the time it brought England’s goal differential to +53. It now sits at +68.
The result sent shockwaves through the soccer world. Not only did this result represent the disparities in the women’s game. The 20-0 beatdown showed the quality England held. It propelled them to the top of bookmakers’ odds and brought them renewed publicity. But, all of it may come to a head at the Women’s Euros 2022.
With new expectations brought upon the Lionesses and the history of English teams in one of the world’s biggest stages, England will have a myriad of eyes on them as they enter Euro 2022.
What rests at stake for England
That was the case a summer ago. England’s fans have a mantra of bringing football “home.” The Three Lions welcomed Italy to Wembley on a sunny July day. Rowdy fans flooded the English streets, anticipating England’s second major trophy in history. England would bring football home on home soil.
Of course, it ended poorly. A classy save from Gianluigi Donnarumma gave Italy its second-ever Euro win. The Azzuri’s win delayed the return of football until the Three Lions play in Qatar for the World Cup. Or, did it?
England has a new hope in a quietly potent English women’s squad dominating every game. They have shown they can thrive in sticky situations, like in the 2017 Euros and 2019 Women’s World Cup. In both, England reached the semifinals, only losing to the eventual champion.
The Lionesses have the opportunity to bring a major trophy back to England. It must succeed on home turf in order to reestablish England’s place among the true elites of the world.
Simultaneously, the England hosting of the Women’s Euro 2022 represents the last chance for a number of members of the squad. Capped 156 times, Jill Scott is 35 and on the brink of retirement. The same goes for Manchester City duo Steph Houghton and Ellen White. Although this English squad is lethal, they are aging.
This tournament will be one of their best opportunities to claim a Euro.
Why England can triumph as hosts of the Women’s Euro 2022
Part of that comes from the dominant run of form regarding the England Women’s National Team.
England created an impressive unbeaten record, which stretches back to last April. The headlines of this sequence are massive scores like the 8-0 rout of North Macedonia. Or, how about the 10-0 win over lowly Luxembourg. Finally, and most notably, Latvia’s 20-0 disparity cements the ability to dominate offense.
Although the outrageous scores are impressive in their own right, the 2022 Arnold Clark Cup provides more detailed understanding.
The four-team invitation pit England against the No. 4, No. 6 and No. 7 team in the FIFA Women’s World Rankings. England drew 1-1 with Canada, ranked sixth. Then, another draw, this time by a score of 1-1, came against No. 7 Spain. Finally, in the last game of the round-robin tournament, England beat No. 4 Germany, 3-1. The edge on goal differential over Spain won the Arnold Clark Cup for England.
Clearly, England’s results can back up their current Women’s World Ranking of No. 8. It also helps to boast some of the best players in Europe.
Lucy Bronze is a three-time UEFA Women’s Champions League winner at right back. She headlines the England squad. Also, Manchester City teammate Ellen White provides the attacking prowess and clinical nature to the England squad. England calls most of its players from the FA Women’s Super League. Therefore, the players have an understanding for different playstyles among the squad providing cohesiveness other nations cannot replicate. Plus, they all know each other fairly well.
Home advantage will go a long way for England as well. England will host the tournament, putting teams in stadiums players will be familiar with. SkySports estimates England will sell over 435,000 tickets, and England’s first three group matches are already sold out.
Those three group stage games can be intimidating on paper regardless of any pressure on the squad. England kickoff the tournament against Austria, which is only playing in its second Women’s Euro. In that first try back in 2017, Austria finished top of a group featuring France, Iceland and Switzerland. The Austrians also eliminated Spain on penalties before losing to Denmark on penalties. Most recently, England squeaked out a 1-0 win. Yet, Austria is a strong dark horse pick in this tournament.
Another status as a contender comes in England’s second game as the host of the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022. Norway is a traditional women’s soccer power with a World Cup and Euro to its name. The two sides met in the quarterfinals of the 2019 Women’s World Cup. England comfortably defeated Norway, 3-0. Scoring machine Ada Hegerberg seeks revenge against the English.
Northern Ireland, the final fixture in the group stage, is fairly simple. England eliminated Northern Ireland from World Cup contention with a 5-0 win. This should be three points for England.
A Euro to remember
There is an level of quality surrounding this edition the UEFA Women’s Euro. Ballon D’Or winner Alexis Putellas and Spanish legend Jenni lead a dangerous Spain squad looking for their first Euro. The pair helped Barcelona dominate in the club game, only losing two games the entire season. One of those came against Lyon, which houses many of Europe’s best players in the women’s game.
The favorites, however, are surely Sweden. Currently, the Swedens are No. 2 in the world rankings, only behind the United States. Sweden won the 2022 Algarve Cup over teams like Italy, Norway and Denmark. Moreover, the side has not lost in over a year. In Sweden’s most recent encounter with the Lionesses, they beat England 2-1 to claim third place in the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
Several other contenders will join the tournament. Teams like France, the Netherlands and Germany all pose a threat to England. Storylines will make the Euros enjoyable as well.
Ada Hegerberg, one of the most renowned female soccer players ever, will reconcile with Norway in time to conquer the Euros. The tournament will take place for the first time in five years, marking a new era in women’s sports. This tournament will be groundbreaking, and England will make history with a title win at Wembley.
PHOTO: Tim Goode/PA Images via Getty Images