Sarina Wiegman’s England are aiming to win their first major tournament at Wembley when they host Women’s Euro 2022 this summer.
But the Lionesses will need to overcome Austria, Norway and Northern Ireland in Group A before they can start thinking about lifting that elusive trophy. The top two teams will progress to the last eight, with 16 nations competing in the competition.
Mirror Football takes a look at England’s Group A rivals – analysing their squads, coaches, form, past achievements and chances – ahead of the tournament opener between the hosts and Austria at Old Trafford in Manchester on July 6.
Austria: Irene Fuhrmann’s side qualified automatically for Euro 2022… but only just. They finished second in their qualification group – winning six of their eight games – and progressed thanks to having the third-best record among second-placed nations. Had they boasted the fourth-best record, they would’ve needed to win a play-off to qualify.
Norway: Martin Sjogren’s side eased through their qualifying group, winning all six matches. They scored 34 goals and conceded just once during those fixtures – including a huge 13-0 away win against the Faroe Islands. Barcelona midfielder Caroline Graham Hansen certainly enjoyed herself, finding the back of the net 10 times.
Northern Ireland: Kenny Shiels’ side reached their first ever major tournament the hard way. They finished second in their qualifying group – behind Norway – level on points with Wales in third. Northern Ireland progressed on the head-to-head away goals rule after the game between the two nations in Newport finished 2-2 and their Belfast clash was goalless. They went on to beat Ukraine 4-1 on aggregate in a play-off.
Players to watch
Who will win Women’s Euro 2022? Let us know in the comments below!
Austria: Fuhrmann will have Arsenal’s No1 goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger to call on this summer. The 26-year-old played 20 WSL games last season and has 74 senior caps to date. Zinsberger won four Austrian league titles with SV Neulengbach and two German league titles with Bayern Munich before joining the Gunners in the summer of 2019.
Norway: Who else but Ada Hegerberg? The Ballon d’Or winner ended her five-year exile from the national team in March and is set to lead Norway’s Euro 2022 charge. Hegerberg has won pretty much everything – including six Champions Leagues at Lyon – and an international honour would be the icing on the cake. And she’s still only 26! What a career.
Northern Ireland: All eyes will be on Rachel Furness after a great season for club and country. The Liverpool midfielder, 33, helped her team win promotion to the WSL and became Northern Ireland’s leading scorer in senior football – surpassing David Healy’s long-standing record – with 38 goals. She was named BBC Northern Ireland’s Sports Personality of the Year for her efforts.
Meet the coaches
Austria: Fuhrmann has been part of Austria’s set up for more than a decade. After picking up the last of her three senior caps in 2008, the 41-year-old became the assistant manager. She was in charge of the U19s between 2011 and 2017 before enjoying another three-year spell as the senior team’s No2. She was appointed Austria boss in 2020.
Norway: Sjogren has been in charge of Norway since 2016. The 45-year-old, who never made it as a professional, got the job after winning the Norwegian women’s title with Linkopings in 2016. He is an experienced coach, working in the women’s game for nearly two decades.
Northern Ireland: Shiels was appointed by Northern Ireland in 2019 after a long career in the men’s game. The 66-year-old has won plenty of trophies in his homeland – leading Derry City to the League of Ireland Cup in 2018 – and guided Kilmarnock to Scottish League Cup glory in 2012. He was forced to apologise after claiming ‘women are more emotional than men’ following his team’s 5-0 defeat to England in April.
Austria: The Austrians reached the semi-finals of the Euro 2017, losing to Denmark on penalties. That was a remarkable achievement considering it was the country’s first major tournament. Austria are set to compete in a World Cup qualification play-off later this year.
Norway: The Norwegians have a superb record in women’s football. They have won the Euros twice before – in 1987 and 1993 – and are four-time runners-up. They were also crowned world champions in 1995 and Olympic champions in 2000 – but they did crash out of Euro 2017 at the group stage.
Northern Ireland: Shiels’ side have qualified for their first ever major tournament. They managed to win just two of their qualifiers for Euro 2017, which shows how much they’ve improved in recent years. They have failed to qualify for next year’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
England vs Austria, Old Trafford, July 6, 8pm
Norway vs Northern Ireland, St Mary’s, July 7, 8pm
Austria vs Northern Ireland, St Mary’s, July 11, 5pm
England vs Norway, The Amex, July 11, 8pm
Northern Ireland vs England, St Mary’s, July 15, 8pm
Austria vs Norway, The Amex, July 15, 8pm
Winner Group A vs Runner-up Group B, The Amex, July 20, 8pm
Winner Group B vs Runner-up Group A, Brentford Community Stadium, July 21, 8pm
Winner Group C vs Runner-up Group D, Leigh Sports Village, July 22, 8pm
Winner Group D vs Runner-up Group C, New York Stadium, July 23, 8pm
Winner Quarter-final 3 vs Winner Quarter-final 1, Bramall Lane, July 26, 8pm
Winner Quarter-final 4 vs Winner Quarter-final 2, Stadium MK, July 27, 8pm
Winner Semi-final 1 vs Winner Semi-final 2, Wembley, July 31, 5pm
Norway: Guro Pettersen, Sunniva Skoglund, Aurora Mikalsen, Tuva Hansen, Maren Mjelde, Anja Sonstevold, Julie Blakstad, Maria Thorisdottir, Synne Skinnes Hansen, Guro Bergsvand, Vilde Boe Risa, Amalie Eikeland, Ingrid Syrstad Engen, Frida Maanum, Lisa Naalsund, Elisabeth Terland, Guro Reiten, Anna Langas Josendal, Karina Saevik, Sophie Roman Haug, Celin Bizet Ildhusoy, Caroline Graham Hansen, Ada Hegerberg
Northern Ireland: TBC
Austria: The Austrians came close five years ago but finishing second above either England or Norway will be difficult. Expect an early exit.
Norway: Sjogren’s side will be confident of going the distance with Hegerberg back in their side. They’ll be hoping to at least reach the quarter-finals.
Northern Ireland: Their success was qualifying for the tournament. Just winning one of their three group games would be an achievement.