UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 Best Bets & Predictions

Andy

On the 6th July the 13th Women’s European Championship kicks off in England. This is England’s second time as a host nation, last hosting this competition in 2005. 16 teams will compete, only the second time this many teams have been included. With the recent introduction of professional women’s leagues in England and Spain, as well as the French league ranked as the best league by UEFA’s coefficients in the 2019-2020 season; the quality of this tournament will be the highest yet. This preview will take a look at the four favourites for this summers tournament and offer some best bets that look decent value.

UEFA Women’s EURO 2022

UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 starts Wednesday 6th July

Action starts from 8:00pm


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England

In September 2021, Sarina Wiegman took over as manager of the England team becoming the first non-British permanent manager of the squad. Wiegman won the last Women’s European Championship as Netherlands manager in 2017, despite only being in the job for six months, and her Dutch team received a lot of praise for their attacking, attractive style of football. This success has clearly carried on into the England set-up. England have won 11 out of their 13 matches under her management and are yet to lose, having drawn the other two.

England’s 23-woman squad contains a brilliant mix of experience and youth. Wiegman’s pick includes players such as Jill Scott, who is unlikely to play, but will bring 151 caps and seven major tournaments worth of experience and Leah Williamson, the 25-year-old newly named England Captain who has been at Arsenal since age nine and was part of the 2018-19 Women’s Super League winning team. Lucy Bronze joins the squad having just completed a move to Barcelona and named Best FIFA Women’s Player in 2020.

As well as utilising experience, there are also some great young players coming through. 21-year-old Lauren Hemp has scored 10 goals in her last nine appearances for club and country and appears to be a favourite player of Wiegman, which has seen her start in seven of England’s last eight matches, so do not be surprised if she is one of the breakout names of the tournament.

PaddyPower have rated the team as second favourites, currently at odds of 5.0. However, it is worth mentioning that Opta Statistics ran 100,000 simulations of the tournament and have England as having a 19.0% chance of winning the tournament and a 33% chance of reaching the final. England also have the perceived easiest group so would be expected to top, meaning they would face the runners-up of Group B, likely to be Spain or Germany.

Strengths & Weaknesses

England play an attacking style of football, move the ball forward quickly and press at a rate expected of a Klopp-style team. This high press has been effective against top opposition in friendlies and the Arnold Clark Cup. The 4-2-3-1 formation that Wiegman prefers sees the front three and the player in the #10 role generate a huge number of chances from winning the ball up high like this. Full-backs bomb on, especially Lucy Bronze from right-back, which means wingers get into the box with strikers when the ball is out wide on the opposite side. Home advantage also can’t be ignored, and I am sure that as the tournament goes on crowds will only get bigger and support will grow and grow for the home team, which could be the difference-maker

England started their warmup period for the Euro’s far earlier than any other team so recent friendly wins may not be a full representation of their opposition. Players such as Ellen White and Lauren Hemp played in the Women’s FA Cup Final on the 15th May and the England preparation camp started on the 30th May, giving these players just a two week rest period. This means there is a possible danger of a burnout later in the tournament, however Wiegman has managed in a Euro’s before and will understand the risk of this. England have only conceded 3 goals in Wiegman’s 13, two of these being absolute screamers from Canada and Germany respectively but the other came from a corner. Conceding chances from set pieces against top teams seems to be the only real defensive weakness of this team in a lot of their matches and this could be costly in matches further into the tournament where one goal can be the difference.


Key Player

Ellen White is a scoring phenomenon for England. Since the start of 2019 she has received 31 caps and scored 24 goals, she was joint top scorer at the last world cup and is England’s all -time record goal scorer. Her backup, Beth England, is yet to really find her feet for England so expect White to start in all matches of importance. A calm finisher with good feet, you can expect her to spearhead England’s attack this summer.


Overall Prediction & Betting Tip

England will be a really dangerous team this year. Experienced players, an experienced manager and a great style of play. I believe the odds PaddyPower have selected are fair and the value on this bet is probably about right. England will breeze the group and if they can beat the Group B runner-up, they have a very good chance of winning the whole thing.


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Spain

For a team that have only qualified three times for the Women’s European Championships, Spain are perhaps a surprising favourite at first glance. Their rise to becoming a top women’s nation has coincided with the rise of FC Barcelona Femeni, which saw them break into the top ten of the FIFA official rankings at the end of 2021. Spanish players won UEFA’s best goalkeeper, defender, midfielder, forward and overall player award in 2020, the first time a single nation has had the winner of all these awards in one year.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the ethos of the team is similar to the men’s team, a constant willingness to play out from the back, building play from deep on the pitch. The midfield is also reminiscent of the men’s team in their most successful period, but instead of Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets, Spain’s women have their own Barcelona trio of Aitana Bonmati, Patricia Guijarro and Alexia Putellas. Of the 23 player squad for Spain: 10 play for Barcelona, 7 play for Real Madrid, 3 play for Atletico Madrid and Levante, Athletic Bilbao and Manchester United each have one representative. This chemistry that players bring from playing in the same squads really favours the passing style of football that Spain try to play. Manager Jorge Vilda has been in charge since 2015, having previously managed the u-17 and u-19 teams, and has been at the helm during Spain’s rise into an international heavyweight.

Strengths & Weaknesses

The team’s ability to play out from the back creates a dominating style in possession, against Brazil (ranked 9th in the world) they had 68% possession and against Germany in February they had 61% possession. Their goal against Canada in the Arnold Clark Cup was the result of a fantastic passing sequence and this style of play is one they will stick to. Their players are all world-class technically and play very similar styles at their clubs, meaning club form flows into international form. For Barcelona Femeni players, this means coming into the tournament from a club that scored 159 goals in 30 games, conceding just 11. The quality of these players cannot be underestimated.

Again, the similarities to the men’s team continue when it comes to the team’s weaknesses. The team have struggled to find an established goalscorer to lead the line for them, starting four different strikers in their last four games. I would expect Real Madrid’s Esther Gonzalez Rodriguez to be the striker they settle with for the tournament, however, due to this not being nailed down, do not be surprised if this changes throughout the tournament.


Key Player

When it comes to key players, for Spain you need look no further than Alexia Putellas, 2021 Women’s Ballon D’Or winner who won the treble with Barcelona in the 2020-2021 season. No player has more caps (93) for Spain than the 28-year-old and she is also 2nd in Barcelona Femeni’s all-time list of appearances and goals. She is the perfect all-round midfielder: creative, and decisive in possession; she attacks with purpose and contributes with goals and assists while also being able to drop deep and control the tempo of the team. A real leader, appointed captain of Barcelona aged just 23 she has all the assets necessary that made her the best player in the world in 2021. Even Iniesta himself commented on Putellas calling her a role model.


Overall Prediction & Betting Tip

Spain’s main issue is that the competition’s draw has not been kind to them. Drawn into what is being tipped as the ‘group of death’ with Germany and 2017 Euros runners-up Denmark, three top teams are involved in their group. Furthermore, if they progress in 2nd place, they will most likely face England in the quarter-finals, adding another really tough game they would have to win in order to be crowned champions. PaddyPower have place them at odds of 3.75, of which there is a definite argument for this not being the best value. However, Opta’s supercomputer gives them just an 8.0% chance, due to the difficulty of the draw. There is no doubt that Spain are one of, if not, the top team in the competition, but there is definitely the risk that the draw makes their hopes of winning the competition a step too far. Whatever the situation, however, I am convinced Petullas will have a stellar competition.


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Netherlands

As defending champions, the Netherlands have a lot to live up to if they are to repeat their success of 2017. They have lost their championship-winning manager to England and will not have the home advantage that was pivotal to their success in 2017. However, they did not enter the 2017 tournament as favourites and with some real standout players in their squad, they will still fancy themselves to challenge for the title this year.

Englishman Mark Parsons only took over as their manager six months ago, so has not had much time to work with the team and so far has already suffered losses to France (3-1), and his team were also on the wrong end of a 5-1 mauling against England on 24th June. However, Parsons was quick to point out at the time of the England result that his team were a long way behind in their tournament preparations and that when the tournament starts, the performances will be very different. Parson recently described The Netherlands being the favourites as “impossible” and focusing much more on the narrative that the Netherlands are building something.

Strengths & Weaknesses

The Netherlands have height on their side in defence. Their centre back pairing of Stefanie Van der Gragt and Aniek Nouwen are very strong in the air and add a strong physical presence to the Dutch defence. In international tournaments, the importance of set pieces is always escalated, and these centre backs will contribute when attacking and defending. Nouwen even scored in their last World Cup qualification match against Belarus.

Netherlands have a real struggle playing out from the back which England exploited to great effect in their 5-1 win over the Dutch. England were able to create chance after chance from winning the ball high up the pitch after pressure on Dutch defenders. While this may not be a problem for the Dutch in the group stages when they are favourites for matches, this could be their downfall when it gets later into the competition.


Key Player

The Netherlands are blessed by the fact that superstar Vivianne Miedema is back from injury and in their team for these championships. The Arsenal forward is often referred to as one of the greatest strikers in the history of the women’s game, and as she is still only 25, that really shows how great she is. Her goalscoring record is sublime, 92 goals in 110 caps, 114 goals in 132 games for Arsenal, she is the highest goal scorer in Women’s Super League history and has done all this without ever scoring a penalty for Arsenal.  It is almost a guarantee that if the Netherlands are playing well, she is scoring.


Overall Prediction & Betting Tip

PaddyPower are offering odds of 6.0 for the Netherlands to win the competition. This may be an overestimation of the Netherlands’ true ability. Sweden have all the capabilities of topping Group C and this outcome would see The Netherlands most likely have to beat France in the next round. Even if Netherlands do win their group, it is unlikely they will be strong enough to go the whole way and win it, unless Miedema can conjur up some magic when it matters most.


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France

France are rated as the 4th most likely team to win the Euros by PaddyPower and looking at their extremely talented squad you would question whether they should be rated higher. However, the French team has a cloud of drama hanging over them. French manager Corinne Diacre has been in charge since 2017 but has fallen out with several different players including Amandine Henry, who scored in the Champions League Final, and Eugenie Le Sommer. This is only the tip of the iceberg for this French side. The squad has fractured over the attack on PSG’s Kheira Hamraoui by two masked men in 2021, which saw fellow teammate Aminata Diallo taken in for questioning. Two French players even celebrated a goal in a friendly against The Netherlands by creating an ‘A’ sign with their hands as an act of support for Diallo. French journalist Theo Troude described this squad as a “ticking time bomb”.

Strengths & Weaknesses

The strengths of this squad are with the quality of the team. 5 players are from Lyon’s Champions League squad and 5 players are from PSG’s very strong squad; the quality of these players will be France’s biggest asset. Wendie Renard played a starring role during the 2019 World Cup and at 6’2” she is one of the tallest players in the women’s game and is a huge threat from attacking corners.

The weakness goes without saying – a team that are unhappy with each other will not perform as well on the pitch. The manager is not afraid of making enemies and a falling out with a player could easily occur mid-tournament that would further worsen the team spirit. France are also known for flopping at the quarter-final stage and with a team that already lack faith and trust in one another, this could easily come back to bite them.


Key Player

Marie-Antoinette Katoto is PSG’s best striker and will play a key role for France this summer. She averaged 1.04 goals per 90 minutes in the French top division and since being ignored for selection for the 2019 World Cup, she has scored 55 goals in 56 games making it impossible to not call her up. At just 22 she is only getting better and will lead the line for France this summer and depending on how France progress, likely a challenge for the top scorer award.


Overall Prediction & Betting Tip

France are the favourites to finish top of their group and would expect themselves to do so. By winning this group they will almost certainly face Sweden or Netherlands in the next round. With France’s record in quarterfinals, it would be of no surprise to see them go out in this round. For this team to come together and work as a group to win the competition seems impossible but the quality is certainly there. PaddyPower have rated their odds of winning the competition at 6.0, I think this is overvaluing the French squad, based on quality alone these odds are fair but considering the background altercations their chances are most likely lower than this. Opta have rated their chance at a lofty 19%, however, yet again this only considers team quality and disregards any background issues.


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How to watch the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022?

📅   When is the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022? / Wednesday, 6th July 2022, 20:00
🏟   Where is the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022? / England (Various Venues)
📺   What TV channel is the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022? / BBC