Statistically, there is actually a lot to be said for the German footballers. As record winners with eight titles, six of them at the most recent seven European Championships, the DFB team is in theory one of the favorites to win the tournament. In practice, however, things look a little different.
Too many nations have caught up in recent years while the development of the German national team has come to a standstill. At the 2017 European Championship, the German players were eliminated by Denmark in the quarter-finals, so the burden of the favorites is more on other nations this year.
For example on hosts England, who without a doubt are going into the tournament as the top favourites. In addition to the home advantage, which can inspire in such a football-crazy country, the “Three Lionesses” are particularly convincing in terms of football and have been unbeaten since September 2021 – since the Dutchwoman Sarina Wiegman has been head coach. She became European champion with the Netherlands in 2017 – at a home European Championship. So Wiegmann knows how to do it and could give England their first European title.
When nominating the squad, Wiegman surprisingly did without long-time captain Steph Houghton, who was injured at the end of January and has not played for her club Manchester City since then. Arsenal midfielder Leah Williamson took over her role last year. But the team’s greatest star potential is Lauren Hemp, who has gradually become one of the best wingers in the world at just 21 years old.
For the first time, Spain is one of the big favorites of the tournament and at the same time one of Germany’s group opponents. In recent years, FC Barcelona has established itself more and more at the top of European football, which has also had an impact on the national team, in which the majority of Barcelona’s players are active.
An absolute top performer is Alexia Putellas, who was the first Spaniard to win the Ballon d’Or this year. On the other hand, coach Jorge Vilda’s team will have to do without goalkeeper Jennifer Hermoso, who injured her knee in preparation.
The team is led by defense chief Irene Paredes, who didn’t concede a single goal with her defense last year. The Spaniards are still undefeated this year and even if the result in previous tournaments was meager, this time they are among the top favourites. The group opponents are Germany, Denmark and Finland.
Not to be forgotten are the European champions from the Netherlands, who became vice world champions in 2019 and reached the quarterfinals at the 2021 Olympics. The Englishman has been Mark Parsons as coach since last autumn and can count on record goalscorer Vivianne Miedema, Lineth Beerensteyn and future PSG player Lieke Martens in attack.
But the rest of the team and especially the experienced midfield around record player Sherinda Spitse, Jill Roord from Wolfsburg and Jackie Groenen are considered to be dangerous goalscorers. The dress rehearsal went horribly wrong with a 5-1 defeat against England, but the Dutch women shouldn’t be underestimated. In the group they meet Portugal, Switzerland and Sweden.
The fourth and final favorite of the tournament is Sweden. Peter Gerhardsson’s team, currently second in the Fifa rankings, is also going into the tournament with high expectations. They finished third at the 2019 World Cup and narrowly missed out on winning a gold medal on penalties at the 2021 Olympics.
Sweden won the first ever European Championship in 1984 and have reached at least the quarter-finals every time since. The squad lacks the really big stars, but it convinces with a very balanced and high level.
Above all, the offensive is very strong thanks to Fridolina Rolfö, Stina Blackstenius and Lina Hurtig and also on the defensive you can count on experienced players like Magda Eriksson, Bayern’s Hanna Glas or Linda Sembrant.
The Germans only have an outsider role in this field – but that can sometimes be comfortable, although an outsider team has never triumphed in the end at a women’s European Championship.