Women's Euros: Riise names Spain among favourites despite Putellas blow, tips England to fare well

By Sports Desk July 07, 2022

Spain remain among the favourites to win the Women's Euros despite losing Ballon d'Or winner Alexia Putellas to injury, according to former European champion Hege Riise, who also expects England to impress.

Putellas, who has scored 27 goals in 100 caps for Spain, was ruled out of the tournament after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury in training, leaving La Roja without one of their star players.

The 28-year-old top-scored in the Champions League with Barcelona last term, scoring 11 goals in continental competition as well as 18 on the domestic front as the Catalan giants won all 30 of their league games.

Her injury is just the latest blow to befall Spain ahead of their opening match against Finland on Friday, with record goalscorer Jennifer Hermoso also ruled out.

But Riise, who won the Women's World Cup in 1995 and the Euros in 1993 during a glorious spell with Norway, for whom she made 188 appearances, believes other players may step up in Putellas' absence.

"I've been expecting Spain to go through a few times now. And then obviously they got an injury for the key player," Riise told Stats Perform.

"So that will be a setback, of course, but maybe the team now steps out and works as a team and not individually. 

"They still do have some key players that will manage to do well, and a lot of them are playing for Barcelona, so they know how to play and know each other quite well. 

"So, I think Spain this time around can be a threat. Germany I'm not so sure about, but hopefully we'll get some surprises."

Riise did express her regret at missing out on seeing Putellas light up the tournament, however, adding: "In the women's game, when you have a world-class player, you want them in the tournament so the fans can see them in their own environment. 

"Obviously when she doesn't play you miss something, so you want the best player always to play in the Euros, World Cups and the Olympics."

Riise's own nation began their Group A campaign with a comprehensive 4-1 win over Northern Ireland at St Mary's on Thursday, and face hosts England next.

And while Riise believes Norway could test England at the Amex Stadium, she says the tournament experience of Lionesses boss Sarina Wiegman could make the hosts genuine contenders. 

"I saw the opening game with England [1-0 against Austria]. First half, I think they were outstanding," Riise added. "But they should have scored some more goals, in the second half, they showed that they can be vulnerable as well. 

"But they haven't lost any games in a long, long time. So, the confidence that they have and the fans in the stands will help them to build on this. But having the fans there could be positive and negative. 

"The attention makes you more nervous, but I think they are in a good place now and Sarina Wiegman has been in the Euros final with Holland [in 2017], same in the World Cup final [in 2019]. So, she has the experience.

"For the Norway-England match, it will be close but player for player, England are better. Though a team like Norway can, if not beat them, get a good result."

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