Mary Earps has nothing to apologise for after her error against the Netherlands contributed to England's early exit from the Women's Nations League, says former Lionesses goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis.

England entered December's international window battling the Netherlands to top Group A1, needing to do so to keep Team GB's chances of reaching the 2024 Olympic Games alive.

Though the Lionesses beat the Oranje 3-2 on December 1, that result failed to put them in control of their own destiny, with a visibly upset Earps saying she had "let the team down" after allowing Lineth Beerensteyn's shot to squirm in at her near post.

Though England routed Scotland 6-0 in their final group game, that result was not enough as the Netherlands beat Belgium 4-0 with Damaris Egurrola scoring two stoppage-time goals.

That meant they edged out Sarina Wiegman's team by a single goal on the goal difference tiebreaker, preserving their own hopes of participating in Paris.

Though Earps' error eventually proved costly, Brown-Finnis says her performances throughout England's triumphant Euro 2022 campaign – as well as their run to this year's World Cup final – more than make up for it. 

Speaking at the launch of the first ever Panini Barclays Women's Super League sticker collection at the National Football Museum, Brown-Finnis said: "I think she'll learn from that. 

"You have an emotional reaction after the game and it's hard to keep that under wraps, whether that's good or whether that's a negative emotional reaction or an angry reaction.

"I think she'll learn that she was not to blame. She knows she made a mistake and she owned that mistake and she wanted to outwardly acknowledge that.

"I understand the sentiment behind [Earps apologising], but the amount of credit she has in the bank for her performances in the World Cup and the European Championships, since she's had that number one shirt on her back…

"She is the world's best goalkeeper. She's England's number one and she has nothing to be sorry for."

Earps enjoyed a stellar campaign as England finished as World Cup runners-up in August, winning the Golden Glove and saving a penalty in their 1-0 final defeat to Spain.

She won the prestigious BBC Sports Personality of the Year award earlier this month, seeing off competition from cricketer Stuart Broad and golf star Rory McIlroy.

Speaking alongside Brown-Finnis, Earps' England team-mate Chloe Kelly said: "Mary's unbelievable, a great personality, a great girl and unbelievable on the pitch.

"She's achieving great things at the minute, and it's all due to her hard work, her determination. Credit to her."

Manchester United forward Nikita Parris, who plays alongside Earps for both club and country, added: "She's massively important. 

"Great team-mate, great player. She's had an unbelievable couple of years and she deserves all the awards she's up for. 

"Don't forget BBC Sports Personality – that's a massive achievement, something that in England, we all love to watch. I really wish her the best."

England manager Sarina Wiegman believes Beth Mead has “shown enough” to earn her recall to the squad for the Lionesses’ final Nations League fixtures.

It is a welcome return to the international fold for the 28-year-old Arsenal forward, who resumed club action last month after suffering an ACL injury last November and has now earned an England call-up for the first time in over a year.

Tottenham midfielder Grace Clinton and Manchester City goalkeeper Khiara Keating retain their places in the Lionesses’ 23-player squad, having received their first senior call-ups in October.

England play their final two games of the year, starting with the Netherlands at Wembley on December 1 before facing Scotland at Hampden Park four days later and Wiegman is delighted to have Mead’s experience for those games.

“It’s really nice, she’s played minutes, she’s in a good place and still building too, but that was a very nice phone call, she was very happy,” Wiegman told a press conference.

“We’ve had conversations all the time, we had conversations before September camp and during and in October too because she was already fully training and getting some minutes but I just wanted to see a little more and that’s what we’ve seen now.

“Her health is really good so she can just go and she’s showed of course in games that she’s in a good place and we want her to keep growing and improving.

“She’s shown enough to me and for my technical staff to bring her in.

“She is a character that brings positive energy off the pitch and on the pitch and it’s good to have her back. Her experience, the way she plays, she’s different than other players on the wing, she brings different things so that’s good we have different opportunities again. Off pitch gives us some extra energy.”

England are currently third in Group A1 of the Nations League following a disappointing 3-2 loss to Belgium last month, their second defeat in four group matches.

Plenty is at stake in the competition as the winners of League A will reach the finals, which act as Europe’s 2024 Olympic qualifiers, meaning that hopes of a qualification spot in Paris are in danger for Team GB.

With two games remaining to try and turn things around, Wiegman insists England’s preparations will remain the same and has called on her side to be “more ruthless” in the final third.

“I think the Belgium game, the difference of us to them was so big,” she said.

“That last result was not a reflection of how we were in camp. Yes we’re in a situation where we absolutely need wins, we know that, we’re aware of that.

“When we go into a camp we want to win games. We haven’t done that lately in all our games and that’s what we want to do.

“Our approach will not all of a sudden change, we just review our last game, we prepare for the Netherlands first and the process we do will not be a lot different because I think we still do good things, we have to do better in moments of the game.

“In the final third we create a lot of chances but have to be more ruthless and we have to be aware of the counter-attack, be better and tighter on the ball.”

Wiegman also took time to congratulate Chelsea manager Emma Hayes on her appointment as new head coach of the United States women’s team, a role she will take up at the end of the season.

“She’s done a tremendous job, incredible results she’s had over a decade,” Wiegman added.

“I think for her it’s good to move on and I congratulated her of course with the new job, it’s very exciting for her. For her it’s really good and overall in the bigger picture it’s good for the women’s game too.”

Vivianne Miedema says she has "no hopes" of featuring for the Netherlands at this year's Women's World Cup.

Miedema underwent surgery after rupturing her ACL during Arsenal's Champions League group-stage game against Lyon in December.

The 26-year-old – who is the Netherlands' all-time leading scorer with 95 goals in 115 appearances – joined partner and Arsenal team-mate Beth Mead on the sidelines after the England forward suffered the same injury one month earlier.

Lionesses boss Sarina Wiegman recently said Mead required "a miracle" to recover before the World Cup begins in July, and Miedema also expects to miss the tournament.

Asked if she had any hope of featuring in Australia and New Zealand by the BBC, Miedema said: "No hopes. I'm going to miss the World Cup, which is hard.

"But I hope to be back ready for the start of next season. I need to be realistic. Recovery is going really well. It's slow but little steps.

"[Mead is] obviously a bit in front of me, but I think you heard what Sarina said last week; there needs to be a bit of a miracle for her to be fit for the World Cup.

"It's frustrating for me because I'm a month behind, so I see her doing a lot of things and I'm not there yet."

Vivianne Miedema feels "gutted" to have ruptured her ACL after lightning struck twice for Arsenal, with the Netherlands striker suffering the same cruel knee injury as her partner Beth Mead.

Arsenal and Miedema confirmed the striker's setback on Monday, with the club saying the WSL's all-time record goalscorer faces an "extended" lay-off, just like Mead who sustained the same blow in November.

Both could now miss the Women's World Cup, which will be hosted by Australia and New Zealand in July and August next year.

Miedema appears to have counted herself out of the reckoning for that tournament, four days after the injury occurred in a European clash with Lyon.

She said: "It was one of those moments, where I knew straight away. So many things going through your head: I won't be able to help my team anymore this season, no World Cup, surgery and rehab for a long time."

She expects "plenty of difficult days" and said there had already been tears.

The anterior cruciate ligament injury is one that requires surgery and a long recovery period, and Arsenal's hopes in this season's Women's Super League and Women's Champions League have taken a fresh hit with the loss of Miedema so soon after Mead's setback.

Mead posted a message of support to her 26-year-old girlfriend and team-mate, saying: "STRONGER TOGETHER! I was given sympathy for 3 weeks and now she has to go get some of her own but we got this, YOU got this."

England international Mead joked that there would be "two new signings incoming", but the jollity masks a bitter reality for Arsenal, both players, and their national teams.

Arsenal said in a statement: "We can confirm that Vivianne Miedema suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament during our UEFA Women's Champions League match against Lyon at Emirates Stadium on Thursday.

"Viv will undergo surgery in the coming days and will unfortunately be ruled out for an extended period of time. A more detailed timescale will be established once the operation is complete.

"Everyone at Arsenal wishes Viv well in her recovery and will be providing her with all the support she needs to return to action as soon as possible."

France earned a deserved 1-0 extra-time victory over the Netherlands on Saturday to eliminate the reigning champions and reach the semi-finals of the Women's Euros for the first time.

The Netherlands had won eight of their past nine games in the competition, a run that took them all the way to glory five years ago, but they were outclassed by France at the New York Stadium in Rotherham.

Dutch keeper Daphne van Domselaar produced a number of fine saves to frustrate Les Bleues, the best of which saw her deny Wendie Renard from the final act in normal time.

But France found a breakthrough in the 102nd minute through an Eve Perisset penalty, awarded following a VAR check after Dominique Janssen clearly brought down Kadidiatou Diani.

Van Domselaar got fingertips to the spot-kick but could not keep it out and the Netherlands, who eliminated France at this stage in 2009, were unable to find a leveller.

Corinne Diacre's side, who finished with an expected goals (xG) value of 4.45 to the Netherlands' 0.60, will now face Germany on Wednesday for a place in the final.

England and Sweden meet in the other semi-final on Tuesday, with the final set for July 31 at Wembley.

England tackle Spain in a heavyweight quarter-final as the knockout stages of Euro 2022 get under way on Wednesday, with records already tumbling and data quirks around every corner.

The tournament has just passed its halfway stage in terms of the total number of games, with 16 of 31 having been played, and already more spectators have seen the finals in England than have attended any previous Women's Euros.

UEFA said 369,314 tickets were sold for group-stage games, with the soaring popularity of the women's game meaning the tournament attendance record of 240,055, set in the Netherlands five years ago, has been obliterated.

Sarina Wiegman's free-scoring England Lionesses have played an instrumental part in the tournament's success to date, with the host nation rallying around a team who scored a record 14 goals in the group stage, with Beth Mead's personal haul of five goals so far also a new all-time best for the group round.

Now the knockout stages await and the stakes are raised. Stats Perform, assisted by data from Opta, has looked at the tournament so far, plus each last-eight game, to see where the title might be won and lost.

The story so far

England have been the deadliest finishers, scoring 14 goals with a conversion rate of 24.6 per cent. Sweden sit next on that list, putting away 23.5 per cent of chances to net eight goals, five of which came in their final group game against Portugal.

France have scored all eight of their goals in the first half of their games, while England have hit nine before the interval and added five afterwards. The Netherlands have only scored twice prior to half-time in their games but have netted six second-half strikes, the most of all teams.

Switzerland exited after losing in painfully familiar fashion, with a second-half capitulation in going down 4-1 to the Dutch. The Swiss kept three first-half clean sheets in Group C but were pushovers after the interval, conceding eight times. In sharp contrast, all three of the goals Spain have shipped have come in the opening 45 minutes.

Spain have played the most passes overall, excluding crosses. Their total of 2,052 passes has come with an 86.0 per cent accuracy rate, while England have attempted the second highest number of passes (1,674) with a competition-leading 86.5 per cent precision.

The Spanish national team are famed for their possession-based, attractive football, teasing their way through defences with clever passes. Yet four of Spain's five goals have been headers, compared to three of 14 for England.

Mead sits top of the goal involvements list with seven (five goals, two assists), which puts her comfortably ahead of England team-mate Fran Kirby and Sweden's Kosovare Asllani, both of whom have scored once and set up three goals for a total of four involvements each.

Spain have the top five on the list of players with the most passes in the opposition half, led by defender Mapi Leon who has played 176 passes with a success rate of 90.3 per cent. For passes into the final third, Leon's accuracy dips to 83 per cent.

Best is still to come...

QUARTER-FINAL 1: Spain v England – July 20, Brighton

England have a record of played two, won two in previous Women's Euros quarter-finals, beating Finland 3-2 in 2009 and then edging France 1-0 five years ago in the Netherlands. Meanwhile, Spain have lost both of their previous games at this stage, going down 3-1 to Norway in 2013 and suffering a penalty shoot-out defeat to Austria in 2017, following a goalless draw.

Four of England's starters from the 2017 win over France have played in every game so far at these finals: Lucy Bronze, Mille Bright, Kirby and Ellen White.

England have never lost on home soil against Spain (P7 W4 D3), with the teams battling out a 0-0 draw when they last met in February. However, Spain have beaten England three times before when taking all 15 previous encounters into account, losing six and drawing six.

Including a 20-0 win over Latvia last November, England have scored 98 goals in their 17 games under head coach Sarina Wiegman, scoring an average of 5.8 goals per game and only conceding three times.

Mead's haul of five goals so far matches Jodie Taylor's Lionesses record haul from the last Euros, which won her the Golden Boot. Spain have scored five goals in total during this tournament, with five different scorers.

QF2: Germany v Austria – July 21, Brentford

Germany are one of two teams, along with England, who have yet to concede a goal. That does not bode well for Austria, who are making their second appearance at this stage after beating Norway in the last round of group games.

The Austrians will start as big underdogs against the eight-time champions (winners once as West Germany, seven times as Germany), with Germany having won 15 of their most recent 16 games when going beyond the group stages. That had been a 15-game winning run until Denmark halted it in the 2017 quarter-finals, scoring a surprise 2-1 win.

Austria might need Barbara Dunst's luck to change if they are to stand any chance. Dunst has had 11 shots and created eight chances for Austria so far in this tournament, but she has yet to score or have an assist. She had the most direct involvements in shots (19) without scoring or assisting of all players in the group stage.

QF3: Sweden v Belgium – July 22, Leigh

Sweden are the highest-placed team on the FIFA ranking list, sitting second, behind the United States. They are quietly going about their business in England, and it would be a major surprise for them not to reach the semi-finals from this tie.

Including penalties, Sweden scored more goals from set-pieces than any other side in the group stage (5). Belgium might be concerned by that, given two of the three goals they have conceded came from dead-ball scenarios.

Of the eight quarter-finalists, Belgium scored the joint-fewest goals (3) in the group stage, had the fewest shots (21), the fewest shots on target (11) and the lowest expected goals total (2.6). The Red Flames surely need to find more of a spark for this big game.

QF4: France v Netherlands – July 23, Rotherham

France will be playing a fourth consecutive match in Rotherham, a town which is twinned with the French city of Saint-Quentin.

This is also a fourth consecutive Women's Euros quarter-final for France, who have lost each time at this stage, including a penalty shoot-out defeat to the Netherlands in 2009. They were beaten on spot-kicks by Denmark in 2013, and then slumped 1-0 to England in 2017. France have lost star striker Marie-Antoinette Katoto to an ACL knee injury, so memories of fast-flowing football in their opening 5-1 win over Italy are becoming distant.

Defending their title this time, the Netherlands have lost Euro 2017 player of the tournament Lieke Martens to injury and star goalscorer Vivianne Miedema has been sidelined of late after a COVID-19 positive test.

Yet the Dutch have progressed on each of the two occasions they have reached the quarter-finals previously, with the win over France in 2009 followed in 2017 by a 2-0 victory over Sweden.

Lieke Martens, the Netherlands' star performer in their Women's Euro 2017 success, will play no further part in the Oranje's title defence.

The former Barcelona winger, who has just joined Paris Saint-Germain, was the Player of the Tournament in the previous Women's Euros.

The Netherlands won that tournament in surely the highlight of an outstanding year for Martens, who was also the UEFA Women's Player of the Year and The Best FIFA Women's Player.

And the 29-year-old had appeared set to play a key role for the Netherlands again in England, creating a joint-high seven Oranje chances in the group stage – including assisting Danielle van de Donk's winner against Portugal – and attempting six shots herself.

But the Netherlands announced on Tuesday the injury Martens had sustained in their third match against Switzerland would rule her out for the remainder of the finals.

"Lieke Martens suffered a foot injury during the match against Switzerland," a post on the team's Twitter page read.

"Further investigation has shown that it is no longer possible for her to take action during this European Championship. Lots of luck, Lieke."

The Netherlands face highly fancied France in the quarter-finals in Rotherham on Saturday.

The Netherlands must tackle France in the Euro 2022 quarter-finals after Sweden denied the defending champions top spot in Group C on Sunday.

Both teams won in their final group games, meaning they finished level on seven points and were separated by goal difference, having drawn when they faced each other earlier in the tournament.

Sweden thumped Portugal 5-0 while the Netherlands were 4-1 winners against Switzerland following a rush of late goals. Sweden finished with a plus-six goal difference, two better than the Netherlands achieved.

It means that five years on from triumphing on home soil, the Dutch must do it the hard way if they are to go deeper into this tournament, with France having caught the eye, particularly in their 5-1 rout of Italy.

France are certain to top Group D, while Sweden await the runner-up from that pool, with Italy, Iceland and Belgium all still in the hunt ahead of Monday's last round of matches.

Sweden, who sit second in the FIFA rankings, behind only the United States, showed why they should be taken seriously as contenders to win this tournament as they mauled Portugal in Leigh.

Filippa Angeldal scored twice for Sweden in the first half, and a Carole Costa own goal made it 3-0 at the break, before Kosovare Asllani's penalty and a late fifth from Stina Blackstenius completed the convincing victory. It matched Sweden's biggest victory at a European Championship.

Captain Asllani said: "We are feeling great. It was our goal to get through the group from the beginning. Today we had to win and we wanted to score as many goals as possible to win the game."

Quoted on UEFA's official website, she added: "We have a lot of respect for Portugal, they have developed a lot, but at the same time we just wanted to go all in and be as aggressive as possible in the last third."

The Netherlands were without star striker Vivianne Miedema for a second successive game after her COVID-19 positive test, but they still got the win against the Swiss at Bramall Lane.

It was a tight game until three late Dutch goals gave the scoreline a lopsided look. An own goal from Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic gave the Netherlands a 49th-minute lead, but Geraldine Reuteler levelled up four minutes later.

The teams remained locked until the 84th minute when Romee Leuchter netted the first of her late double, with Victoria Pelova also scoring in the dying moments.

The Netherlands and Sweden each survived scares as they secured first wins in Group C having drawn their Women's Euro 2022 opener.

The two pool favourites would have considered their meeting last week the toughest test of the first stage of the tournament, but Portugal and Switzerland were no pushovers on Wednesday.

Those two had played out their own entertaining draw, and Portugal repeated the two-goal comeback that rescued that point.

The Netherlands were coasting after a pair of headed goals through Damaris Egurrola and Stefanie van der Gragt, but the VAR spotted a foul on Diana Silva late in the first half that allowed Carole Costa to pull a goal back.

And Silva's header from Costa's cross had Portugal level, before the Oranje were again frustrated by a video review when Jill Roord's effort was struck off following a four-minute delay.

The defending European champions finally got their act together, though, and Danielle van de Donk arrowed into the top-right corner to earn a 3-2 Netherlands win.

It had been a similar story in the early game as Sweden beat Switzerland 2-1.

Sweden were the beneficiaries of a VAR review when Noelle Maritz went down easily and a penalty award was overturned, before Fridolina Rolfo steered the world's second-ranked side in front.

However, a fine Ramona Bachmann finish only 92 seconds later had Switzerland back on terms.

Teenage Sweden substitute Hanna Bennison restored the advantage with a 20-yard drive, yet her side were never in real comfort as they saw two late goals ruled out for offside.

Netherlands star Vivianne Miedema has tested positive for COVID-19, ruling her out of the Oranje's Group C fixture with Portugal on Wednesday.

Miedema scored 14 goals in 22 Women's Super League appearances for runners-up Arsenal last season, a tally only bettered by Chelsea's Sam Kerr (20).

The 25-year-old, widely regarded as one of the best players in the women's game, has also netted an incredible 94 goals in 112 international appearances, making her the Netherlands' all-time leading scorer.

Miedema started her country's Euro 2022 opener on Saturday, a 1-1 draw with Sweden, but coronavirus will prevent her facing Portugal.

An update from the Oranje's Twitter account read: "Vivianne Miedema has unfortunately tested positive for COVID-19 and will therefore be in isolation for the next few days. 

"When she no longer has any symptoms and tests negative, she can re-join the selection."

Miedema has scored 11 goals for the Netherlands since head coach Mark Parsons took charge last year – no Dutch player has more – and netted four times as the side won the last edition of the Women's Euros in 2017, including a brace in a 4-2 final win over Denmark.

It remains unclear whether the Arsenal forward will be back in action by the time the Netherlands finish their Group C campaign against Switzerland at Bramall Lane on Sunday.

Netherlands goalkeeper and captain Sari van Veenendaal has been ruled out of the remainder of the Women's Euro 2022 with a shoulder injury.

The 32-year-old sustained the injury during the reigning champions' opening Group C match against Sweden on Saturday, which finished in a 1-1 draw.

Netherlands head coach Mark Parsons said at the time that the injury "does not look good", and it was confirmed on Monday that Van Veenendaal will return home for treatment.

"It's terrible news," Parsons said. "First of all for Sari, of course, but also for our entire team. 

"Sari is much more than a player of our selection. She is our captain and a very important leader. We will miss her very much."

PSV goalkeeper Van Veenendaal will be replaced in the squad by Feyenoord's Jacintha Weimar, who was named on the Netherlands' standby list.

It is the second blow in as many days for the Oranje after announcing on Sunday that midfielder Jackie Groenen is isolating after testing positive for coronavirus.

Parsons' side are back in action against Portugal at Leigh Sports Village on Wednesday.

Netherlands midfielder Jackie Groenen is set to miss the defending champions' second game at Euro 2022 after testing positive for COVID-19 on Sunday.

The news emerged just 13 hours after Groenen played the full 90 minutes against Sweden in the Netherlands' opener, a 1-1 draw at Sheffield United's Bramall Lane stadium.

In a statement on Twitter, Oranje team officials stated: "Jackie Groenen has unfortunately tested positive for COVID-19 and will therefore be in isolation for the next few days. When she is free of complaints and tests negative, she can rejoin the selection."

After the draw with a Sweden team who are strongly fancied to advance alongside the Dutch to the quarter-final stage, the Netherlands play their next game against Portugal on Wednesday in Leigh, before returning to Bramall Lane next Sunday to tackle Switzerland.

Groenen plays club football for Manchester United, with the 27-year-old having played for the Women's Super League side since the 2019-20 season.

She became the team's first-ever overseas recruit, arriving following United's promotion to the English top flight.

Jill Roord rescued a point for the Netherlands as the holders made an unconvincing start to their European Championship defence, held 1-1 by Sweden in Sheffield.


Two of the pre-tournament favourites faced off at Bramall Lane, and it was Sweden, unbeaten so far in 2022, who took a 1-0 lead into the break after a low Kosovare Asllani cross found Jonna Andersson to slot a 36th-minute opener.

The Netherlands defeated the Swedes in the semi-finals of the 2019 World Cup, and they equalised in the 52nd minute when a fortunate deflection ran into the path of Roord who fired into the bottom-left corner.

Sari van Veenendaal in the Netherlands goal was forced off due to injury in the first half, and substitute goalkeeper Daphne van Domselaar made an important stop to deny Fridolina Rolfo a late winner.

Portugal came from two goals down to finish 2-2 with Switzerland in Leigh, in the day's other Group C game.

Switzerland had not won in six matches prior to their opener, including 4-0 and 7-0 thrashings from England and Germany respectively in their pre-tournament friendlies.

But their Euros campaign looked to be off to a flyer when a 25-yard shot from Coumba Sow and a powerful header from Rahel Kiwic put the Swiss 2-0 up after just five minutes.

Portugal had not had a shot on target by the time the referee blew the half-time whistle, and needed to improve if they were to find a way back.

They did exactly that and halved the deficit after 58 minutes when Diana Gomes met a corner from the left. Her initial header was saved, but she made no mistake with the rebound to make it 2-1.

The Portuguese then got themselves on level terms just seven minutes later, when a superb cross from Tatiana Pinto picked out Jessica Silva in the box, and she smartly side-footed into the bottom corner.

Both teams hit the woodwork late on in their pursuit for a winner, with Geraldine Reuteler and Telma Encarnacao the players going close.

In the next round of fixtures on Wednesday, the Netherlands play Portugal in Leigh as they look to get a foothold in Group C, while Switzerland and Sweden face off at Bramall Lane.

Maybe this time football really is 'coming home'.

Hosts England are widely considered among the favourites to win Euro 2022 as Sarina Wiegman leads the Lionesses onto the big stage, and they can be considered marginal front-runners for a wide-open tournament.

That conclusion is based on modelling from Stats Perform's Artificial Intelligence team, using Opta's data reserves to quantify each team's chances of winning the entire tournament.

Every match has been run through the Stats Perform Women's Euro prediction model to calculate the estimated probability of the outcome (win, draw or loss). This uses odds from betting markets and Stats Perform team rankings, which are based on historical and recent performances.

The model takes into consideration the strength of each team's opponents as well as the difficulty of their respective paths to the final, plus the make-up of the groups and any relevant seedings heading into the knockouts.

The rest of the tournament is then simulated thousands of times and analysed, providing the probability of each team progressing round by round and ultimately lifting the trophy at Wembley on July 31.

Spain have been widely portrayed as favourites, but La Roja might find it hard going in England. Here is a run-down of the AI results, and they might shock you.


1. England (19.3 per cent)

Runners-up in 1984 and 2009, perhaps England's second European finals on home soil could bring about a triumph the Lionesses have longed to achieve.

They have such immense strength in their forward ranks that Ellen White, joint top scorer at the 2019 World Cup, is not assured of her place in the team. The likes of Ella Toone, Beth Mead and Alessia Russo could push White for the starting spot as striker, with three attackers set to feature in behind, as manager Wiegman looks to blow away the opposition.

England are given an 81.9 per cent chance of coming through the group stage to reach the quarter-finals, a 54.1 per cent shot at getting through to the semi-finals, and a 31.1 per cent hope of making it through to the Wembley trophy match. Their 19.3 per cent chance of carrying off the trophy means it is hardly a given that England will finish bathed in glory, and that is because the opposition is so strong.

2. France (18.5 per cent)

Les Bleues left Amandine Henry and Eugenie Le Sommer out of their squad, meaning two of their recognised stars will be conspicuously absent from Corinne Diacre's team.

Stats Perform's women's football Power Rankings puts France second on the global list, behind only the United States, but coach Diacre is dicing with danger by omitting proven performers. Should things go wrong, fingers will likely be pointing her way.

However, at the back France have the stalwart Wendie Renard skippering the side, while in attack the Paris Saint-Germain striker Marie-Antoinette Katoto should make a big impact on her first major senior tournament. They possess quality, notwithstanding the notable absentees.

France have Italy, Belgium and Iceland as Group D rivals and are given a 74.8 per cent chance of advancing and are rated 49.1 per cent shots to make in into the semi-finals.

3. Sweden (14.6 per cent)

FIFA ranks Sweden second in its own rankings, and the Scandinavians were only denied Olympic gold in Tokyo last year after a penalty shoot-out loss to Canada in the final.

They might lack superstar names, but the likes of Barcelona's Fridolina Rolfo, Milan's Kosovare Asllani and Arsenal's Stina Blackstenius are players to keep an eye on.

The Swedes are given an 84.2 per cent chance of reaching the quarter-finals – the highest percentage of all teams – as they head into a group that also features defending champions the Netherlands along with Switzerland and Portugal.

4. Germany (11.5 per cent)

The eight-time winners cannot be ruled out, but they are no longer the team that everyone fears. Starting off in the same pool as Spain complicates their task considerably, with Euro 2017 runners-up Denmark also in Group C, along with Finland.

Given that line-up, Germany are given a 72.8 per cent shot at finishing in the top two and reaching the quarter-finals, plus a 43.2 per cent chance of making the last four and  a 22.0 per cent prospect of getting through to the final.

5. Spain (8.8 per cent)

Some might scoff at Spain being given such a low rating, but they face the same problem as Germany initially, with no guarantee of escaping Group C.

Jorge Vilda's Spain are built on formidable foundations, with players from Barcelona and Real Madrid dominating their squad. Barcelona won all 30 of their domestic league games last year, but their players were knocked out of stride by defeat to Lyon in the Champions League final.

Having the likes of 100-cap playmaker Alexia Putellas in their ranks makes Spain an undoubted threat. However, she has suffered an injury on the eve of the tournament, and Spain have yet to triumph on the big-tournament stage. Like Spain's men before they found a winning formula, the women's football can be a joy to watch, but their efficiency in front of goal can be lacking.

They have reached quarter-finals at the last two editions of the Euros, and are rated as 71.6 per cent likely to at least go that far this time around. Will they reach a final first? The AI analysis gives them just a 19.0 per cent chance of featuring in the Wembley showpiece.

6. Netherlands 7.2 per cent

Champions last time out when they hosted, the Dutch will believe they can defend their title, and the team's opener against Sweden will tell us a lot about their potential.

Englishman Mark Parsons has stepped in to replace Euro 2017-winning boss Wiegman, inheriting a group containing the likes of Vivianne Miedema, Lieke Martens and Danielle van de Donk, who are all potential stars of the tournament.

This time the Netherlands are given only a 64.6 per cent chance of advancing to the quarters, and a 15.8 per cent hope of reaching another final. A 5-1 pasting by England in a pre-finals friendly has cast doubt on whether they can be the same force as five years ago. If they fail to top Group C, a likely quarter-final with France awaits.

TITLE CHANCES OF THE REST (all figures are percentages): Belgium 4.5, Italy 2.9, Iceland 2.8, Austria 2.6, Norway 2.3, Switzerland 2.3, Denmark 1.1, Finland 0.6, Portugal 0.6, Northern Ireland 0.3

Anita Asante featured at three Women's European Championships, and big-stage experience makes the former England defender a shrewd judge of the teams that will go for glory this month.

The Euro 2022 finals kick off when England face Austria at a sold-out Old Trafford on Wednesday, with the tournament climaxing in the July 31 final at Wembley.

Spain start as many people's favourites, but defending champions the Netherlands, hosts England, France, Germany and Sweden are also firmly in the frame.

Stats Perform sat down with 71-cap star Asante ahead of the tournament getting under way.

The 37-year-old spoke of how a Dutch striker reminds her of the great Dennis Bergkamp, her hopes for England and belief in the Lionesses' Dutch boss Sarina Wiegman, and why Spain are such an exciting proposition.

Asante Asanta's verdict on...

... why England are serious trophy contenders this time

"I think England have a really great chance. We have a fantastic squad. They've got to three semi-finals consecutively [2015 and 2019 World Cup, Euro 2017]. So this is an England team that is competing at the highest level. Of course, they're going to have to challenge the Dutch, the French, the Spanish, who are also an ascending force, Germany with a kind of historic legacy of winning major tournaments. But I think they've got all the components to do that. And they've shown that in previous tournaments, it's just those fine margins.

"We saw with the men's Euros, just how the whole nation kind of stops, gets to a standstill. And it's all about the team and whatever everyone can do to support the team and put good vibes into the universe for them. Hopefully, we can emulate that and get a great mass of support behind the women's England team."

...Sarina Wiegman, champion coach with the Netherlands at Euro 2017 who now bosses England's Lionesses

"She seems a very assured manager. She really knows what she's about and what she wants to impart on the squad. In tournaments, you just never know what can happen with your squad: illnesses, injuries, lots of different challenges from outside. So you need everyone to pull together and have a good relationship as well in terms of communication.

"She wants the team to be confident in possession and that they really enjoy having the ball and utilising their threats. And that's the thing I've enjoyed about watching the England team."

... the mighty Spain team that could take Euro 2022 by storm

"You can see that they are a very fluid kind of team where they are very composed in possession. They don't really adjust the way they play to other teams, they're more the sort of team that go and take their games to the opposition. I think that's what we've seen domestically. And it's kind of what we're probably expecting with the Spanish national team as well, because a lot of those players obviously play in the national team as well. So they have a good understanding of each other from club level.

"I think, arguably, the biggest criticism may be that they maybe have lacked the kind of clinical finishes that we've seen with other European sides in like an Ada Hegerberg, for example, for Norway, but they are definitely an exciting outfit with incredible players. And obviously Ballon d'Or winners to look out for, so they'll definitely be hot contenders."

... the brilliance of Netherlands and Arsenal forward Vivianne Miedema

"What can you say about Miedema? She's a prolific number nine, but we also know, she can play as a false nine and kind of as a 10. She has that versatility to her game as well as her vision. She can pick out passes that the other players and maybe even pundits don't see. So that's an incredible skill to have.

"In and around the box, she's lethal. Left foot, right foot, she can finish. But with her, it's the finesse. She kind of reminds me of that Bergkamp-esque finesse where she just chops players and you think she's going to shoot, and then she puts you on the floor and checks back in and takes a strike or slips someone in."

... the thrill of playing tournament football

"As a young girl, my ambition was always to play for England. Walking out the tunnel, getting in your shirt, playing in international competitions that are viewed globally, is such an incredible thing as a female athlete.

"It's all the young girls and all the younger players now who get to do that. They're really living a dream, essentially. And it's a fantastic thing that the younger generation have role models to look up to, to help them see that that dream can be a reality."

... who she considers the favourites

"I have to say England. I actually really believe that we have enough quality in the squad to reach a final and hopefully build that belief as we go along in the competition to really get over the line. Hopefully that home support will give them extra energy throughout the tournament."

Page 1 of 2
© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.