No World Cup, no problem. It’s time to get that summer tournament football fix and stepping up to provide it in 2022 is the women’s European Championship.
England will be hosting the tournament and Sarina Wiegman’s team will be looking to progress beyond the agony of semi-final defeats which have plagued the Lionesses in recent competitions.
But England’s progress this summer is not the only reason to become invested in the tournament as Sportsmail look at 10 reasons why you must watch Euro 2022.
England will host the 2022 European Championship – hoping to go all the way this summer
There is plenty of hype
It’s hard to recall such a buzz heading into Euro 2022 compared to past women’s European Championships.
The Wembley final sold out within an hour of going on sale, and we are not talking about sold out meaning the upper tier is closed.
Around 87,200 tickets have been snapped up so that is set to smash the record for a Women’s Euro final by well over double given the 41,302 that attended Euro 2013 when Germany beat hosts Sweden.
England’s games especially on home soil are set to be highly supported with all of the Lionesses’ group games also sold out at Old Trafford, the Amex Stadium and St Mary’s.
Wembley will host the final of Euro 2022, which with 87,200 tickets sold is already a sell-out
It’s being played in England
So if you are from British shores – go to a game! A major tournament is effectively taking place on your doorstep!
England’s matches may already be sold out in the group stage and the final may be gone too but there are plenty of other matches to attend to get involved with the tournament.
There are games taking place across four stadiums in the north in Manchester, Sheffield, Rotherham and Leigh, while the south coast will see games take place at Southampton and Brighton.
Helping bridge the gap between the northern grounds and Wembley will be the Stadium MK in Milton Keynes.
There is value for money to be had in attending the Championship, with tickets costing from as little as just £5 to around £50 depending on venue and stage of the competition.
England will be well supported across the country with venues in the north and south
It’s (maybe) coming home!
England have reached the semi-finals of the past three major tournaments – even claiming a third place at the World Cup in 2015 having emerged as major players in the women’s game over the last few years.
There’s plenty of competition for them to deal with this time around, but they are considered major contenders and the current side are well in the fight to lift the Lionesses’ first major trophy.
It’s an experienced squad Dutch coach Sarina Wiegman has picked, which includes heroes from the last World Cup in France in 2019 including Lucy Bronze and record goalscorer Ellen White.
However, there is room for the next generation of England stars led by new captain Leah Williamson, including young striker Ella Toone who will be looking to make an impact in her first major tournament after an excellent season with Manchester United.
Sadly, there is no room in the squad for former captain Steph Houghton who has been unable to prove her fitness after an injury-hit campaign.
But there remains enough quality to once again believe that (altogether now…) ‘football’s coming home!’
New England captain Leah Williamson will hope to lead a new generation of upcoming stars
Competition is high
Let’s not kid ourselves though. There are some excellent teams England will have to overcome if they are to triumph on home soil.
In fact, this Euros could be one of the most competitive we have seen with nearly a third of the teams all having legitimate shouts to win the tournament.
As hosts, England will of course be hoping to go the distance but the top ranked team in the tournament are Sweden – who are ranked second in the world behind the USA.
Holland meanwhile are the defending champions after defeating Denmark on home soil five years ago, while Germany can never be ruled out either given their strong pedigree.
It’s Spain though who are attracting the most interest and they travel to England as favourites having not lost any of their last 21 games – winning 18 of them – in a record that stretches back to early 2020 before the coronavirus outbreak.
Oh and they have conceded just two goals during that run over the last two years. Two!
Defending champions Holland are one of many teams looking to get their hands on the trophy
Can Germany can get back on track?
For a long time Germany dominated the women’s game in Europe – to the extent that before their quarter-final exit in 2017 they had won the competition on the previous six occasions dating back to 1995.
That quarter-final exit at the hands of eventual runners-up Denmark marked the country’s worst ever Euros having won the tournament an incredible eight times overall.
So there is plenty of interest to see how a German outfit in transition will fare this time around, especially after also enduring a quarter-final exit at the last World Cup three years ago.
The youthful prospects sit with attacking Bayern Munich trio Klara Buhl, Sydney Lohmann and Lea Schuller who will be hoping to drive the team towards becoming a major force again.
Germany will hope youthful stars such as Lea Schuller (left) can guide them back to the top
If you are new to the women’s game then there is hardly a better time to start watching.
Interest has increased in the game off the back of the Women’s Super League and Champions League but football has been progressing excellently in the women’s game over the last decade at least.
It is enjoyable and provides the kind of entertainment you would crave at any major competition during the summer with thrills, spills and dramatic twists.
You only have to see some of the best goals scored at the last World Cup – many by European stars – to appreciate the admirable skill levels.
Lucy Bronze (left) scored a stunning effort for England against Norway at the last World Cup
There is more than just England as far as Home Nation interest is concerned. Northern Ireland will also be at the European Championship – making their major tournament debut.
There will be no pressure on Kenny Shiels’ team who reached the tournament after defeating Ukraine via a play-off and intriguingly they are in England’s group as they look to cause a huge shock against the host nation.
Shiels caused controversy a couple of months back when he suggested women players are ‘more emotional than men’ and it leads to teams conceding more goals in quick succession.
His exploits in guiding Northern Ireland to the finals though appear to have kept him onside with his players… for now at least.
Much of the team are part-time and are captained by midfielder Marissa Callaghan who has played much of her senior career for Cliftonville where she has been since 2005.
The team do carry additional threats in Rachel Furness who is now a legend in the nation after England snubbed her for a trial as a teenager.
The midfielder has a record 38 goals in 81 caps and will be in the Women’s Super League next season following promotion with Liverpool.
Liverpool’s Rachel Furness will be a key player for Northern Ireland in their tournament debut
All the European stars in one place
Now’s the time to check out some of the best talent the women’s game has to offer.
We are not just talking about the WSL either, with plenty of talent also emerging from abroad that will line-up as well as go toe-to-toe with the best the English top flight has to offer.
Aside from the players already mentioned Caroline Graham Hansen has returned following treatment for a heart condition and the Barcelona star will be a welcome addition back to the international set-up for Norway at the finals.
Arsenal supporters may also want to check out Vivianne Miedema, with the forward just as prolific at international level as she is for the Gunners with 92 goals in just 108 games.
While another established star in Barcelona’s captain Alexia Putellas will be looking to fire Spain to glory this summer.
Young unknown stars may too use the Euros to make their mark and put themselves on the radar for the upcoming season and beyond so make sure you spot them before they emerge as big names.
Arsenal star Vivianne Miedema will be a key player for Holland at the European Championship
We need a summer tournament fix
Let’s be honest, no summer is complete without a major tournament and with the World Cup deciding to try and gatecrash the Christmas build up instead, it’s time to let the women shine.
There was plenty of interest in watching England progress through the World Cup towards the semi-finals in France three years ago and even if you have no allegiance towards the Lionesses, just watching the games will see you attracted to one team. It’s what these tournaments tend to do.
The last World Cup in France delivered in terms of engagement and excitement that we come to expect outside of the club game at this time of year.
So instead of counting down the days towards the start of the domestic season, why not get carried away with a major competition when it is served up? Even David Beckham got sucked in at the World Cup in France.
England legend David Beckham cheered on the Lionesses during the last World Cup in France
Free to air
You have no excuse not to watch it either, especially in the UK as games will be screened free to air on BBC.
Every England and Northern Ireland game will be screened on BBC One and almost all the games will be screened across the channel as well as BBC Two.
Either way all 31 matches will still be shown on the BBC iPlayer as well as the BBC Sport website.
Post source: Daily mail