Friday 15 July 2022
Holders the Netherlands and fancied Sweden hold the top spots ahead of the UEFA Women’s EURO Group C deciders, but neither can afford to take their eye off the ball.
All four sides go into the final day of UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 Group C action with a chance of making it to the quarter-finals, which means outsiders Switzerland and Portugal can still reap a substantial reward for their encouraging performances in England.
UEFA.com looks forward to Sunday’s decisive fixtures.
Switzerland made their fans proud with what newspaper Blick called an “honourable defeat” against Sweden last time out – a verdict echoed in Tages-Anzeiger‘s headline: “Lost the match, gained a lot of respect.” Needing a win to have any chance of qualifying, Nils Nielsen’s side will be quietly fuming at how they failed to pick up three points in their first game, having squandered a 2-0 lead against Portugal, but they still have a right to dream in their final Group C game. “We can compete with the best,” says the Danish coach.
The Netherlands are the European champions, but if they have not been at their best so far, they have legitimate excuses: Sari van Veenendaal and Aniek Nouwen received nasty injuries in their opening game, while star striker Vivianne Miedema missed their second fixture through illness (from which Jackie Groenen has now recovered) and Stefanie van der Gragt received a boot to the nose while scoring in the 3-2 defeat of Portugal. “We keep getting punched in the face, and we keep coming back stronger,” says coach Mark Parsons, whose side need only avoid defeat to qualify.
Key stat: The Oranje have been a bogey team for the Swiss of late; they beat them in a play-off for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and also in the qualification tournament for the 2016 Olympics.
Like fellow Group C frontrunners the Netherlands, highly rated Sweden have failed to sparkle at this tournament so far, and while their 2-1 win against Switzerland last time out has left them within a point of a guaranteed quarter-final place, it wasn’t a joyful occasion for Kosovare Asllani. The key midfielder said she was “very angry” after the match, insisting that her side “have a lot more in us: we have to do better”. Vocal supporters have helped the Blågult no end, and they can only hope that the fans who backed them in Sheffield know the way to Leigh Sports Village.
No one backed Portugal ahead of the tournament, but the late replacements for Russia have done much more than make up the numbers, a 2-2 draw against Switzerland followed by a tense 3-2 loss to the Netherlands. Former England goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis, working as a BBC pundit, summed them up: “In attack they’ve been excellent; in defence they’ve been terrible.” Corners may be Portugal’s Achilles heel, but woe betide the team that switches off against them, with forward Diana Silva insisting they have it in them to shock Sweden (and qualify): “Playing like we are, it’s possible.”
Key stat: Sweden are appearing at their 11th EURO, fewer only than Italy and Norway (both 12). The Blågult have reached the quarter-finals or better on each previous occasion.
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