TEN reasons you must watch Euro 2022
No World Cup, no problem. It’s time to arrange that soccer tournament for the summer and to provide it in 2022 is the European Championship for Women.
England will host the tournament and Sarina Wiegman’s team will try to move beyond the agony of semi-final defeats that have plagued the Lionesses in recent competitions.
But England’s progress this summer isn’t the only reason to invest in the tournament, because sports post look at 10 reasons why you should watch Euro 2022.
England host the 2022 European Championship – hoping to go all out this summer
There is a lot of hype
It’s hard to remember such a buzz on the road to Euro 2022 compared to previous women’s European Championships.
The Wembley final sold out within an hour of the sale, and we’re not talking sold out, meaning the top tier is closed.
About 87,200 tickets have been secured, so that will break the record for a women’s Euro final by more than double, given the 41,302 who attended Euro 2013 when Germany defeated hosts Sweden.
England’s matches, especially at home soil, are expected to be heavily supported as all of the Lionesses’ group matches are also sold out at Old Trafford, Amex Stadium and St Mary’s.
Wembley will host the Euro 2022 final, which is already sold out with 87,200 tickets sold
It is played in England
So if you’re coming from British shores, go see a match! A major tournament is effectively taking place right outside the door!
England’s matches may already be sold out in the group stage and the final may already be over, but there are plenty of other matches to attend to join the tournament.
Matches take place in four stadiums in the north in Manchester, Sheffield, Rotherham and Leigh, while on the south coast matches take place in Southampton and Brighton.
The Stadium MK in Milton Keynes helps bridge the gap between the northern grounds and Wembley.
There is value for money attending the Championship, with tickets costing from as little as £5 to around £50 depending on the venue and stage of the competition.
England will be well supported across the country with locations in the North and South
It’s (maybe) coming home!
England have made it to the semi-finals of the last three major tournaments – even taking third place at the World Cup in 2015 and have become key players in the women’s game in recent years.
There is plenty of competition for them this time around, but they are considered big contenders and the current squad is well on their way to win the Lionesses’ first major trophy.
It is an experienced team selected by Dutch coach Sarina Wiegman, which includes heroes from the last World Cup in France in 2019, including Lucy Bronze and record scorer Ellen White.
However, there is room for the next generation of English stars led by new captain Leah Williamson, including young striker Ella Toone, who is looking to impress in her first major tournament after a stellar season with Manchester United.
Unfortunately, there is no place in the squad for former captain Steph Houghton, who has been unable to prove her fitness after an injury campaign.
But there’s enough quality left to believe again that (now completely…) ‘football is coming home!’
New England captain Leah Williamson hopes to lead a new generation of emerging stars
The competition is great
However, let’s not kid ourselves. There are some excellent teams England will have to overcome if they are to be victorious on home soil.
In fact, this euro could be one of the most competitive we’ve ever seen, with nearly a third of the teams all legitimately clamoring to win the tournament.
As the host nation, England hopes to go all the way, of course, but the top-ranked team in the tournament is Sweden – which is second in the world behind the US.
The Netherlands are now the defending champions after beating Denmark on their own soil five years ago, while Germany can never be ruled out given their strong heritage.
However, it is Spain that attracts the most interest and they travel to England as favourites, as they have not lost any of their last 21 matches – won 18 of them – in a record dating back to early 2020 before the coronavirus outbreak.
Oh and they’ve only conceded two goals on that run in the last two years. Two!
Defending champion Netherlands is one of the many teams looking for the trophy
Can Germany get back on track?
Germany dominated the women’s game in Europe for a long time – to the extent that they had already won the competition six times before their quarter-finals in 2017, dating back to 1995.
That quarter-final elimination at the hands of eventual runner-up Denmark marked the country’s worst ever European Championship, winning the tournament a total of eight times.
So there’s a lot of interest to see how a German outfit in transition will fare this time around, especially after also making it through a quarter-final at the last World Cup three years ago.
The youthful prospects sit with the attacking Bayern Munich trio of Klara Buhl, Sydney Lohmann and Lea Schuller, who hope to see the team become a major force again.
Germany will hope that youthful stars like Lea Schuller (left) can guide them back to the top
If you’re new to the women’s game, there’s hardly a better time to start watching.
Interest in the game has increased after the Women’s Super League and Champions League, but football has made excellent strides in the women’s game over the past decade.
It’s fun and offers the kind of entertainment you crave in the summer at a big game with suspense, thrills and dramatic twists.
You only need to see part of the best goals of the last World Cup – a lot by European stars – to appreciate the admirable skill levels.
Lucy Bronze (left) scored a stunning try for England against Norway at the last World Cup
There is more than just England when it comes to Home Nation interest. Northern Ireland will also be attending the European Championship and making their debut at the major tournament.
There will be no pressure on Kenny Shiels’ team, who reached the tournament after beating Ukraine in a play-off and, intriguingly, they are in the England group as they want to cause a massive shock against the host nation.
Shiels caused controversy a few months ago when he suggested that female players are “more emotional than males” and lead to teams conceding more goals in quick succession.
However, his exploits in guiding Northern Ireland to the final seem to have kept him onside with his players for the time being… at least for now.
Much of the team is part-time and is captained by midfielder Marissa Callaghan, who has played much of her senior career for Cliftonville, where she has been since 2005.
The team brings additional threats to Rachel Furness, who is now a legend in the nation after England rejected her from trial as a teenager.
The midfielder has a record 38 goals in 81 caps and will play in the Women’s Super League next season after promotion from Liverpool.
Liverpool’s Rachel Furness becomes a key player for Northern Ireland in their tournament debut
All European stars in one place
Now is the time to take a look at the best talents the women’s game has to offer.
We’re not just talking about the WSL either, there’s also a lot of talent from abroad who, in addition to the best the English top flight has to offer, will line up and compete against the best the English top flight has to offer.
Aside from the players already mentioned, Caroline Graham Hansen has returned from treatment for a heart condition and the Barcelona star will be a welcome addition to the international set-up for Norway in the final.
Arsenal supporters may also want to check out Vivianne Miedema, with the attacker just as prolific at international level as he has been for the Gunners with 92 goals in just 108 games.
While another established star in Barcelona captain Alexia Putellas will try to blast Spain to victory this summer.
Young unknown stars can also use the euro to make their mark and put themselves on the radar for the coming season and beyond, so make sure you see them before they emerge as big names.
Arsenal star Vivianne Miedema becomes an important player for the Netherlands at the European Championship
We need a fix for the summer tournament
Let’s face it, no summer is complete without a major tournament and with the World Cup deciding to try and disrupt the Christmas buildup instead, it’s time to let the women shine.
There was a lot of interest in seeing England progress through the World Cup to the semi-finals in France three years ago and even if you don’t have any loyalty to the Lionesses just watching the games will draw you into one team. That’s what these tournaments do.
The last World Cup in France delivered the engagement and excitement that we have come to expect outside of the club game at this time of year.
So instead of counting down the days to the start of the domestic season, why not get carried away by a big game when it’s served? Even David Beckham was sucked into the World Cup in France.
English legend David Beckham cheered on the Lionesses at the last World Cup in France
Free to air
You also have no excuse not to watch it, especially in the UK as games are broadcast for free on BBC.
Every match in England and Northern Ireland will be shown on BBC One and almost all games will be shown on the channel, as well as on BBC Two.
Anyway, all 31 matches will still be shown on the BBC iPlayer and on the BBC Sport website.