With EURO 2022 about to get underway, it’s time to make some predictions. Having watched a good amount of all 16 teams, I feel reasonably confident of how they will play and roughly where their strengths and weaknesses are. Famous last words, perhaps…
Nonetheless, here are my thoughts on the tournament’s main contenders.
Strengths: The hosts will benefit from strong support and a coach in Sarina Wiegman who has been there and got the t-shirt, winning EURO 2017 with the Netherlands. She has improved the team’s organization, particularly in pressing and attacking set pieces. With Alex Greenwood’s delivery, Millie Bright’s aerial threat and some interesting routines, England could score a few from dead-ball situations. From open play, Lauren Hemp is fast developing into one of the best wingers in the game, and this tournament could be the ideal stage for her talent.
Weaknesses: Leah Williamson is captain, but it remains unclear whether she starts in defense or midfield. There have been issues with the back line in recent friendlies, which may be related to this dilemma. England have looked too easy to open up at times, and goalkeeper Mary Earps is a question mark. A sound shot-stopper, she doesn’t dominate on high balls and her passing can falter under pressure.
Key player: Lauren Hemp. An electric left-winger with great speed and crossing, she is the 1-v-1 outlet England relies upon to break down stubborn defenses.
My prediction: Semifinals. England will top Group A and should squeeze through a tight quarterfinal, roared on by a fervent home support. That energy can only carry them so far, though. I struggle to see them controlling the tempo against top contenders at the business end of the competition.
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