This article was worked on by multiple members of the WSX team, and we wanted to give them each a quick shout-out for their hard work. Mykala Ranger wrote the Netherlands preview, Jess Simpson wrote the Portugal preview, Tone Veastad Rasmussen wrote the Sweden preview, and Savannah Miscik wrote the Switzerland preview!
The defending champions of the UEFA Women’s Euros, the Netherlands are seeking to establish a lasting impression in the competition and lift the trophy for the second time in this 2022 season. After coming back from behind against Denmark in 2017 final, the Netherlands fought and delivered a crushing 4-2 performance to claim the title. At the forefront of the Netherlands' victory in 2017 was their leading goalscorer, Vivianne Miedema, however, this season Miedema is bolstered by veteran talents and newcomers alike. With the return of experienced star Danielle van de Donk, vibrant forward Lineth Beerensteyn, crafty midfielder Jackie Groenen, and recent debutante Damaris Egurrola, the Netherlands will aim to be the team to beat this season. The Netherlands is poised to showcase a different look in the 2022 UEFA Women’s Euro with the hope to replicate the same success as the previous season.
Players to Watch:
No stranger to the pressure of heated competitions, Netherlands star attacking midfielder Danielle van de Donk will be a key piece upon her return from injury this season. Having ruptured her Achilles in November of 2021 on international duty, whether or not Van de Donk would be a part of the Netherlands Euro squad was a major question heading into the competition. In a heartfelt and emotional three-part documentary, van de Donk chronicled her journey from surgery all the way through to her first game back with her club Olympique Lyonnais. Prior to her injury, van de Donk contributed to Olympique Lyonnais’ success throughout the UEFA Women’s Champions League having scored three goals in nine appearances. van de Donk went on to lift the 2021-2022 UEFA Women’s Champions League title with Olympique Lyonnais and hopes to bring that champion mentality to her home country this season.
A dynamic player with the work rate to cover ground as well as the intelligence and precision to score dazzling goals, Lineth Beerensteyn will be a force for the Dutch. Beerensteyn’s skills have long been on display with her former club F.C. Bayern Munich. With a display of spatial awareness and precision, Beerensteyn scored a diving header for her former club in the group stage of the Champions League in 2021. For the Netherlands, this season Beerensteyn came up big against Brazil in the Tournoi de France. Opening the scoring in the 62nd minute, Beerensteyn gestured to her teammates to communicate that she was in open space. Upon receiving the ball, Beerensteyn continued her run and volleyed the ball in a spectacular fashion into the upper left corner of the net beyond the keeper. That moment of brilliance proved to be crucial for the Netherlands as they later went on to become the runner-up of the Tournoi de France. Beerensteyn again became the star for the Netherlands in the Tournoi de France final in which she scored the only goal for her country. The Netherlands will look to Beerensteyn to spur the attack and score crucial goals for the victory they are seeking in the 2022 UEFA Women’s Euro.
A wizard with the ball at her feet, a savvy playmaker, and a smooth dribbler, Jackie Groenen will be another big name for the Netherlands this season. Eliminating players on the dribble and picking out the perfect pass is a big component of Groenen’s skill set. Groenen is one of the many centers of creation both for her WSL club Manchester United and for her home country the Netherlands. Contributing both an offensive and defensive presence, Groenen operates like a well-rounded true midfielder. Groenen has the physicality to hold off her opponents and maintain possession of the ball or make clean tackles in an attempt to hold off strikers. Where Groenen really shines is in the heart of the game, pulling the strings and laying off impeccably weighted balls to her teammates that result in opportunities to score. Having been a part of the 2017 champion squad, Groenen aims to help her team secure a second victory and potentially break into the Team of the Tournament as she did in 2017.
The most recent addition to the Netherlands 2022 UEFA Women’s Euro squad is center defensive midfielder Damaris Egurrola. Egurrola was in a unique position in being eligible to represent her birth country the United States, her mother’s home country the Netherlands, or her father’s home country Spain. Initially, Egurrola had opted to represent the Spanish Women’s National Team in 2019. After much speculation, Egurrola filed to switch federations and represent the Netherlands in March of 2022. Following the switch, Egurrola debuted for the Netherlands in April 2022 and scored a brace in her first appearance. Contrary to her debut performance, Egurrola herself has declared that scoring goals will not be her primary contribution to this team. A tried and true center midfielder, Egurrola will ideally be the anchor of stability for the Netherlands to lean on and maintain possession. For her club Olympique Lyonnais, Egurrola played the center midfield position and thrived. Egurrola joins her Dutch teammate Danielle van de Donk in the 2021-2022 UEFA Women’s Champions League-winning squad. With big dreams of translating her success from her club to her new home team, Egurrola will aim for another European title this season.
A late inclusion to the tournament, Portugal’s place at the Euros was only confirmed on May 2, following the suspension of Russia. After finishing second in their qualifying group, behind Finland after a late defeat in Helsinki, Portugal lost 1-0 to Russia in the playoff matches. Now back in the competition, Portugal wants to show the rest of the world how much they have improved. “Eight years ago we were in 49th place in Fifa rankings,” says head coach Francisco Neto, “ now we are 29th – but that’s not where we want to stay.” Portugal are in a tough group, going up against reigning champions The Netherlands, as well as Switzerland and Sweden. But, there is a strong backbone to this team, with a lot of players being together for a long time, which could be this team's biggest strength.
Players to Watch
27-year-old striker Jéssica Silva has played in five different countries over her career, including France, Sweden, Spain, and the United States. She currently plays her domestic football at Benfica, where she has scored 5 goals in 12 games. For her country, Silva has made 87 appearances since her first call-up in 2011. Silva was called up to the 23-person squad for the 2017 European Championship, but in the last training session, before the tournament started, she picked up an injury and missed out on the competition. She stepped in as a pundit for the tournament, not able to hide her emotion when Portugal scored their first-ever goal in the tournament. Hopefully, Silva will bring that same passion into this year's competition, and at 27, this could be the perfect age for her to show the world her talent. “I feel like I don’t play football just for myself,” Silva says. “It’s my profession, but there are girls and even kids who see me as a reference, and that gives me enormous energy and motivation to do what I like.”
Another player to keep an eye on is defensive stalwart, Carole Costa. Currently playing at Benfica, Costa started her national team career in 2010, aged 20, and has gone on to make over 130 appearances for her country. A quiet player, Costa has become one of the pillars of this team, and her time playing abroad in Germany, will bring a level of experience to the team that will help her to lead the other players to a better result than that of the 2017 tournament.
At 19 years old, young superstar Kika Nazareth is a player that definitely needs to be watched in this tournament. The first female football star to be represented by agent Jorde Mendes, Nazareth is arguably one of the most promising female talents ever out of Portugal. Having already won two titles with Portuguese club Benfica, she is a wonderfully skilled and versatile player. She made her national team debut at the age of 17 and has made 16 appearances since then, and while she isn’t a mainstay on the roster, she could definitely light up Portugal’s tournament this year.
This summer the runner-ups from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are still looking for their first-ever major international trophy. Having made several semifinals without still having any hardware will be a motivation for a mixed Sweden squad consisting of new players and an experienced core group of players from the Olympics. Considering they are the highest-ranked team going into the Euros there will be expectations for them to go far and will have to live with being favorites to win. Peter Gerhardsson’s team is expected to advance from their group which consists of reigning champions the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Portugal who replaced suspended Russia.
In terms of experience, this team is not lacking any. Caroline Seger, the captain since 2016, is Europe's most capped player and has played 230 games for her country and is a very important player. Lindahl, the starting goalkeeper has over 180 caps, and the rest of the defense led by Chelsea captain, Magdalena Eriksson, are also very experienced. Going forward they have Stina Blackstenius and Kosovare Asllani both players coming off a great club season. I think ultimately the squad depth that Sweden can provide will be a deciding factor in how well they are going to do.
Players to watch:
19-year-old Hanna Bennison is by many considered one of the best young players in the world right now. Bennison is the playmaker and director of the midfield, finding players in spaces or charging forward by herself. Earning a lot of praise from her former teammates at Rosengård FC for her determination and will to better herself to help the team. In 2021 she went to Everton in the WSL and continues to improve her game.
Fridolina Rolfö is coming off of one of the best club seasons in her entire career, making the UWCL final with Barcelona. At Barcelona, Rolfö is mostly used as a fullback and has excelled in that role but Gerhardsson likes to use her on top. She has 22 goals in 65 games for Sweden and is to go deep and collect the ball and start the attack if necessary. She is fun to watch and has the endurance, and an incredibly hard shot.
Filippa Angeldal had her breakthrough at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics when Sweden were the runner ups. She was the only player to start all games. Getting international attention in her last season at BK Häcken and moving on to Manchester City and the WSL. The 24-year-old is able to direct things from the central midfield or act as an anchor in a more defensive role. A young and exciting midfielder eager to show off what she can do and what her team can achieve.
Switzerland is certainly considered an underdog in the Euros. Led by head coach Nils Nielsen, they have never made it out of the group stages, yet they have a wealth of experience. Players such as captain Lia Wälti of Arsenal, Ana-Maria Crnogorčević of Barcelona, and Ramona Bachmann of Paris Saint-Germain are proven stars for club and country alike.
After winning on penalty kicks against the Czech Republic in April 2021 to advance to the Euros, Wälti remarked, “I am tired like a dog but we have fought for each other. I don’t give a shit how we won, we are going to the Euros.” This quote shows the mentality of the Swiss team. It may not be pretty, but their grittiness could propel them to escape the group stages of this tournament.
Player to Watch
A forward with SC Freiburg in the Frauen-Bundesliga, Svenja Fölmli is an excellent dribbler and finisher. She tends to score goals by running at defenders and shooting rather than on set pieces. In 16 caps with Switzerland, she scored four goals. That’s 25 percent of international games she’s played in. Even though Switzerland hasn’t won a game since November 2021, Fölmli may be a key piece of breaking that curse.