After previewing Group C of this year’s European Championships, we turn our attention to the countries competing in Group D.
This guide features each country’s history, key players and a look at their opponents in the group stages.
Euro 2022 Group D: France
France is arguably one of the most unpredictable teams competing at the Euros. Many call Corinne Diacre’s team a favourite. But in recent years, a mix of offensive creativity and defensive instability has been characteristic for the talented Équipe de France. Here’s a look at their history, playing style and key players, and their opponents at the Euros.
The expectations were high for France at the 2019 World Cup in their own country. Too high, perhaps, given that some of the team’s anchors, like Camille Abily or Louisa Nécib had retired in the years before. An era was over, and the World Cup was meant to mark a new one for France. However, their journey ended with a quarter-final defeat against the USA. Naturally, questions arose and the main one was the role of coach Corinne Diacre in this defeat.
Diacre had chosen not to select Marie-Antoinette Katoto for the Euros. A questionable decision as Katoto had just won the Division 1 Golden Boot. Today, she is one of France’s key players and Diacre leaving her out would be unimaginable, but the doubts persist. For instance, Amandine Henry, who scored the fantastic opener for Lyon in the Champions-League final, wasn’t included in the squad.
Diacre justifies this with her choice to phase out older players to create a new generation. Yet, the defensive midfield is one of the positions France has the most problems with. Leaving one of the best in that role out is an astonishing decision, to say the least.
Without Henry’s ability to provide cover for the defense, France struggle to maintain stability and a good build-up play. Offensively, they boast talent with the lethal PSG trio Diani, Katoto and Baltimore. Those three rely on service from the midfield, though. Just one of France’s selected midfielders plays at a top club (Grace Geyoro), which highlights their problems. Lacking a top-class midfield that connects defense to attack, it will be vital for France that the defenders (M’Bock and Karchaoui especially) play their part in initiating attacks, and that the front three track back when turnovers occur.Embed from Getty Images
If they succeed in doing so, anything is possible for France. As shown in their recent games, the forwards of “Les Bleues” are quick, technically gifted and will exploit space the opponent leaves.
In the group stage, Diacre’s team will compete against Italy, Iceland and Belgium. Group D is a tough one where every team can take points from anyone. France should not underestimate the defensive prowess from Italy, Iceland’s physicality and Belgium’s talent.
France are a team that heavily relies on their attack to outscore the other team, which makes them a very entertaining side to watch. Defensive cohesiveness, attacks from the wings and good build-up play from the back will be key for their success this summer.
Euro 2022 Group D: Italy
After an impressive run, all the way into the quarterfinals in the 2019 Women’s World Cup, Italy are back for more glory, this time on the European stage.
Italian fans are eagerly anticipating this version of the Women’s Euro, after the men’s team failed to qualify for another big football meeting (Qatar 2022). Their past glories led by Carolina Morace in the 90s should be inspiring Milena Bertolini’s squad if they want to get their hands on silverware this time.
The “Azzurre” blissed to qualify although they failed to secure the unbeatable run in the qualifying group stages (lost only to Denmark). They scored an impressive 37 goals and conceded only five. Nevertheless, Bertolini’s team secured their place in the final stage of the Euro in the last group game against Israel. Italians had to win with at least two goals in their favour, but they got “carried away” and put 12 past the Israelis.
Bertolini picked approximately the same core of veteran players that guided Italy to the quarterfinals 3 years ago, adding a few young “guns” that are expected to “jump out” at the big stage. It is going to be a one-off chance for the latest “golden generation” of players like Girelli, Bonansea and Gama, to get a shot in the spotlight.
Italy, who tied their game against favourite Spain (1-1 on Italian soil), are expected to improve their gameplay if they want to be considered among the favourites of the tournament (as they should be). Their recent run of performances is rather poor and uninspired considering the level of their opponents and the Italian players’ abilities.
Their victory against Switzerland (who are also in the Euro) last April not only put them in the lead of their WC qualifying group but also verified that Italy are a strong squad and own the “how-to” in order to get the results when it matters the most.
Players to watchEmbed from Getty Images
Italy’s strength lies in attack, where Cristiana Girelli and Barbara Bonansea combine as an exquisite duo on the front line. The former was crowned Serie A’s best player in 2020 and 2021 and last season she was the top Italian scorer in the WCL with five goals. “If I were 15 years younger, I would dream to win the Ballon d’Or” the 32-years-old Juventus forward told the press.Embed from Getty Images
The latter, Bonansea, was part of the FIFA FIFPro Women’s World11 team for both 2020 and 2021. She was also added to the Italian Football Hall of Fame last year. Her scoring awareness, versatility and flair in the attack are considered unique on the world’s football stage. Her virtues have been pointed out by Bertolini who will expect the 31-years-old attacker to guide her team to stardom.
Italy have dealt with doubt over the past tournaments, merely due to their lack of continuity in their runs. In Group D they will face favourites France. But they will face also the dangerous Devils from Belgium and the always tough team from Iceland. Although predictions are hard to be made, Italy would be able to get out of the group stage in style. And then, why not, set their sights on the cup. The 56-years-old manager has managed to fulfil every goal she has set in her career with the national team. So what could possibly stop her now from climbing the “Mount Everest” of the Euros first?
Euro 2022 Group D: Belgium
By Connie Lea
Belgium will be competing at the UEFA Women’s European Championships this summer for only the second time in their history.
They first qualified for the tournament held in 2017 after finishing runners-up to England in Group 7.
Unfortunately for the debutants they were unable to reach beyond the group stages in the Netherlands. This happened after only securing one win out of a possible three.
Tine De Caigny is one of Belgium’s driving forces and will also play a huge role within the squad in Euro 2022. Belgium midfielder De Caigny was top-scorer in the euro qualifying rounds with 12 goals.
The 24-year old currently playing for Hoffenheim in the Frauen Bundesliga has scored 6 goals & provided 4 assists this season, which makes her one of the most dangerous midfielders in the German topflight. This, also makes her our player to watch in the Belgian side alongside Tessa Wullaert.Embed from Getty Images
The Red Flames finished in pole position in their Euro 2022 qualifying group. Ives Serneels and his side saw off the challenges of Romania, Croatia and Lithuania respectively. Following the conclusion of the draw, Belgium have been placed in Group D. This group is with France, Italy and Iceland at the 2022 European Championships this summer.
Their opening match of the group will take place at five-o-clock in the evening against Iceland, July 10th at Manchester City’s Academy Stadium. This match is broadcasted live on BBC Two. A few days later the Belgians head to Rotherham’s New York Stadium in which they will come up against a French side. This match will take place on July 14th, with a 8pm kick-off. Then finally on July 18th to wrap up their group stage games, Belgium return to the Academy Stadium to face Italy.
This will be primarily a championship for Belgium to annoy and challenge, but they also stand a good chance of progressing to the next round if everything works out.
Euro 2022 Group D: Iceland
By Kara Cutshaw
Iceland will be entering into their fourth straight Women’s Euros final tournament with the passion to show that this team is one to watch.
In recent years, Iceland has begun to show that their FIFA ranking, 17, does not matter; it is the heart of the team that drives success. The last five fixtures leading to this tournament gave the team some diversity in the level and style of play.
In February, Iceland headed to the SheBelieves Cup hosted by the USWNT where they landed the prize of runner-up. Dominating two of the three teams represented, this squad has the talent to keep up with the best teams in the world.
The remaining two matches were part of the FIFA World Cup qualifying. Taking down Belarus and Czech Republic for the second time this year, their eyes are laser fixed on what is at stake. Iceland has an international friendly against Poland set for June 29th. This will be their last fixture before heading to England.
4-3-3 formation makes it hard to break down their attack. The fluidity of natural talent and dangerous set pieces have made this formation a go for Iceland. Some players that make this formation dangerous would be Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir, Gunny Jónsdóttir, Karólína Lea Vilhjálmsdóttir, and Sveindis Jónsdóttir.
Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir recently signed with Juventus after her recent return from maternity leave. In 2018 and 2020, she became the Icelandic Spokesperson of the Year — making her the first woman to do so. On the pitch, her tactical prowess makes her a lethal threat in the midfield. A player hard to mark but one that defenders should keep their eyes on.Embed from Getty Images
Gunny Jónsdóttir currently plays for the Orlando Pride. A name familiar stateside, Jónsdóttir has three goals and an assist for her country this year. She had tacked on a goal in the NWSL season. This powerful and dominating presence on the pitch creates holes in the defensive structure. This makes Jónsdóttir a crafty player to have on one’s team.
Karólína Lea Vilhjálmsdóttir at the age of 20 has four goals and an assist this year. Don’t let the age fool you, she currently plays for Bayern Munich and has snagged two goals for the club since extending her contract in early February. Her focus and determination have already done her well for club and country; setting her up for many years of continual training and caps.
Sveindis Jónsdóttir is the attacking force that has been making noise and causing chaos for teams’ back line. Sveindis got her first international call-up two years ago. Within eight minutes into her debut match, this 19-year-old showed everyone why she is a key component in Iceland’s attack by capturing her first goal. It did not take long for Sveindis to sign with European giant Wolfsburg, the club she currently plays for.
These four players will be ones to watch as Iceland makes its way through the group stages and into the knockout rounds of the tournament.
Iceland is in Group D along with Belgium, France, and Italy. The task is not easy, as tough talent fills each of the three teams.
Iceland has had its fair share of meetings with these teams. The series between Iceland and France has left the French victorious 8 times. Iceland drew and defeated France one time in this match series. The competition with Belgium is relatively new, placing Iceland with a draw and a defeat. Lastly, the Italians have split the difference twice, snagged a win and loss.
The action begins July 10 with Belgium in Manchester, July 14 against Italy in Manchester, and the final group stage match against France in Rotherham on July 18.
Rather it is by the Viking Clap or by their force on the pitch, Iceland will be ready to take England by storm as they battle for their hands on the trophy.