Tuesday 24 November 2020, 17:18

Moment of truth arrives for EURO hopefuls

  • Five nations have qualified to join hosts England at UEFA Women’s EURO 2022

  • A host of teams are fighting it out for the remaining places

  • Next two matchdays feature some crucial games

Six teams have already made sure of their places at the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022, but with ten slots still unclaimed there is much left to play for in the qualifying competition. The nine group winners all qualify along with the three best runners-up, while the six remaining runners-up go into the play-offs to decide the last three qualifiers.

Republic of Ireland need a win against eight-time continental champions Germany if they are to make sure of second place in their section, while Poland need a win of their own against Spain. Elsewhere, Scotland are looking to bounce back from a 1-0 defeat in Finland, and France and Austria are set to fight it out for top spot in their group.

Norway, Denmark, Sweden, holders Netherlands and Germany have already joined hosts England in the 2022 tournament with ten places left to fill.

The big games

[[flag-sco-s]] Scotland-Finland [[flag-fin-s]]

1 December, Easter Road (Edinburgh)

After kicking off their campaign with three straight wins, Scotland then lost to a Finland side coached by their former boss Anna Signeul, who had previously been in charge of them for 12 and a half years. That win took the Finns to the top of Group E, a position they are intent on defending when the two sides meet again next Tuesday. The Scots will close to within a point of their Nordic rivals if they can beat Portugal on Friday.

“It wasn’t great for me when we were drawn into the same group as Scotland, though I don’t think it’s affected them or Finland,” Signeul told FIFA.com. “On a personal level, it’s hard for me to play against them, but I’m a professional coach and I have to put my emotions to one side in a situation like this. My heart and my passion are with Finland 100 per cent. I love my job and I’m really happy working with my players. They’re a fantastic group.”

[] Slovakia-Iceland []

26 November, National Training Centre (Senec)

Sweden have already made sure of first place in Group F. Iceland, who went out in the group phase at Women’s EURO 2017, will clinch second if they draw in Slovakia.

“Iceland are 19th in the FIFA World Rankings and we’re 47th,” said Slovakia coach, Peter Kopun, on his association’s website.

“I wonder what’s going to happen on Thursday. I know football’s always throwing up surprises but there’s a pretty big difference in quality, on paper at least. Nevertheless, I’m delighted that the fates have conspired to give us a challenge like this at a time like this.”

Opposite number Jon Thor Hauksson has been forced to make two changes for the Slovakia trip and for next week’s visit to Hungary, with Dagny Brynjarsdottir and Rakel Honnudottir coming in for the unavailable Karolina Lea Vilhjalmsdottir and Holmfridur Magnusdottir.

[[flag-esp-s]] Spain-Poland [[flag-pol-s]]

1 December, Pabellón de la Ciudad del Fútbol 1 (Madrid)

There is still everything to play for in a very evenly balanced Group D, where Spain, Poland and Czech Republic are all vying for top spot. Spain are best placed to win the section. Though a point behind the Poles in second, they have two games in hand on the leaders and will make sure of their place in the finals if they win next Tuesday’s meeting between the two sides.

A draw would even be good enough, if they defeat Moldova at home on Friday. With the Czechs hot on their heels, the Poles have to take something from the game. If Karel Rada’s side collect more points from their match against Moldova than Poland do against Spain, then they will finish second.

Other matches

Switzerland visit Belgium next Tuesday with the leadership of Group H at stake. The Swiss are out front with 19 points, one ahead of the Belgians. There is a similar situation in Group G, where France and Austria, who are tied on 16 points, will fight it out for top spot in Guingamp on Friday. On the final matchday in the section next Tuesday, the Austrians, who sensationally reached the last four at EURO 2017, entertain Serbia, while the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup™ hosts entertain Kazakhstan.

Northern Ireland will go into the play-offs if they can beat Belarus and Faroe Islands in their last two games in Group C. If they fail to do so, Wales will take second place if they can see off Belarus. And in Group I, Germany, who are already through to the finals, take on Greece in Ingolstadt and Republic of Ireland in Dublin in their last two games.

The words

“Ireland have to take points from us. It’s a vital game for them and their hopes of going to the EUROs depend on it. In the first match, we stopped Ireland from playing their game thanks to our quality, especially in the first half. I know their coach and their team, though, and they’ll want to do a lot better this time around. They’re at home and I’m sure they’ll push us a lot harder. In any case, our objective is clear: we want to win all our games.” Germany coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg