Tuesday 23 November 2021, 06:00

Patterns emerge as European qualifying reaches midway point

  • Forty-six European qualifying matches in November

  • Marquee match-ups throughout the groups

  • Last round of qualifiers before February 2022

We are almost halfway through the group stage of European qualifying for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™, and patterns are beginning to emerge at the top of the various groups. FIFA.com looks ahead to the matches to be played between 25-30 November.

Group standings

Group A: Sweden (9 points), Finland (6), Slovakia, Republic of Ireland (both on 3), Georgia (0)

Group B: Spain, Scotland (both on 9), Ukraine, Hungary (both on 3), Faroe Islands (0)

Group C: Netherlands (10), Iceland (6), Czech Republic (4), Belarus (3), Cyprus (0)

Group D: England (12), Austria (10), Northern Ireland (7), Luxemburg, North Macedonia (both on 3), Latvia (0)

Group E: Denmark, Russia (both on 12), Montenegro (6), Malta (4) Bosnia and Herzegovina (1), Azerbaijan (0)

Group F: Norway (10), Poland (8), Belgium (7) Albania, Kosovo (both on 4) Armenia (0)

Group G: Switzerland, Italy (both on 12), Romania (6), Moldova, Lithuania, Croatia (all on 0)

Group H: Germany (12), Portugal (10), Turkey (4), Serbia (3), Israel, Bulgaria (both on 0)

Group I: France (12), Wales (10), Slovenia (7), Greece (6), Estonia, Kazakhstan (both on 0)

Games in focus

Group A: Sweden – Finland, 25 November 2021

Finland’s World Cup qualifying hopes took a real hit when they suffered a defeat at home to Republic of Ireland in October. To keep in touch with Sweden, who have won all three of their matches to date and sit atop Group A, Anna Signeul’s team need to get back to winning ways. "It’s still our goal to make it through to the World Cup, even if the loss in the last game has made things more difficult for us," the Swedish-born coach said. The last time the two countries met was in 2015, when the Helmarit went down 3-0 in Tammela Eerikkila. "In the opening match at the Olympics against USA, Sweden were the best team that I had seen in a good number of years," Signeul added. This local derby promises to be a mouth-watering clash. Group B: Spain – Scotland, 30 November 2021

Spain and Scotland currently share first place with nine points apiece, while Ukraine are on three points with a game in hand. The group leaders will now face off, with a chance for one of them to pull clear. "With regard to Scotland, we’ve analysed them in depth," said Spain coach Jorge Vilda, who will be facing Faroe Islands first up during this set of games. "We know their coach as well, Pedro Martinez Losa. You can tell the work that he’s put in and his imprint on the team. You can see hints of Spanish football with short passes and options, and good possession of the ball, and they’re doing that very effectively. They’re a team that goes on the front foot and puts the pressure on."

Group D: England – Austria, 27 November 2021 England have won all of their matches to date, but they have yet to face opposition as tough as Austria in their quest for a berth at Australia & New Zealand 2023. The away team currently sit second in Group D and have also qualified for next year's UEFA EURO. Forward Ellen White will be hoping to win her 100th cap for England in this clash, and after scoring five goals in the last four qualifiers, she is just two away from breaking Kelly Smith’s record of 46.

Group E: Denmark – Russia, 30 November 2021 Denmark and Russia have each got off to a flying start in qualifying, winning all of their first four matches and thus sharing top spot in the group with 12 points. The Danes are ahead on goal difference (with 28 goals for, and one against), and they travel first to Bosnia and Herzegovina before taking on Russia at the Viborg Stadium. "We’ve had an almost-perfect start to World Cup qualifying, but we still have a long road ahead of us,” said Denmark coach Lars Sondergaard. “The trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina will be a challenge that we can’t afford to take lightly, while the match at home to Russia is crucial, as they are our main rivals for first place and direct qualification for the World Cup.”

Group G: Italy – Switzerland, 26 November 2021 On 15 November 2021, Switzerland defeated Bulgaria 4-0 to top their group ahead of Italy and qualify for the World Cup for the 12th time in their history. We are of course talking about their men’s team, but the women are not far behind and are looking to follow in their footsteps. And next up for them? None other than Italy, of course, for what they hope is a good omen. The two teams are neck-and-neck at the moment with 12 points and a goal difference of +16. "The match against Italy will be a high-tempo affair,” said coach Nils Nielsen. “They’ve got a lot of quality. I think that if we can keep our mind on the job throughout the match, we’ll be able to bring home a positive result."