Lionesses head to Old Trafford for historic Women’s Euro Opener


Sarina Wiegman’s England side kickstart their home tournament with a trip to the theatre of dreams to take on Irene Fuhrmann’s Austria.

After all the build up, the Women’s Euros will finally get underway with a game putting the hosts against the shock 2017 semi-finalists.

Like Austria, England also bowed out at the Semi-Finals in 2017, but the expectation will be placed far more intensely on the Lionesses to go one step further and reach the coveted final.

Austria, meanwhile, were debutants not just at the Euros but at major tournaments as a whole, and as such appearing at just their second such event will have the pressure off, despite drastic improvement in ranking in the successive five years.

It is also worth noting that this tournament was postponed by a year to accommodate the postponed Men’s Euros, but thankfully now the stage is very much that of the best female players in Europe.

England are coming into this tournament on good form, without defeat in their last 14 internationals, spanning over a year. However, there are some unknowns headed into this competition for the Lionesses, such as the absence of the ever present Steph Houghton and the inclusion of Fran Kirby.

Houghton as a figure of authority and experience will likely be missed, but the likes of Manchester City team mate Alex Greenwood and Chelsea’s Millie Bright have plenty of experience of their own to build upon.

The Lionesses’ opponents at Old Trafford will boast three players from the WSL, all based in North London. Austria and Arsenal No.1 shot stopper Manuela Zinsberger, right-back Laura Wienroither and Austria’s captain, Viktoria Schnaderbeck. All of whom  play under Jonas Eidevall at Arsenal, with the latter spending the end of last season on loan to North London rivals, Tottenham.

Outside of those names perhaps more recognisable to the home crowd, all but two of the Austrian squad play their trade in either the Austrian or German Bundesliga’s.

Austria qualified for the tournament after finishing second only to France, and progressing as the third and final best 2nd place outfit.

Fuhrmann’s side will strive to make themselves difficult to beat, with only good sides getting the better of them in recent times (Previous five losses v France, Sweden, Italy, England and Denmark). As such one can perhaps speculate that Austria will be seeking a clean sheet, with a draw being more than satisfactory but a hit and run win being the perfect start to the Euros.

These two sides will no doubt be familiar with each other, as they are currently participating in the same World Cup Qualification group, with the Austrian’s so far the only side to reduce England to less than four goals in a 68 goal campaign so far. England were made to work for a hard-earned 1-0 win over Austria at the Stadium of Light back in November of 2021.

England’s triumph in the Arnold Clark Cup showed that the Lionesses can be effective in a round-robin format, and the recent friendly wins over Belgium, Netherlands and Switzerland displayed the danger England can pose to tournament level opponents (England 3-0 Belgium, England 5-1 Netherlands, Switzerland 0-4 England)

Anything less than a victory will automatically put pressure on England, with a game against tournament dark horses Norway still to come. Points for Austria would put them in an excellent position to potentially get out of the group and reach the Quarter-Finals for the second successive tournament.

The eyes of Europe, and indeed the world of football will be on Old Trafford for this encounter, with a sizeable crowd expected for the first women’s major tournament game in England since 2005, at which England failed to make it out of their Euro group.

This game will hopefully be the start of a record breaking and successful tournament that paints the growing game of women’s football in the light it deserves, with the potential to once again inspire a generation of women not just for football, but for sport as a whole.

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