August 12, 2022

Around 450,000 tickets have already been sold for the 16-team tournament – including 73,200 for England’s opener against Austria at Old Trafford and 87,200 for the Wembley final – far exceeding the previous record of 240,000 established in the Netherlands four years ago.

The hype around the tournament follows a season that saw many attendance records broken across the continent.

In Spain, Barcelona set a new world attendance record for a women’s game as 91,648 people packed a sold-out Camp Nou for the first leg of their Champions League semi-final against Wolfsburg, breaking a record that existed since the 1999 Women’s World Cup final.

Records were also broken in France, where 43,254 supporters turned up at the Parc des Princes to watch Paris Saint-Germain’s Champions League semi-final against Lyon, while England also saw their record club attendance battered as 49,094 saw Chelsea beat Manchester City in the FA Cup. final at Wembley.

The excitement for the start of Euro 2022 is also palpable in Sweden, where a record 33,218 people showed up to watch the national team beat Brazil in their final warm-up match.

This season has proven beyond doubt that there is a huge appetite for women’s football across Europe.

For this reason, UEFA’s decision to use stadiums, such as Manchester City Academy Stadium and Leigh Sports Village, which some players and fans consider too small for such a major tournament, has caused some consternation.

LILY: Northern Ireland footballers ready to seize their moment

Euro 2022 favorites

England

Hosts England enter Euro 2022 with a realistic chance of lifting the first major trophy in national team history.

Home advantage in front of a record England crowd will no doubt play its part, but the side have been hugely impressive under head coach Sarina Wiegman since her appointment in September 2021.

England remain unbeaten under the Dutchman, who guided the Netherlands to Championship glory four years ago. Under Wiegman, England scored a remarkable 84 goals, including a record 20-0 win over Latvia, and conceded just three.

The Lionesses continued their impressive run to the tournament with a gripping 5-1 victory over Wiegman’s former side, before beating Switzerland 4-0.

A team with the talents of striker Lauren Hemp, striker Ellen White and defender Lucy Bronze can compete with the best, but the overriding question is whether this group can handle the weight of expectation.

The national team has reached the semi-finals of each of the last three major tournaments, but has not reached the final each time.

This iteration of the squad is arguably the most talented of them all and, after the men’s side reached the Euro 2020 final last year, England fans are understandably optimistic about seeing their national team in the final. at Wembley for the second summer in a row.

Jill Scott celebrates after scoring England's fourth goal in their win over Switzerland.

Spain

While the bookmakers see Spain as the big favorites in the tournament, it is perhaps more accurate to consider this team as the favorite among the dark horses.

The side netted in an impressive 7-0 rout of slightly under-strength Australia in their penultimate pre-tournament warm-up before drawing 1-1 with Italy on Friday .

In Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas, Spain have arguably the most gifted player in the world and someone who is capable of single-handedly winning a match with a moment of individual genius.

Spain’s rise to the international stage has coincided with Barcelona becoming a domestic and European powerhouse over the past two seasons, and no less than nine Barcelona players have made the final 23-man squad by Jorge Vilda.

This team can sometimes struggle to break through the defenses of stronger or more stubborn teams and they will be further hampered by the absence of record goalscorer Jennifer Hermoso, who suffered a knee ligament injury earlier this month.

There has also been considerable surprise amongst Spanish national team fans with the omission of Real Sociedad duo Amaiur Sarriegi and Nerea Eizagirre, who scored a combined 33 goals in the Primera last season, with Sarriegi also having scored 11 goals in five World Cup qualifiers.

Despite Spain’s shortcomings, few teams will relish the prospect of facing Vilda’s side.

Players to watch

Alexia Putellas

Spanish superstar Putellas is arguably the name to watch at the Euros this summer.

The 28-year-old, 2021 Ballon d’Or winner, led Barcelona to a winning season in Spain as the side secured the domestic treble and narrowly missed winning a second straight Champions League title , although she finished as the competition’s top scorer that season.

Both a clinical goalscorer and a world-class creator, Putellas is the record holder for appearances for the Spanish women’s national team and on Friday against Italy became the first woman to reach a century of caps.

The midfielder is one of many technically gifted players in this Spanish side and Putellas will be the orchestrator that will allow Aitana Bonmatí and Athenea del Castillo to thrive in the future.

Alexia Putellas celebrates after scoring the equalizer against Italy.

Ada Hegerberg

Opposition defenders, beware: Ada Hegerberg is back. The 26-year-old only returned to the Norway national team in April after a five-year absence.

After finishing runners-up at Euro 2013, Norway entered the tournament in the Netherlands five years ago with high hopes.

However, the team finished bottom of their group and Hegerberg subsequently left the national team setup, saying her experiences with the team had left her “mentally broken” and frustrated with the way women’s football was considered in Norway.

Hegerberg continued to excel at club level for Lyon and her form saw her crowned the winner of the inaugural Women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018.

But in January 2020, Hegerberg ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament, which sidelined her for almost two years.

When she returned in October 2021, she got off to a flying start and helped Lyon reclaim the French league title they lost to Paris Saint-Germain the previous season. She also scored a goal and an assist in the Champions League final to reclaim the Barcelona crown.

One of the deadliest goalscorers in women’s football – her prowess in front of goal epitomized by a hat-trick in her first match against Norway after five years – Hegerberg will be looking to make up for lost time on the international stage.

Ada Hegerberg scored on her return to the Norway national team.

Vivianne Miedema

Over the past few years, Vivianne Miedema has become one of the most prolific and feared strikers in world football.

Still just 25, the Arsenal star has an impressive 92 goals in 109 appearances for the Netherlands and is the all-time top scorer in a Dutch national team shirt, women’s or men’s.

Her exploits for Arsenal in the Women’s Super League – she is now the league’s all-time leading goalscorer – recently landed her a new contract that would make her the highest-paid women’s player in England.

Miedema finished second in the Golden Boot race at Euro 2017 – scoring four goals, including two in the final – as the Dutch won their first major international trophy. It seems more than likely that she will be among the top scorers again this time around.

Vivianne Miedema would now be the highest paid player in England.

Lauren Hemp

Few players in Europe will knock you out of your seat like Lauren Hemp.

A tricky winger with blistering pace, magical close control and an eye for goal, the 21-year-old ticks perhaps every box imaginable for an attacking player.

Hemp scored 20 goals and 10 assists in 36 games for Manchester City last season before being named PFA Young Player of the Year for a record fourth time.

Such has been her form both domestically and internationally, Hemp took the conversation from being England’s best young player to being England’s best player, period.

Her goal against Chelsea in the FA Cup final – which City ultimately lost – showcased all of her ability, as she dug inside on her weaker right foot and curled the ball in the far corner.

As this tournament approaches, few players will give opposing defenders nightmares like Hemp.

Lauren Hemp is one of the most exciting players at Euro 2022.

How to watch

In the UK, all Euro 2022 matches will be shown on the BBC, the national broadcaster, while ESPN and TUDN will show the tournament in the US.

For the full list of official UEFA global broadcasters, click the link here.