The two teams belt out their national anthems, with noisy accompaniment from those in the Sheffield stands. And now it is time for football!
The teams emerge from the tunnel to a rousing reception from the colourful and noisy crowd at Bramall Lane. It’s a glorious night for football. The Netherlands fans were giving it plenty on the march up to the ground. Have a look at this.
As you can see from the lead image on the report, the Netherlands’ men’s team manager, Louis van Gaal, is in Sheffield to support his nation. The last time he was at Bramall Lane was January 2016, when Wayne Rooney gave his Manchester United side a 1-0 win in the third round of the FA Cup. He’ll be hoping to leave the stadium as happy as he was back then.
The early game in Group C between Portugal and Switzerland ended 2-2 after a stirring second-half comeback from the Portuguese, who should have won it. A draw suits the two big-hitters in this game. Here’s Will Unwin’s report from Leigh.
Two goals in the opening five minutes, coupled with the beautiful weather in Leigh, sent Switzerland on holiday. They thought the game was over but Portugal dominated the match to earn a deserved draw in their Euro 2022 opener.
The Sweden manager Peter Gerhardsson speaks. He doesn’t have as much to say as Mark Parsons did.
They are one the best teams. It’s going to be a tough game. The first game you don’t know too much what will happen. It’s a special game because they won the tournament [in 2017].
Netherlands have an Englishman as manager. Mark Parsons made his name in the USA with NWSL side Portland Thorns. He’s been in the job just over a year. Here’s what he had to say before the match:
We’re playing a great opponent. Defending will be important but we have have special players who have the qualities to hurt Sweden. We finally have everyone healthy and available after nine months when we didn’t. These players, this team, when the tournament comes around they grow two feet taller. We will show our strengths and impose our identity on this game. We’re happy everyone is in the place they’re in. There will be no bigger physical test than Sweden. They are high energy. The less transition we see it will suit us, the more transition will suit them.
You may see quite a few empty seats in the top tier at Bramall Lane this evening and there’s a feeling that Uefa could have done more to fill them:
Here’s someone who will likely have a say in how this match goes tonight:
So Stina Blackstenius is deemed not fit enough to start for Sweden, but she’s not a bad option to bring on from the bench is she? As for the Netherlands, it is as you would expect with the Roord, Miedema and Martens trident in attack. What a trio, eh?
Netherlands (4-3-3): Van Veenendaal (c); Wilms, Van der Gragt, Nouwen, Janssen; Groenen, Van de Donk, Spitse; Roord, Miedema, Martens. Subs: Van Domselaar, Lorsheyd, Van Dongen, Beerensteyn, Pelova, R Jansen, Dijkstra, Leuchter, Casparij, Olislagers, Egurrola, Brugts
Sweden (3-4-3): Lindahl; Ilestedt, Bjorn, Eriksson; Glas, Angeldal, Seger (c), J Andersson; Asilani, Hurtig, Rolfo. Subs: Falk, Musovic, Sembrant, Nilden, Kullberg, Jakobsson, Blackstenius, Blomqvist, Rytting Kaneryd, Bennison, Schough, Rubensson.
Referee: Cherly Foster (Wal)
Evening. This should be a cracker! Netherlands, ranked four in the world take on Sweden, ranked No 2. There is talent peppering both squads – from the supreme attacking prowess of Vivianne Miedema and Lieke Martens for the Oranje, to deadly striker Stina Blackstenius and classy defensive rock Magda Eriksson for the Blue and Yellow. Let’s not forget that the Dutch are reigning champions, too, and will not want to see a dent in their crown as they begin their defence of it.
The Netherlands won every match in qualifying but the Swedes are probably in better form coming into the tournament. They beat Brazil 3-1 in an impressive final warm-up match, while the Dutch will still have the memory of that 5-1 mauling by England playing on their minds despite following it with two low-key wins over Belarus and Finland. There’s a sense that Mark Parsons, their English manager, is still trying to find the right tactical setup to make the most of all the talent he has at his disposal.
The match is being played at a proper football stadium, too. A large and passionate crowd is expected at Bramall Lane in Sheffield and I’m going to predict they will be entertained. After watching Germany lay down a marker with their impressive 4-0 defeat of the fancied Danes, both teams will want to show they mean business. I expect goals.
My prediction: Netherlands 2-2 Sweden