Winners of the inaugural Women’s Euro in 1984, Sweden remain among the competition’s favourites 38 years later while reigning champions Netherlands will also want to kick-start their tournament with a positive result.
Portugal vs Switzerland: Group underdogs aiming for points on the board
Both Portugal and Switzerland head into Saturday’s game as the Group C underdogs, and will be wanting to settle some tournament nerves with their first points.
Portugal made the tournament after Russia were expelled after the invasion of Ukraine. It is their second ever major tournament, having also featured at Euro 2017, with manager Francisco Neto aiming for a better showing this time around.
“Our aim is to perform better than we did in 2017. It was always going to be a tough start for us in this group, no matter who we were up against in the opening game,” he said.
“We know that Switzerland are the closest team to us in the rankings. They have players that ply their trade at top clubs across Europe and are a team that we fully respect but we know that we have our own strengths that will allow us to head into the game full of confidence, and we can compete with them.
“A victory would give us a massive boost and settle our nerves heading into the other group games.”
Switzerland were one of the last teams to qualify for Euro 20222, making it through in dramatic fashion via a penalty shoot-out against the Czech Republic in April 2021.
“We had many games in between, and now it’s sinking in that it’s finally starting,” Arsenal and Switzerland defender Noelle Maritz said. “Everybody is giving everything in training and we can’t wait for the first game.”
Switzerland manager Nils Nielsen added: “It’s incredibly important, especially in a group like ours, that the first game provides us with at least one point so we are still in the tournament.
“If we lose the first game, it’s going to be a very difficult task to go through the group.
“They’re going to attack us, I’m pretty sure. It’s part of their game that they can stay low and attack with fewer players than many of the other teams. That’s a quality, but it can also be a problem when they have to change their strategy during the game.”
Netherlands vs Sweden: Old foes meet again in heavyweight clash
As you would expect between two of the giants of the women’s game, Saturday’s clash is not the first time these two have met in a major tournament.
It is the Netherlands who have come out on top in recent years, beating Sweden in the last eight of Euro 2017 on their way to winning the tournament, and in the semi-finals at the 2019 World Cup.
And Sweden’s Magdalena Eriksson is out for payback, saying: “For me, it’s a bit of extra fuel, I want a little revenge. I want a good result against the Netherlands for many different reasons, and it adds a little bit of fuel to the fire.”
However, Arsenal midfielder Stina Blackstenius will not start against the Netherlands. Sweden coach Peter Gerhardsson said: “One of our strengths in previous tournaments has been the medical team. They give me the exact amount of minutes a player can play, and we will see after today’s [Friday’s] training.
“But if I said she would start, no one would believe me, so it’s just as well that I say how it is. I believe it’s also a bit alarming for the Netherlands to know she is there, but not know how much she will play or what damage she can do.”
The Netherlands began their pre-Euros preparation with a 5-1 defeat to England, before victories against Belarus and Finland, keeping successive clean sheets.
Netherlands manager Mark Parsons said: “We won’t start the tournament as the best, and I think we’ve accepted that. But we really believe in our qualities and that every minute and every game we get together will only make us stronger.
“They know the quality of Sweden and have great respect for them but we also see lots of opportunity. Sweden were probably the best team in the Olympics, although they fell just short, and they’ve done well to continue moving forward.
“They are a very experienced team with great communication on and off the pitch. We Wwill have to be at our best.
“We have one or two players that we’ll find out about [their fitness] today, but things look positive. We’ll just have to get through training. We’re in a position that we could have hoped for three and a half weeks ago.”
Follow Euro 2022 across Sky Sports
Keep up with all the latest from Euro 2022 across Sky Sports and Sky Sports News this summer.
Coverage will be anchored by Sky Sports WSL presenter Caroline Barker, alongside Jessica Creighton and Kyle Walker. Meanwhile, Karen Carney, Sue Smith, Courtney Sweetman-Kirk and Laura Bassett will give analysis throughout the tournament.
They will also be joined by experienced England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley and Manchester City defender Esme Morgan.
The pundits and presenters will work from the Sky Sports Women’s Euro 2022 Mobile Presentation Bus, which will follow the Sky Sports News team around the country to the various stadiums where matches are being played.
In addition, Sky Sports’ Essential Football Podcast will be rebranded for the tournament to Sky Sports Women’s Euros Podcast from 21 June. Hosted by Charlotte Marsh and Anton Toloui, it will feature exclusive news and player interviews in addition to a strong programme line-up around the tournament.
Euro 2022: The groups…
Group A: England, Austria, Norway, Northern Ireland
Group B: Germany, Denmark, Spain, Finland
Group C: Netherlands, Sweden, Portugal, Switzerland
Group D: France, Italy, Belgium, Iceland
Euro 2022: The schedule…
Wednesday July 6
Group A: England 1-0 Austria
Thursday July 7
Group A: Norway 4-1 Northern Ireland
Friday July 8
Group B: Spain 4-1 Finland
Group B: Germany vs Denmark – kick-off 8pm, London Community Stadium
Saturday July 9
Group C: Portugal vs Switzerland – kick-off 5pm, Leigh Sports Village
Group C: Netherlands vs Sweden – kick-off 8pm, Bramall Lane
Sunday July 10
Group D: Belgium vs Iceland – kick-off 5pm, Manchester City Academy Stadium
Group D: France vs Italy – kick-off 8pm, New York Stadium
Monday July 11
Group A: Austria vs Northern Ireland – kick-off 5pm, St Mary’s
Group A: England v Norway – kick-off 8pm, Brighton and Hove Community Stadium
Tuesday July 12
Group B: Denmark vs Finland – kick-off 5pm, Stadium MK
Group B: Germany vs Spain – kick-off 8pm, London Community Stadium
Wednesday July 13
Group C: Sweden vs Switzerland – kick-off 5pm, Bramall Lane
Group C: Netherlands v Portugal – kick-off 8pm, Leigh Sports Village
Thursday July 14
Group D: Italy vs Iceland – kick-off 5pm, Manchester City Academy Stadium
Group D: France vs Belgium – kick-off 8pm, New York Stadium
Friday July 15
Group A: Northern Ireland v England – kick-off 8pm, St Mary’s
Group A: Austria vs Norway – kick-off 8pm, Brighton and Hove Community Stadium
Saturday July 16
Group B: Finland vs Germany – kick-off 8pm, Stadium MK
Group B: Denmark vs Spain – kick-off 8pm, London Community Stadium
Sunday July 17
Group C: Switzerland vs Netherlands – kick-off 5pm, Bramall Lane
Group C: Sweden vs Portugal – kick-off 5pm, Leigh Sports Village
Monday July 18
Group D: Iceland vs France – kick-off 8pm, New York Stadium
Group D: Italy vs Belgium – kick-off 8pm, Manchester City Academy Stadium
Wednesday July 20
Quarter-final 1: Winners Group A v Runners-up Group B – kick-off 8pm, Brighton and Hove Community Stadium
Thursday July 21
Quarter-final 2: Winners Group B v Runners-up Group A – kick-off 8pm, London Community Stadium
Friday July 22
Quarter-final 3: Winners Group C v Runners-up Group D – kick-off 8pm, Leigh Sports Village
Quarter-final 4: Winners Group D v Runners-up Group C – kick-off 8pm, New York Stadium
Tuesday July 26
Semi-final 1: Winners quarter-final 1 v Winners quarter-final 3 – kick-off 8pm, Bramall Lane
Wednesday July 27
Semi-final 2: Winners quarter-final 2 v Winners quarter-final 4 – kick-off 8pm, Stadium MK
Sunday July 31
Winners semi-final 1 v Winners semi-final 2 – kick-off 5pm, Wembley