UEFA Women's European Championships: The lowdown on Group C

UEFA Women's European Championships: The lowdown on Group C

France, Switzerland, Iceland and Austria will battle it out to progress in the competition which begins on July 16th.

rosiefilby
Rosie Filby

Switzerland and their neighbours France and Austria join Iceland to make up Group C of the fast approaching UEFA Women's European Championships, which commences on July 16th.

The top seeded team, France, are the favourites to come out on top, but following years of disappointment in the Euros, will they be able to live up to expectation?

France

Qualifying went swimmingly for Les Bleues as they topped their group following wins in all of their games. Scoring 27 goals in eight matches wasn't the only thing they got to celebrate about; they joined Germany with having a perfect defensive record, conceding no goals.

The SheBelieves Cup title holders' form has also been something to be proud of - their last five games have resulted in four wins and a draw,  albeit the latter being to seven time Euro's champions Germany. Despite France's recent success, the European Championships has never gone their way. Since the tournament's official affiliation to UEFA in 1991 they have failed to reach beyond the quarter-finals, a statistic they'll look to change this time round.

France celebrating going 3-0 up against Albania in a qualifier match

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Head coach Olivier Echouafni will look to impress fans and players in his first major tournament with the national side. The squad which he announced in late May consisted of a couple of surprises including the decision to choose Elise Bussaglia which divided opinion. The former VfL Wolfsburg midfielder failed to secure herself a spot under Ralf Kellerman's wing, with her lack of playing time causing some controversy in the selection. 

It goes without saying that France's squad is jam-packed with world class talent. Eugénie Le Sommer finished qualifying as one of the top goalscorers with eight goals in eight appearances, putting her on the watch list of the other Group C teams. With arguably the best defences in the competition, it will take a lot to break them down. Included in the 2016 FifPro World XI, Wendie Renard is one of the stand out players and will lead the back line. 

A top place finish in the group stages will be expected of the French, with a winners medal firmly in their aspirations. They'll look to see beyond their previous disappointments in the tournament and reach the final, but it will by no means be an easy ride considering the many highly-talented teams in the tournament.

Switzerland

The European Championships will serve as Switzerland's second major tournament ever, with the first being the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup where they reached the round of 16. The Cyprus Cup champions have come on leaps and bounds in recent years, and will try to continue their growth in this competition.

A comfortable qualifying saw them win all of their games and concede only three goals. Ana-Maria Crnogorčević was the standout performer - she bagged herself an incredible seven goals and seven assists in eight games, proving her worth to manager Martina Voss-Tecklenberg.

Despite this, their most recent results have seen them struggle. 2-1 and 4-0 losses against Norway and England, respectively, has highlighted frailties within the Swiss team. The England match in particular emphasised this, but it should be noted that Lara Dickenmann and Ramona Bachmann were both absentees. 

Celebrations as Ramona Bachmann scores in a qualifying match against Italy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A top two finish will be Switzerland's aim, but it won't come easy. Iceland and Austria are no pushovers and will both be fighting it out for a spot to progress to the quarter-finals. The Swiss will have to provide similar performances to that in qualifying to ensure they'll get a top-two spot.  

Head coach Voss-Tecklenberg is set to announce her final squad for the competition on Monday 3rd July at 11am CET/BST. 

Iceland

The Icelandics topped their qualifying group with little danger, scoring an impressive 34 goals and tipping Scotland to the top spot thanks to goal difference. Some major losses courtesy of injuries are a setback for the 9th ranked side, but can they still be the dark horses of the tournament?

Iceland's starting 11 against Japan in the Algarve Cup earlier this year

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Iceland finished ninth in the 2017 Algarve Cup earlier this year, showing they can perform on par with world-class teams - a win against China and draws against Norway and Spain demonstrates their capabilities. However, their results in preparation for this competition have been mixed; they registered a win, a draw and two losses in four friendlies, experimenting freely with various formations as Freyr Alexandersson nails down the way he wants his team to play. The adjustments in formations has left a sense of mystery as to how they're going to set up against fellow Group C teams, making it interesting to see how the opposition will respond. 

The squad travelling to the Netherlands is without Dóra María Lárusdóttir, Margrét Lára Viðarsdóttir and Elísa Viðarsdóttir, all due to ACL injuries. The trio will be greatly missed, but the 23-woman squad is still strong.

Portland Thorns' Dagný Brynjarsdóttir and qualifying's top goalscorer Harpa Þorsteinsdóttir are two players that any team would be happy to have. Their creativity and attacking force is something that they'll need to utilise to go far in the competition. Youngster Elín Jensen has proved her worth with her lethal scoring ability for Valur, bringing great depth into the squad.

The fight for the top two spots will be interesting to say the least. Iceland will be looking to progress to the quarter-finals and it is certainly in their reach. If the dark horses play their cards right, they could go far.

Austria

This is the first time in Austria's history that they will take part in a major tournament, a year after they were crowned champions of the Cyprus Cup in 2016. The accomplishment adds to their success in recent years as they make themselves better known on the international stage.

They qualified in an automatic position as a second-placed team, only losing one game to Norway in their qualifying group. A 3-0 win against Wales and a 6-1 win against Kazakhstan will alert opposing teams that Austria won't be a walkover despite being a fourth seeded side.

Austria celebrating after scoring against Germany in a friendly match last year

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Former Houston Dash forward Nina Burger will not only bring her well-known goal-scoring ability to the side, but masses of experience. The Austrian has immense strength and is certainly somebody that fellow Group C teams will need to be aware of. The final squad has yet to be confirmed, but it's safe to say that the 29-year-old will be one of the first names on the list.

It will be a hard task for the debutants of the tournament to land on a top two spot considering the solid competition in the rest of the group, but they shouldn't be ruled out. Defensively, they'll need to shore up as they have conceded ten goals in their past four games, showing frailties in their back line. 

The winner of Group C will play the runner-up of Group D, and the runner-up of Group C will play the winner of Group D in the quarter-finals.

First time for everything

Not only will it be the first European Championships for both Switzerland and Austria, but also the first time that Iceland and Austria have ever met. The two sides have played at youth level (U17's) but it'll be the first fixture the senior teams will play opposed to each other.

Only five FIFA rankings separate the two sides, making the final fixture in Group C even more appetising.

Fixtures

18th July

Austria vs Switzerland (17:00)

France vs Iceland (19:45)

22nd July

Iceland vs Switzerland (17:00)

France vs Austria (19:75)

26th July

Iceland vs Austria (19:45)

Switzerland vs France (19:45)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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