Four years ago, Germany stormed to another European Championship. A team focused in on one goal, to win. Then manager, Silvia Neid created an unstoppable, almost unassailable team. The football landscape has radically changed since then. New footballing power-houses have emerged. Some have seen their powers diminish, for others there has been failure and redemption.
The Netherlands has provided the perfect backdrop, almost a narrative all by itself. As the surge of women's football continues in earnest. With its rich football traditions and passion to play football, at the highest technical levels. Holland really is a barometer and pulse of the sport. As Fans dust off their passports ready for a feast of football. The likes that women's football in Europe has not seen before.
Was it a dream start for The Netherlands or did the hosts falter at the first hurdle? Did Germany start their defence of the title well? And did the British derby played on foreign fields, live up to its pre-tournament billing?
Hosts spark and send Netherlands into raptures
If the Netherlands wanted a dream start, they certainly got it. There were no signs of nerves, in truth they wrote potentially an opening chapter. Of what could become a national bestseller.
Coming up against a Norwegian side who are technically gifted. Were given the harshest of footballing lessons. On one of the biggest stages of them all. From the opening whistle, Holland's desire to perform was palpable, the crowd their 12th player. Denying any freedom to Norway, frustrating them at every turn. Ada Hegerberg and her teammates, loosing patience and discipline. Norway could not even get the basics right. Simply the Netherlands did not allow them to play, nor gain a foothold in the game.
It came as no surprise when they took the lead. And if people in Utrecht did not know who Shanice Van De Sanden was before. The firmly do now, as she turned herself into the cities favourite daughter. Heading home a richly deserved winner. Frankly the 1-0 margin was not reflective of the sheer dominance of performance.
Norway boss Martin Sjöogren really does have it all to do. It's not a knockout blow to Norwegian chances. It will however crank up the pressure, sending a message to Denmark and Belgium. Norway are not infallible!
For The Netherlands it skyrockets their confidence into the stratosphere. The variety of their play, Jackie Groenen acting as a maestro and the sprightly Vivienne Miedema up front, have put the preverbial cat amongst the pigeons. Discount them at your peril.
But wasn't the home support simply fantastic?
Broadcasters score a massive own-goal
I'm currently watching the Diamond League athletics from Rabat on Eurosport Two. Frankly I'm one hop,skip and a jump from writing a strongly worded letter of complaint to Eurosport. It would not be pleasant reading! Currently on Eurosport one Viewers are being treated to Tour De France highlights of stage 15.
UK viewers without the Eurosport player missed the entire first-Half of Denmark v Belgium. Then to make matters worse and compounding the problem. Coverage started 62 minutes into the game! Wholly unacceptable.
This isn't an issue solely affecting women's football, it's certainly endemic of a problem! That broadcasters still don't consider women's football a high priority. Frankly they need to do better, this is one of the show-piece tournaments for women's football. Then there were issues with Channel 4 coverage online. Whilst American fans reported problems with ESPN.
UEFA have to investigate why one of their most lucrative flagship tournaments is being undermined. And viewers must endeavour to lobby Eurosport and other broadcasters to do better and to firmly back up their commitments to the game. By doing something incredibly dynamic, by broadcasting fixtures from start to finish.
Defending champions pose more questions than answering them
With the architect of German football dominance, Silvia Neid in the stands. You could forgive Steffi Jones for feeling the pressure! Her substantial legacy for the first time under the microscope! It was not vintage Germany but the game produced more questions than answers for the defending champions.
Sweden manager Pia Sundhage, provided another tactical master-plan. It was clear, Sweden flooded the box with players, forcing Germany to have to play through them. Maintaining a strong defensive core. Whilst hitting them on the break with Lotta Schelin surging into the channels. Causing a whole array of problems for the German defence. Kosovare Asllani offering a calming and excellent performance.
It wasn't until Mandy Islaker was introduced late in the first-half, did Germany have an outlet for some industrious play. Sweden needed to keep Dzsenifer Marozsán quiet, in part their plan succeeded. Fisher showed her experience, in producing goal-saving tackles one after another.
The game was a war of attrition, played with a ferocious at times breathless pace. You simply could not take your eye of the game, not for one moment. The 0-0 draw was a fair reflection of the game. Germany however looked short of the high standards they set themselves.
There were flashes of brilliance especially on the flanks with some intricate play. However given the overall nature of the German performance, it certainly gave rise to the notion. That they will not be given their own way in the Netherlands. Teams have found a way to counter them and Sweden are going to be incredibly difficult to break down.
In truth it sets up group B to be on a knife edge. After a shock 2-1 win for Russia over Italy, in Rotterdam earlier on. The dynamics of the tournament, have been turned on its head very early on.
France nearly frozen out against Iceland
France are very much a tournament enigma, on paper a team that should dispatch Iceland with ease. They did not count on Freyr Alexandersson's charges, having other ideas. Steely and determined, Iceland gave a hugely impressive defensive display. France at times could not cope with the physicality of the Stelpurnar Okkar.
Try as they might Élodie Tomis, Wendie Renard and Eugénie Le Sommer could not breach Gunnarsdóttir's goal. Iceland point black refusing to stick to the expected script. Playing with a belief in their game plan, showing no fear. Until Le Sommer converted from the spot, after Amandie Henry was manhandled in the box by Elin Jensen.
Who had barely been on the pitch, her sheer disbelief etched on her face. Such was the enormity of what she had just undone, the fine work Iceland had accomplished before it. In truth Iceland were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty all of their own in the first-half.
Iceland nearly wrote their own chapter, in further continuing the islands love affair with European championships. It was utter heartbreak, they must however take heart from this performance. They mixed it with one of the best teams in the world.
For France they still have work to do, it was far from a vintage performance. They do have vulnerabilities and it showed, even though they managed to get a result. There are warning signs, they must learn from them.
England win the "Battle of Britain"
Scotland will be glad to see the back of Utrecht! As England ran riot and won "The Battle of Britain." With it sending a statement of intent. The message was simple to the rest of the pack, we believe we can win this tournament.
England played with fluidity, full of confidence and belief. Not only in their ability but an assurance of their plan. From Lucy Bronze in defence to Jodie Taylor upfront. It was a complete England performance. Rarely looking troubled, causing a whole array of problems. It became clear for Scotland, it was a damage limitation exercise. Who were limited to set pieces and speculative long range efforts.
It was a hugely dominant performance, putting six past Scotland. Encompassed by the nature of the win that was telling. For years, there have been complaints that England, have not been ruthless enough. Against the old foe, the Lionesses were clinical and confident. Traits of potentially champions in waiting.
Even though they were well beaten, Scotland showed resolve. In truth it was always going to be a tough ask, with injuries to key players like Kim Little. Scotland cannot be despondent, they must pick themselves up. Demonstrating the togetherness and mental resilience, they have shown in getting to this point.
For Mark Sampson and England it was a perfect start. There will be far tougher tests to come, however the Lionesses look match sharp straight out the gate.