Women's Euro 2022: What can England & Northern Ireland expect?

Rachel Furness' Northern Ireland is ranked 48th worldwide, 40 places lower than Lucy Bronze's England
"It was written by the stars!"

Lucy Bronze was right on the money with her assessment of England and Northern Ireland being placed in the same group next summer's Women’s Euro 2022.

These two teams represent the only home nation representatives in the tournament. They will be meeting at Southampton's St Mary's Church on 15 July.

Both sides have very different expectations. The tournament favorites are England and Northern Ireland, while Northern Ireland is the lowest-ranked team in the competition.

What can they expect from a group which also includes Norway and Austria? Group B seems delicious! What could the knockout stages look?

2022 Women's Euros Final Draw in Full Group A England. Norway. Austria. Northern Ireland Group B Germany. Spain, Denmark. Finland Group C Netherlands. Sweden, Switzerland. Russia Group D France. It, Belgium, Iceland

What role will England and Northern Ireland take?

This is easy for Northern Ireland. They will play every St Mary's game because they were placed in fourth place in Group A.

England will, however, have to travel. First, there's the tournament opener against Austria at Old Trafford, then it's a trip south towards Brighton's Amex Stadium where Norway will face off on 11 July. Then, England will head along the coast to the Northern Ireland showdown, which takes place on 15 July.

Are Norway and Austria going to be tricky?

Austria - rank 21st

Austria, third seed in the group and semifinalists in 2017, will face it in the opening match of the tournament against England at Old Trafford. This game is in front of a large crowd that should cheer on the Lionesses.

After a 2-2 draw in Belfast, Austria is the most likely team Kenny Shiels will want for Northern Ireland. Despite the gap in rankings, the Irish parttimers shocked Austria to take an impressive 2-1 lead. They held that lead until injury time as their fitness was evident.

Nicole Billa is the 2021 German Player Of The Year. She is a star to be on the lookout in a side that is brimming with Bundesliga talent. They are not easy to forget.

Norway - 12th rank

Norway is a dangerous opponent to Caroline Graham Hansen, BBC Women's Footballer of the year nominee. Their meeting in Brighton with England will almost certainly determine who wins the group.

England defeated the Scandinavians in the 2019 World Cup with a comfortable win of 3-0. Martin Sjogren's team came out on top two months later in a friendly, where Barcelona star Hansen was the late winner.

Norway offers Northern Ireland a chance to prove how far they've come under Shiels. They were defeated 6-0 by them in the early stages in their tenure for qualifying for the Euros.

It will be a huge day for Ireland on July 7th when their dream of playing at the Euros becomes a reality with their first match at a major tournament.

What are the prospects for England and Northern Ireland?

England's only hope is to be crowned winners in a group that is favorable. They will face the bottom seeded teams in Northern Ireland (12th) and Austria (12th) from their respective pots before the draw. Norway will be considered far superior to Spain and Sweden, who could have been potential opponents.

The Lionesses defeated Northern Ireland 4-0 at Wembley, despite resistance from the visitors. England also put in their best performance in 2019, beating Norway 3-0 in quarter-finals. Sarina Wiegman, who will be playing in a qualifier for the World Cup against Austria next month in Sunderland, will have an opportunity to judge her team.

Although Shiels's miracle has led Northern Ireland to the first major finals, it will not be easy to get out of this group.

NI is the bottom-ranked team in this competition. However, they will be up against three highly-talented sides.

They will be favored by having all three games played in Southampton. NI will also enjoy playing England and Austria just before the Euros, which will give them an additional incentive. Keep your enemies close to your friends.

Who will England and Northern Ireland meet in the knockout stage?

Here is where the fun begins.

The winner of Group A will be faced by a team of the same gender from Group B. It is possible that this might be one of Germany or Spain.

If England and Northern Ireland finish as runners up, they will face the winners in Group B. This could be Germany, who has won eight of the 10 Euros.

If England or Northern Ireland wins the group, the potential reward will be slightly less painful with a Spain side full of Barcelona Champions League winners and a Pernille Harder inspired Denmark.

What do other groups look like?

With this in mind, it's no surprise that Group A is considered to be the group of peril.

The prospect of an encounter between eight time champions Germany, and a fluid Spanish team, who have the advantage in having a club-like feeling with 10 Barca players in recent squads, is appealing to neutrals.

Two heavyweights will also be paired together in Group C, with Sweden being the first Women's Euros winner in 1984 and the defending champions the Netherlands.

While Group D may seem to be available for France, which is ranked fifth in the world, there are still questions about what they can accomplish.

It should seem straightforward to group Italy, Switzerland, and Iceland, but the French are notorious for their ineptness on the big stage. They have never made it past the quarter-finals at a major tournament.