England have drawn Norway, Austria and neighbours Northern Ireland in their group for Euro 2022 next summer. The tournament on home soil will see 16 teams fight to lift the title at Wembley Stadium on 31 July 2022. The prize money is €16 million, double the total from the most recent Euros in 2017 — when the Netherlands won their maiden title under now-England manager Sarina Wiegman.
Wiegman will be largely pleased with the draw, having avoided the likes of Spain, who are many people’s favourites to win the title next summer. Instead, England’s toughest test is Norway — a side they knocked out of both the 2015 and 2019 World Cups.
England’s group is completed by the inclusions of Austria and Northern Ireland. Both sides are in the Lionesses’ current World Cup qualifying group. Beth Mead scored a hat-trick last week as they saw off Northern Ireland 4-0 in a first-ever competitive international at Wembley, and they won even more handsomely, 6-0, in a friendly during Hege Riise’s interim tenure back in February. Northern Ireland are the only side among the 16 who will be competing at their first major tournament in the women’s game.Embed from Getty Images
Austria are still to come for England in their qualifying group; they first meet in England next month at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light. That will prove a good audition for the tournament’s opening game, when the two sides meet at Old Trafford on 6 July.
Should the hosts prevail from Group A, things might then start to get tough. They would face a side from Group B, which features both Germany and dark horses Spain. Germany have a phenomenally good record in this tournament, having won eight of the ten editions they qualified for.
The group pits England against the second-lowest-ranked side from pot two (Norway) and the lowest-ranked from both pots three and four. England are going to be favourites to win the group whoever they had drawn — and not just because the tournament will be on home soil — but this draw certainly confirms that.
For now, though, it is back to the World Cup qualifiers for Wiegman’s Lionesses. However, a home tie against Austria suddenly looks to have ramped up a notch or two in importance.