The Women’s European Championship got underway on Wednesday evening in Sweden with Germany seeking to defend their title after taking it in Finland back in 2009.
England’s campaign gets going this evening with Hope Powell’s side lining up against Spain. England had a great run to the final during the last tournament before being totally outclassed by the Germans in the final.
They came away on the wrong end of a 6-2 drubbing that time but the aim will be the same for the three Lionesses this year, of going all the way to the final.
England are the second highest-ranked team in Group C, with France, their third and final opponents being ranked one place above them in the FIFA lists in sixth place.
Their next match, on 15th July, will see them face world number 22 side Russia, who haven’t made it past the group stage in the EUROs since 1997.
On paper, tonight’s opponents Spain will pose the next biggest threat, as they make only their second appearance in a women’s EURO competition.
Whilst the nation’s men’s side are up their within the elite of the game, the ladies are not yet up to that stage but will surely be aiming to replicate their male counterpart’s success.
Powell has a full complement of players to choose from bar defender Sophie Bradley, who has been ruled out after injuring her ankle in the warm-up during the friendly against Sweden last week.
Crucially, experienced striker Kelly Smith is available following issues with her shin. The 34-year old Arsenal player is a proven goalscorer at international level with 46 goals to her name in 113 appearances for England. She is favourite to open the scoring tonight and Skybet are offering odds of 11/2.
Strike-partner Ellen White will also be a key player for England this evening and she is available at 6/1 with William Hill to net the first goal this evening.
Spain’s biggest threat in the final third is 26-year-old Verónica Boquete who’s extra time goal against Scotland in the play-offs booked Spain’s place in the tournament.
Her international goal to game stats are very impressive, having scored 14 times for Spain in as many appearances. Bet Victor provide the best odds of 13/2 for her scoring first in the match.
In terms of betting odds for the game tonight, England are favourites to kick-off their campaign with a win and Paddy Power provide the best odds of 11/8 in an English victory.
Boylesports are offering the best odds on a Spanish victory at 12/5. So far in the tournament, all four games have ended in draws and the best odds for that sequence to be replicated in this game are offered by Bet365 at 5/2.
You can watch the match live tonight from 7:30pm on BBC Three.
In terms of winning the overall tournament, Germany are big favourites of securing their eighth European Championship title. The women’s side have been at the pinnacle of women’s football for a long time and have won seven out of the last eight EURO tournaments. Betfair provide the best odds of 20/13.
France are likely to be one of the biggest challengers to Germany’s reign and are available at 10/3 with Stan James whilst hosts Sweden are 4/1, also with Stan James.
England are considered as relative outsiders to win the tournament and Stan James also offer the best odds of 14/1 on them scooping the title in a few weeks’ time.
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