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These two teams are hard to separate, but we fancy the Netherlands and Sweden to both get on the scoresheet when they go head-to-head.
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The Netherlands are the holders following their triumph at Euro 2017. Home advantage undoubtedly played a part in their success five years ago, as the Dutch side finished top of their group before beating Sweden (2-0), England (3-0) and Denmark (4-2) in the knockout stage. But six wins from six, plus the empathic nature of the scorelines, show that the Netherlands were deserved champions regardless of the location. They will now hope it was not an isolated success.
Retaining the trophy will be difficult, though, not least because this tournament is taking place on foreign soil. Germany, the eight-time queens of Europe, are the only side to have won back-to-back European Women’s Championship. And the Netherlands have lost the coach who masterminded their success in the 12th edition of the tournament: England poached Sarina Wiegman when Phil Neville left his position last summer.
It would be a mistake to write the Dutch off, however. A glance down their squad list shows that they are not exactly short of talent. Indeed, the group selected for the Women’s Euro 2022 is not too dissimilar to the one which triumphed five years ago, with Vivianne Miedema and Lieke Martens among the best players on the planet today.
It is also worth remembering that the Netherlands were the runners-up at the last World Cup, which shows 2017 was not a one-off. Mark Parsons, Wiegman’s successor, is well regarded within the women’s game, although it remains to be seen if he is as shrewd an operator as Wiegman in the context of a major international tournament. Only time will tell in that regard, but the Dutch deserve their status as one of the favorites to emerge triumphant this month.
Sweden are not among the leading group of candidates to win this competition, but they are definitely one of the dark horses. In some ways, it is a little surprising that their price with Draft Kings is as long as +700. They are the highest-placed European national team in the latest edition of the FIFA World Rankings, and are behind only the United States overall. Sweden finished third at the 2019 World Cup and were the runners-up at the 2020 Olympic Games (held in 2021).
The Blue and Yellow also booked their spot at this tournament in impressive fashion, accumulating 22 points from a possible 24, scoring 40 goals and conceding just two. There is genuine strength in depth within the squad, so much so that the manager, Peter Gerhardsson, has publicly lamented the fact that he has had to leave some talented players behind.
Having previously been renowned as a defense-first team, Gerhardsson has made Sweden much more of an attacking threat during his five-year tenure. Fans of the United States will remember (with pain) the way their side was torn apart in a 3-0 defeat by Sweden at the Olympics last year.
Across both the men and women’s teams, this is a country that has often tended towards caution, so Gerhardsson deserves great credit for making Sweden a much more fluid outfit. That bodes well for this tournament, where the eventual winner will have to overcome some excellent opponents.
This is the type of game where any result feels possible. The Netherlands have the two standout individuals in Martens and Miedema, but Sweden are a well-balanced team from back to front who have done better at the last two tournaments. All three possibilities – a win for either side, or a draw – feel almost equally likely.
For that reason, we would recommend steering clear of betting the moneyline. Far better value can be found in other markets – not least the offer of +150 on both teams to score and over 2.5 goals.
The presence of Martens and Miedema makes the Netherlands an attacking team by default, and the two stars will be aided by other gifted players in the form of Jil Roord and the experienced Sherida Spitse, who will win her 200th cap this month. Sweden are also a front-footed team these days, so we can expect both sides to go on the attack in search of a victory – which in turn could lead to a high-scoring affair.
The fact this contest is taking place on matchday one also increases the chances of more than 2.5 goals, since both the Netherlands and Sweden will have time to respond to any early setback, and will thus not be restricted by fear as they might on matchday two or three.
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|Netherlands vs Sweden Information|
|Teams||Netherlands vs Sweden|
|Location||Bramall Lane, Sheffield, England|
|Time||Saturday 9 July 2022, 3.00 PM EDT|
|How to watch||ESPN2, fubo TV|
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Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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