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UEFA Women's EURO Group B preview

Published: Tuesday 9 July 2013, 11.15CET
Two-time champions Norway, the Netherlands and Iceland present the initial hurdle as Germany aim for a sixth straight title. UEFA.com previews the action in Vaxjo and Kalmar.
 

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Published: Tuesday 9 July 2013, 11.15CET

UEFA Women's EURO Group B preview

Two-time champions Norway, the Netherlands and Iceland present the initial hurdle as Germany aim for a sixth straight title. UEFA.com previews the action in Vaxjo and Kalmar.

GROUP B SCHEDULE

Germany (holders)
The Germany women's team is only just over 30 years old but is the dominant force in Europe, if not the world.

Coaching guru Gero Bisanz set up the West Germany team in 1982 and set up a scouting and youth system as well as encouraging clubs to adopt a uniform playing style to ensure players could slot easily into the national side. Within seven years he had a team good enough to win the European title 4-1 against Norway in front of around 22,000 fans in Osnabruck. In 1991, a unified German team tasted glory in the new UEFA European Women's Championship and although they lost their title to Norway in 1993, they have won every edition since as well as two FIFA Women's World Cups.

Their youth system has ensured that as greats like Maren Meinert, Birgit Prinz and Steffi Jones have retired, talents like Simone Laudehr and Célia Okoyino da Mbabi have replaced them. Their loss in the 2011 World Cup quarter-finals to Japan on home soil was a blow, and later that year Spain ended Germany's winning streak in qualifying going back to 1999, but they have since returned to supreme form, with Da Mbabi's qualifying total of 17 goals a record.

Best performance: winners 1989, 1991, 1995, 1997, 2001, 2005, 2009

Qualifying: Group 2 winners, P10 W9 D1 L0 F64 A3 Pts28

Qualifying top scorer: Célia Okoyino da Mbabi 17

Key players: Nadine Angerer (goalkeeper, 1. FFC Frankfurt), Anja Mittag (midfielder, FC Malmö), Célia Okoyino da Mbabi (forward, 1. FFC Frankfurt)

Coach: Silvia Neid

They say: "Germany are always among top favourites in women's football. We have to live with that; we have worked hard for it. But there are certainly other teams which will fight for it as well, like France for example. I think we will really see a great tournament." – Nadine Kessler

Iceland
UEFA Women's EURO 2009 was the first senior final tournament for either men or women to feature a team from Iceland, and they are back again.

The closest they had come was 1995, when they lost a two-legged quarter-final to England, and they also reached the 1997 and 2005 play-offs, beaten respectively by eventual winners Germany and finalists Norway. The appointment of Siggi Eyjólfsson as coach in 2007 produced immediate success as they reached the 2009 finals in Finland, and having run France close in 2011 Women's World Cup qualifying, made it through again to Sweden.

They began qualifying superbly by beating Norway 3-1, but five dropped points against Belgium allowed the two-time champions to catch them and snatch first place in the final game. Still, Iceland held off Ukraine in the play-offs, the prolific Margrét Lára Vidarsdóttir reaching a double-figure goal tally in qualifying for the second EURO campaign running. Vidarsdóttir is one of several Swedish-based professionals in the squad.

Best performance: group stage 2009

Qualifying: Group 3 runners-up, P10 W7 D1 L2 F28 A4 Pts22

Play-offs: Ukraine W3-2(a), W3-2(h), agg: W6-4

Qualifying top scorer: Margrét Lára Vidarsdóttir 11

Key players: Katrín Jónsdóttir (defender, Djurgårdens IF DFF), Dóra Maria Lárusdóttir (forward, Valur Reykjavík), Margrét Lára Vidarsdóttir (forward, Kristianstads DFF)

Coach: Siggi Eyjólfsson

They say: "I have a lot of friends on the Dutch team and on the Norwegian team, and the feeling I get is that everybody is going to be playing for second place a little bit. Even though you should never say that, but Germany are such strong competitors." – Thóra Björg Helgadóttir

Netherlands
The Netherlands' qualification for UEFA Women's EURO 2009 and subsequent run to the semi-finals in Finland was a real breakthrough.

Although the team had already existed for nearly 30 years, there had been little success despite the presence in the 1980s and 1990s of defender Vera Pauw, who turned professional in Italy. It was her appointment as coach in 2005 that changed matters, and after a promising 2007 Women's World Cup qualifying bid which included a win in France, they made it to Finland in 2009 with a play-off defeat of seeds Spain.

Once there, the Netherlands proved a tough team to beat, overcoming Ukraine and crucially Denmark to reach the quarter-finals where they beat France on penalties. Although they then lost 2-1 in extra time to England, their performance earned the players Olympic funding from the Dutch government. Pauw stepped down the following year, but under Roger Reijners they made it to UEFA Women's EURO 2013 with a more expansive style, finishing behind England in their group but ending as best runners-up to avoid the play-offs.

Best performance: semi-finals 2009

Qualifying: Group 6 runners-up, P8 W6 D1 L1 F20 A2 Pts19 (best runners-up)

Qualifying top scorer: Manon Melis 8

Key players: Daphne Koster (defender, AFC Ajax), Anouk Hoogendijk (midfielder, AFC Ajax), Manon Melis (forward, FC Malmö)

Coach: Roger Reijners

They say: "Four years ago we qualified for the first time, so now it is the second time we've played a big tournament like this. It is really important for the women's soccer in Holland that we qualified, not only for us but also for the younger players who play in the younger teams, upcoming stars." – Manon Melis

Norway
Norway are the only multiple European women's champions other than Germany, and even if their fortunes have dipped in recent years, they have a knack of performing when it matters.

They proved that in 2005 when they upset Sweden in the semi-finals, and again four years later with another surprise of their neighbours, this time in the last eight; they then gave Germany a real scare.  In their pomp, Norway were the first Europeans to win the Women's World Cup in 1995, and UEFA's only Olympic champions five years later, heights they wish to scale again.

Their qualifying campaign was fraught and even a play-off place was in doubt after defeats in Iceland and Northern Ireland. But in 2012, they hit form to pip Iceland with a 2-1 win in the group decider in Oslo. However, the decision was still taken not to renew coach Eli Landsem's contract, which expired at the end of 2012; they turned to the man that led them to victory in 1993 and at the 1995 World Cup, Even Pellerud. Qualifying top scorer Isabell Herlovsen is out injured but Solveig Gulbrandsen is included having ended her retirement last year.

Best performance: winners 1987, 1993

Qualifying: Group 3 winners, P10 W8 D0 L2 F35 A9 Pts24

Qualifying top scorer: Isabell Herlovsen 9

Key players: Ingrid Hjelmseth (goalkeeper, Stabæk FK), Ingvild Stensland (midfielder, Stabæk FK), Solveig Gulbrandsen (midfielder, Vålerenga Fotball)

Coach: Even Pellerud

They say: "Even though I've played in two EURO before, I'm still very excited. I think it's going to be huge in Sweden, it's almost home turf, so I hope that many Norwegians will come down." – Ingvild Stensland

Last updated: 13/07/13 21.45CET

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