England must get past Finland, Denmark and Sweden if they are to reach the semi-finals of the 2005 European Women's Championship after the Scandinavian nations were drawn in the same pool as the host nation at the City of Manchester Stadium today.
Group B encounters
While those teams will meet in Group A, the holders Germany, France, two-time champions Norway and Italy have been drawn in Group B. The group winners will play the runners-up from the other pool in the semi-finals with the successful nations progressing to the 19 June final at Ewood Park, Blackburn.
Hope Powell's England side begin their campaign against Finland at the home of Manchester City FC on Sunday 5 June at 19.00 (20.00CET), two hours after the finals open in Blackpool when Sweden face Denmark. The penultimate and final Group A matches will be played on 8 and 11 June, with Ewood Park staging England's games and Bloomfield Road, Blackpool the others. England's decider against Sweden is a repeat of the first final in 1984, won by the Swedes on penalties.
Meanwhile, Group B gets under way on 6 June with European women's football's two most successful countries, Germany and Norway, meet in a rematch of the 1989 and 1991 finals in Warrington. Preston stages the other opening fixture as neighbours France and Italy square off. The pool continues on 9 and 12 June.
The draw ceremony was conducted by the coach of England's men's team, Sven-Göran Eriksson, in tandem with UEFA women's football committee chairman Karen Espelund and UK sports minister Richard Caborn. UEFA Chief Executive Lars-Christer Olsson, who was also on the rostrum along with Football Association chairman Geoffrey Thompson, spoke enthusiastically about the continued growth of the women's game.
"Women's football is very strong in Europe, something which was verified by two European teams reaching the final of the 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup," said Mr Olsson. "Now we have to take further steps to keep it in this position. The grassroots are strong all over Europe and there is great potential for the future.
Women's football is not a copy of the men's game and needs to be judged on its own merit; in a way it is more entertaining."
A new trophy was also unveiled, the old one retained by Germany after they completed a hat-trick of successes in 2001.
WOMEN'S EURO 2005 draw
All kick-off times BST (CET is one hour ahead)
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