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Finland's Ria Öling on team spirit, the 'group of death' and aiming to make a splash in England – interview

"It's really cool that we are there this time and we can show everyone where Finland is," the midfielder tells UEFA.com ahead of her side's UEFA Women's EURO 2022 campaign in England.

Ria Öling photographed at Finland's camp in Helsinki
Ria Öling photographed at Finland's camp in Helsinki UEFA via Getty Images

With seven wins and a draw in qualifying, Finland roared into UEFA Women's EURO 2022 as Group E winners, only for the draw to place them in a brutal group alongside Denmark, Germany and Spain.

However, if the task is daunting, midfielder Ria Öling – who plays her club football in Sweden with Rosengård – is taking a philosophical line and hoping that Finland's mighty team spirit and counterattacking guile can send them into the knockout stage. The 27-year-old spoke to UEFA.com about Anna Signeul's side and her hopes for the finals in England.

Great Finland Women's EURO goals

On group stage opponents Spain, Denmark and Germany 

Each team can take points from every game. Our group is supposed to be the 'group of death', so that's where we ended up, but we don't necessarily have to win every game to qualify as the results can go either way. Naturally, we are the clear underdogs in the group, but I think it suits us better, and we have nothing to lose.

On Finland coach Anna Signeul

Finland coach Anna Signeul
Finland coach Anna SigneulAFP via Getty Images

There is a really good vibe at the training sessions and that is partly down to Anna. She always says that the Finnish people are never really satisfied so we should be happier and enjoy our success more – so now we do. Of course, we trust each other, and we believe in our game and that we will see the rewards as we did in the EURO qualifiers.

We just have to trust our way of playing: defend well as a team, trust that we have enough stamina, and counterattack quickly. We need to be dangerous when we win possession. Of course, it's an advantage [that the bulk of our team has been together for so long]. We know what each player does well and we can offer support in the not-so-strong areas.

On her footballing journey

I used to play football with the boys at nursery. When I was about five years old, my mum saw in a newspaper that a girls' team was searching for new players, so I went to play there with my elder sister who is three years older than me.

Women's EURO Trailblazers: Finland

There have been some absolute positive changes [during my career]. I started training on sand pitches, and I had training sessions in school gyms back in the day. Now there are artificial pitches almost everywhere. There are a lot of sports facilities in Vaasa as well, so conditions have developed and esteem for football has risen as well. Of course, there is still a lot to do.

On looking forward to UEFA Women's EURO 2022

It has always been a dream of mine to play [in England], and it was a disappointment that we couldn't make it to the previous EURO tournament [in the Netherlands in 2017]. I couldn't really understand what a huge disappointment it was as I still was very young back then, and I didn't quite see how rare the tournaments are. So, it is really cool that we are there this time and we can show everyone where Finland is.

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