Meet the Women's EURO finalists: Pot 4

Russia sit alongside debutants Austria, Belgium and play-off winners Portugal in Pot 4 for the UEFA Women's EURO 2017 finals draw on Tuesday. We profile the quartet.

Portugal qualified through the play-offs
Portugal qualified through the play-offs ©FPF

Russia sit alongside debutants Austria, Belgium and Portugal in Pot 4 for the UEFA Women's EURO 2017 finals draw on Tuesday. We profile the quartet.

  • Pots in full (draw streamed live at 17:30CET on Tuesday from Rotterdam)

Pot 1: Netherlands (hosts, in Group A), Germany (holders), France, England
Pot 2:
Norway, Sweden, Spain, Switzerland
Pot 3:
Italy, Iceland, Scotland, Denmark
Pot 4:
Austria, Belgium, Russia, Portugal

  • Pot 4 profiles
©Sergei Nadtochey

Austria
2013: Play-offs
EURO best: First qualification
How they qualified: Group 8 runners-up, W5 D2 L1 F18 A4 P17
Coach: Dominik Thalhammer
One to watch: Nina Burger (forward, Sand)

What to watch out for: Austria will be making their major tournament debut in the Netherlands, but the fact they were seeded second in their group (a ranking they justified handsomely) shows that this has been coming for a while. They reached the 2013 play-offs, having been pipped to automatic qualification on goal difference, and were second behind France in their 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifying group.

Indeed, from their April 2014 World Cup qualifying loss to France to a 1-0 home defeat by Norway some two years and a day later, Austria went 18 games unbeaten – holding the likes of Spain and Italy and seeing off teams such as Australia during one nine-match winning run. In an October friendly they also came from two down in Germany to draw level, even if they eventually succumbed 4-2.

©URBSFA-KBVB

Belgium
2013:
Third in qualifying group
EURO best: First qualification
How they qualified: Group 7 runners-up, W5 D2 L1 F27 A5 P17
Coach: Ives Serneels
One to watch: Tessa Wullaert (forward, Wolfsburg)

What to watch out for: A gradual improvement since Ives Serneels took over in 2011 has resulted in a maiden qualification for Belgium. In 2013 qualifying, they were just two points behind second-placed Iceland (and four off Norway), losing only one of their four games against that pair.

A similarly promising showing in 2015 World Cup qualifying boosted their seeding for this tournament, and they comfortably made it through behind England, whom they held away from home. Foreign club experience for the likes of Justien Odeurs, Lorca Van de Putte, Janice Cayman and all-time top scorer Tessa Wullaert has certainly enhanced their credentials.

©Alexander Fedorov

Russia
2013: Group stage
EURO best: Group stage (1997, 2001, 2009, 2013)
How they qualified: Group 5 runners-up, W4 D2 L2 F14 A9 P14
Coach:
Elena Fomina
One to watch: Elena Terekhova (midfielder, Rossiyanka)

What to watch out for: Russia have tended to falter in the group stage as reliably as they have qualified, though they were unfortunate in 2013 to miss out on the quarter-finals via a drawing of lots with Denmark. This time round, only a 5-0 victory in their last qualifier against Croatia ensured the Russians avoided a play-off by virtue of goals scored, ahead of fellow runner-up Romania, and recent results have not been promising.

The base of the team is formed by the talents that won the 2005 UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship, including Elvira Todua in goal, Anna Kozhnikova and Ksenia Tsybutovich in defence, plus Elena Terekhova, Elena Morozova and the prolific but injury-plagued Elena Danilova further forward. Elena Fomina took over as coach in 2015 having often been the hero on the pitch.

©FPF

Portugal
2013: Fourth in qualifying group
EURO best: First qualification
How they qualified: Group 2 runners-up, W4 D1 L3 F15 A11 P13, won play-off v Romania (agg: 1-1, Portugal won on away goals)
Coach:
Francisco Neto
One to watch: Cláudia Neto (midfielder, Linköping)

What to watch out for: All the other finals debutants commenced qualifying in the second tier of seeds, but Portugal were drawn from Pot 4 and ranked 25th of the 40 competing countries. Even so, they overhauled both the Republic of Ireland and Finland to earn a play-off, beating the latter in a memorable comeback from two goals down, Cláudia Neto hitting a hat-trick in a 3-2 triumph.

It was the third time they had been one two-legged tie away from the finals and, despite being held 0-0 at home by Romania, the return fixture ended 1-1 after extra time, a strike from debutant Andreia Norton securing Portugal a surprise EURO place on away goals. While they have experience of facing the elite sides from hosting the annual Algarve Cup each March, this is a huge step up for the Portuguese, even with a squad containing players with foreign know-how like Neto, Chelsea's Ana Borges and Bayer Leverkusen's Ana Leite.

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