Group A - Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Belgium
A fierce competition to qualify for the quarter-finals can be expected in a group containing none of the main favourites but no weak links. As hosts, Netherlands will be full of optimism following some encouraging friendly results under new boss Sarina Wiegman, but they start with perhaps their toughest game against a Norway side which reached the final in 2013 and has a lot of attacking potential. Denmark made the semi-finals four years ago and have once again set their sights on the knockout stages, while Belgium can’t be counted out after a decent qualifying campaign which included a 1-1 draw in England.
Group B - Germany, Sweden, Italy, Russia
Reigning champions Germany have a wealth of talent at their disposal and are likely to cruise through Group B, with coach Steffi Jones confident that she has the players to adapt to any challenge or opponent. Sweden were runners-up behind Germany in last year’s Rio Olympics and have a large number of experienced campaigners in their camp so could also go a long way. Italy have a proud tradition and decent team but will probably be left to rue the fact that they have been drawn alongside two such excellent teams, while it would be a huge surprise if Russia made it into the top two.
Group C - France, Iceland, Austria, Switzerland
France are the class act in Group C, with many players from the all-conquering Lyon team in their ranks. While they should breeze into the last eight, the rest of the pool is much harder to call. Iceland may struggle without the goals of injured forward Margrét Lára Vidarsdóttir, but coach Freyr Alexandersson hopes the team will receive the same sort of inspirational support as the men did at Euro 2016. Austria and Switzerland are both competing at the European Championship for the first time and are improving teams, particularly the Swiss, who have some top players in their squad such as Chelsea’s Ramona Bachmann.
Group D - England, Scotland, Spain, Portugal
England performed better than any other European side as they edged out Germany to finish third in the 2015 World Cup, and with the squad picked by Mark Sampson they will feel they could land the trophy in the Netherlands. Making it out of the group should certainly be straightforward, although neighbours Scotland will be determined to ruin their chances in their Group D opener and come into the tournament in decent shape after a friendly win over Republic of Ireland. Spain are among a host of dark horses and could run England close, but Portugal are likely to struggle in a difficult group.
Hosts Netherlands, Norway and Sweden are all capable of beating anyone, but the bookies reckon the tournament winner will be one of Germany, France and England. The most appealing price is for Mark Sampson’s England and, if the tournament unfolds as expected, they should go into the opposite half of the draw to the other two. This means they may only have to face Switzerland and then the Netherlands or Sweden to reach the final, making an Each Way wager particularly tempting.
Germany have seen a few of their top players retire since the Olympics and are without the injured Alex Popp and Simone Laudehr. They have the players to fill those gaps and a formidable record, but it may finally be time to France to produce at a big tournament. It is not as if the core of Les Bleus squad lack experience, as they have eight members of Lyon’s Champions League-winning side at their disposal as well as four from runners-up Paris Saint-Germain. A blockbuster semi-final between France and Germany can be expected, with England likely to be waiting in the final and perhaps ready to pounce.
Sports.net’s top tip:
England to win the tournament
*Please note, odds may fluctuate.