Wednesday, June 29, 2022

FEM 2022--Group A Preview

Introduction—“Isle Sheen"

(England, Norway, Austria, Northern Ireland)


Our first group shakes out pretty favorably for the hostesses. There could be some surprises from a Norway team and an Austrian side that the bookie increasingly likes as potential Cinderella candidates. 

There was initially a subtle "Group of Death" vibe as I sat down to do the initial handicapping. The research yielded a more straightforward prediction. A bunch of WSL players (absolutely the best women's league in the world at this point) should have no difficulty dispatching this field. 

Perhaps the excitement of covering a 16-team-tournament once again (in which there actually can be such a thing as the "Group of Death" got the better of me at first. The Lionessess probably won't have too much difficulty racking up nine points here. Man, do they ever finally deserve something of an easy and early tournament cake walk. 

We haven't forgotten Laura Basset's tears from 2015.

We also haven't forgotten this:



Manners, Alex!

Do forgive the US Girl. She had no way of knowing that the winners of this very tournament used to be awarded (of all things) frilly girly tea sets. 

England—“The Three Lionesses”

Well then. Let's discuss said Lionesses, shall we? 

First off, the bookie apologies for leading anyone astray with the prediction that this team would win the 2019 World Cup. Sorry about any and all predictions I made regarding Toni Duggan as well. 

I suppose while we're at it, I might as well also say that I'm sorry for falsely stating that Karen Bardsley had retired prematurely in a 2020 column written for a separate website....then not catching that the auto-correct inadvertently butchered her name. 

Whew. Are we all cool now? Can we move on?

This program itself has done quite a bit of moving on. Bardsley has, in fact, retired. So too has former captain Karen Carney. Familiars such as Steph Houghton, Lucy Staniforth, and Jordan Nobbs didn't make the final cut. 

This guy has also moved on:

No more younger Bury Brother for everyone to pounce on. Should anyone wish to give Phil Neville some grief now, consider the fact that he did do a decent job with this program and (thanks to his advanced resignation notice), the FA was able to land the Dutch trainer who brought the Netherlands glory and broke the German Euro winning streak back in 2017.

Sarina Wiegman now runs this team and enters the tournament undefeated in 13 fixtures. The American-educated Wiegman has made some courageous decisions with this squad, making the above-mentioned cuts and immediately proving that, with some highly experimental tactics no less, this team can run up ridiculous scorelines in World Cup qualifying.

They could very well be considered favorites and should at least make the semis. At present, the absence of Frank Kirby in the ten-slot has the bookie thinking otherwise until further notice. The chronicler's pre-tournament faves--as if it matters given his track record--will be revealed in a subsequent post.

 The Talisman—Lucy Bronze 

Syndicate members know full well that their bookie loves himself a brilliant fullback. Bronze is about as brilliant as it gets. The two-time BBC footballer of the year--who has also earned European and World Player of the Year honors--is basically the Philipp Lahm of women's football. Doubtless some of you will recall her sensational tournament last time. 

Lucy has shined for every one of the six (soon to be seven as she makes the jump to Barça next year) clubs that she's played for. She roves, cuts, and senses every last opportunity from her right-back position much in the way Lahm did. She may not technically be donning the captain's armband, but she is this team's most important player. 

One of the best ever. Period. 

And tough? Why "tough" is her middle name. 

Seriously. It is. Look it up. 

  The Legends—


Ellen White 

May the legend never leave us! Even the not well-acquainted with women's football should know of the light that always shines bright for "Mother England". The 33-year-old's career remains the gift that keeps on giving; not unlike that of the Bundesliga player who's goal-scoring celebration she co-opted, Anthony Modeste. 

White seems to have a penchant for persistently regaining her form each and every time injury or age leads one to believe that it's finally time to write her off. She's set new WSL goal-scoring records since moving to Man City in 2019. Just as was the case before the previous tournament, she enters this one having collected another "England World Player" of the Year award.

That makes three such honors. Welcome back to this team's all-time-leading scorer. No active player comes anywhere close to overtaking her. Here's hoping we witness those "goggles" plenty of times in this tournament. She's got her starting spot back!

 Jill Scott 

Our famous "female Crouchy" regrettably hasn't been able to rehabilitate her late-stage career in the same manner as White. The 35-year-old--also property of Man City Ladies--has been unable to regain a fit foothold out on loan at Everton and Villa. We should still see her here as Wiegmann uses her late-on when aerial advantage on set-pieces is required.

The physical marvel that is Scott also got 11 starts during her most recent club campaign with Villa in Birmingham. Wiegmann has shown enough faith in her to give her two goes in the starting XI during World Cup qualifying. Thankfully, we should get a chance to see our fair share of this legend.  

 Fran Kirby 

One of your friendly bookie's all-time faves returns for her fourth consecutive major tournament! The Chelsea Ladies goal-machine is an absurdly gifted physical attacker, irrespective of whether she plays at nine, ten, or slanted out on the wing. Another great season with Chelsea Ladies placed her on the short-list for the women's Ballon d'or. 

At some point, this golden child with the golden smile probably will take the prize for the world's best female footballer. She's still only 28-years-old. Bookie looks forward to watching her for many years to come. Keep an eye on her in this competition. 

Yes, we have those unspecified "health issues" to worry about. Perhaps she'll make an appearance here after biding her time. 

 Nikita Parris 

One of last tournament's phenoms attains legend status this year.  The development trajectory of "La Femme Nikita" survived a few bumps over at Lyon in France and the 28-year-old is now back among the world's best. Parris remains one of the most fun players (male or female) to watch bomb up the flanks on breaks. 

Some may consider her rather lackluster season back on the Isle cause for concern. This chronicler doesn't. She still delivers for the national team, even if she doesn't start as often anymore, and has looked as good as ever in the bookie's pre-tour 

 Beth Mead 

There can be no question about the form of Parris' Arsenal teammate. The famous Yorkshire lass who led Sunderland to the top English women's tier with 77 goals in 78 appearances has continued to mature. She's now tallied 20 times for country and is coming off an 11 goal and 8 assist campaign for the Lady Gunners.

Twelve of her goals for the national team have come in the past year. Working opposite Parris on either flank, her extra sharp interpretative skills render her a constant threat. Mead locates space like few you'll ever see. What a player!


 Georgia Stanway 

A third player--along with Parris and Mead--to make the jump from phenom to legend in just four years. She's evolved into the rare type of player who can do the whole "midfield metronome" thing whilst still retaining explosive potential. After scoring eight club goals for Man City this year, she's off to Bayern München!

Your friendly bookie couldn't be more ecstatic to see her move over to his beat. She's definitely set to be one of the linchpin players in this tourney. Don't let her deep deployments fool you. The 23-year-old will be creeping up towards the net often. 

  The Next Gen—

 Bethany England 

None of you will recognize this late-bloomer from the last tournament. She wasn't there. In point of fact, she came out of nowhere following the 2019 World Cup, getting her first senior team international call up at the age of 25. A great story. From a semi-pro side to a WSL star over a decade of very hard work.

Therein lies life's most important lesson, gentlemen. Never give up! Six goals in World Cup qualifying for the now 28-year-old. A massive 12-scorer-point campaign for English League Champions Chelsea Ladies this year.  Kudos to this hard-worker who kept grinding it out until she blossomed. 

Quite possible Ellen White's natural successor. 

 Leah Williamson 

The inheritor of the captain's armband once shared by Steph Houghton and Karen Carney is still only 25-years-of-age. An interesting choice from coach Wiegmann as, during the early stages of her career at least, this "super prospect" was known predominantly as a more stay-at-home center back despite her physical build.  

The results nevertheless do not lie. The team remains undefeated under Williamson's stewardship. She's looked very effective in the pre-match friendlies and looks all set to have a great tournament. As part of a double-six set-up with close friend Keira Walsh, she exerts a compelling presence over the midfield.

 Ella Toone 

Just over a year since making her international debut, the 22-year-old Manchester United striker already has 11 goals to her credit in just 14 caps. This includes two hat-tricks in World Cup qualifying. What your friendly bookie has seen of her in light scouts is pretty damn impressive. 

She's coming off an excellent season (seven goals and eight assists) for the ManU Ladies and has netted five for country in the past seven months. Fellow phenom Lauren Hemp hasn't developed in quite the same way as Toone, meaning that the latter may get the starting spot. 

 Alessia Russo 


The American-educated (over with Heather O'Reilly at UNC no less) 23-year-old attacking midfielder can emerge from a deeper position to be a legitimate scoring threat. At least that's what she proved for ManU this season with nine solid tallies. All three of her international goals came in a WMQ thumping of Latvia; the fixture in which club teammate also scored a hat trick. 

It may not quite be this developmental prospect's time just yet as she plays on the same side as Bronze, Mead, and Parris. Wiegmann still never shies away from building surprising attacking combos on the top two axes. One never knows for sure what one will see. 

Speaking of which... 

 Projected Lineup (4-2-3-1) 


Flying a little blind here as there is one more pre-tournament friendly to scout before it all begins. I still think we're definitely looking at a 4-2-3-1 and feel fairly confident about this projection. Note that the entire left-hand side could look different. Demi Stokes may start over Daly. Hemp and Stanway might switch places.

Just about any way one slices it, however, we're looking at a lineup without any real discernible weaknesses. Some months ago there existed some lingering questions as to whether Alex Greenwood--whom many of you will recall as the "jumbo fake eyelash girl"--could step into the large boots of Steph Houghton. 

No such questions anymore. The XI stands solid top to bottom. the "new-look" Lionesses possess a lethal ability to get the ball upfield in the blink of one of Greenwood's fake eyelashes. Their almost certain to get us off to a cracking start at Old Trafford next Wednesday and shall prove one of the more entertaining teams throughout. 

Norway—“The Grasshoppers"

A warm welcome back to the national team program that the USWNT has quite a bit to thank for. As many surely already know, this was the first women's national team to negotiate equal pay insofar as tournament compensation is concerned. 

This barrier was broken in 2017, shortly after the disappointing Euro group stage exit. Unfortunately, as many also already surely know, that proved insufficient for then inaugural female Ballon d'or winner Ada Hegerberg to accept a call up to the 2019 Women's World Cup. 

The team still managed to have plenty of fun without her. 

All the way to the quarterfinals with the "selfie-goal-celebrations" girls. Now Hegerberg, following several  derailing injuries and a five-year-exile from the national team, is back. She even scored a hat trick in her first WMQ fixture upon return in April.

Hmmm..a bit difficult to see where we are here. Hard to handicap a team that either has a potentially pivotal player or an unwelcome distraction. This is a women's version of the great Zlatan debate. The talent and the way the group schedule shakes out says second place, so we'll go ahead and stick with that. 

Some goodbyes to get to before taking about those present Elise Thorsnes, Lisa-Marie Karlseng Utland, and (Vicey's favorite) Emile Haavi won't be joining us. Ingrid Hjelmseth also (finally) called it a career. Many of us were beginning to wonder if she was mortal at all. 

They'll be alright. Definitely not "implosion candidates" like last time. 

 The Talisman—Maren Mjelde 

Absolutely have to go with the captain here. The now 32-year-old Chelsea Ladies defender continues to snap on the skipper's armband as her long and illustrious career international enters its final phase. Although her club career keeps hitting potholes, we can't help but honor the legend who has been with us in every women's tournament covered by the syndicate since we began with the 2011 World Cup. 

It's been such a great pleasure to welcome her back each summer over these past 11 years. So many memories. That unforgettable goal in the 2015 group stages. The clinical penalty take in 2019. Your chronicler could literally go on all night. Let the cumulative stats speak for themselves:

Nineteen goals in 152 caps now for country.

She drives the whole team whether from the six-slot, an anchoring sweeper position, or a center-halve role. Success for the Grasshoppers in this tournament both begins and ends with her. 

  The Legends—

 Caroline Graham Hansen 

The former VfL Wolfsburg mainstay returns, now with three successful seasons for Barça Ladies under her belt. She's netted 32 tallies and claimed one Women's Champions League crown since stepping over to Spain. At 26-years-of-age, she's matured into one of the best women's wingers in the world. 

Here we have another actor with us since practically the beginning in our Sportsbook coverage. Hansen burst onto the scene along with Hegerberg during that immensely entertaining 2013 Euros during which Norway upset the Germans in the group and nearly dethroned them in the final. 

A warm welcome back to one of our returning champions. Just a top class player and personality. Can't wait to see her operate together with Hegerberg up front again. With memories of her monster 2019 tournament still fresh in the mind, it'll prove fascinating to see what she has in store for us here. 

Five goals and 13 assists from Caroline in the latest club campaign.

 Guro Reiten 

One of last tournament's phenoms hasn't quite kept up her production numbers since moving from LSK Kvinner to Chelsea Ladies in 2019. The bookie still feels she's done well enough (seven goals and six assists) in her most recent club campaign to merit a section in this space. The now 27-year-old continues to score regularly for country. 

The left wing belongs solely to Reiten and, if the projected lineup holds, it will be her primary duty to feed Hegerberg. Additionally, again assuming that Graham Hansen receives a forward deployment as in the projection, it will be Reiten's responsibility to bomb crosses into the box for her too. 

An "Assist-meister" tourney beckons for this eclectic, dynamic, and very creative player. 

 Maria Thorisdottir 

Our robust Icelandic defensive pillar, whom we discussed often whilst she played every minute of every match in the 2019 FWM, partners with captain Mjelde in central defense. This actually constitutes the first time we're not discussing an injury-laden interim for her. At long last, "die Eiskönigin" has remained healthy throughout an entire club campaign. 

The 29-year-old's career almost didn't happen at all because of all the injuries she suffered in her youth. She even retired a couple of times before hitting the age of 23. This past year she made, what was for her, a record 20 appearances for Chelsea Ladies. The CB partnership with her friend and teammate Mjelde makes it exceedingly hard to score against this team. 

 Ingrid Syrstad Engen 

Another young phenom from the previous tournament has blossomed beautifully. The remarkably mature box-to-box number eight racked up an additional 31 caps and three more goals for the national team in the intervening four years. Club-wise, she made the jump from Germany's beloved "She-Wolves" to Barça Ladies last year. 

Those of us who follow German women's football miss our "female Jude Bellingham". Alas, it was the right move for her development. She's gotten even better. Six tallies for club and country this year. Engen is now a complete player replete with a dangerous goal-scoring touch. 

 Frida Leonhardsen Maanum 


Engen's projected partner in midfield displaces Vilde Bøe Risa courtesy of the fact that she too has located her goal-scoring touch. A "phenom alert" player from the last competition now has seven national team goals to her credit. She's also found her WSL home over at Arsenal Ladies and comes off a fine club campaign with four goals across all competitions. 

Four also happens to be the number of times she's found the back of the net for Sjørgen this year. It's been a massive World Cup qualifying campaign for the 22-year-old. She complements Engen almost perfectly. Those two might be the best midfield pairing in the tournament. 

  The Next Gen—

 Karina Saevik 

Haavi's natural successor in both matters of "Elfin genes" and (regrettably) inconsistency. Now 26-years-of-age, Saevik has been bouncing around a bit in the years since the 2019 World Cup. She had stints at both Wolfsburg and PSG. After those only only produced brief sparks, she returned to the Norwegian domestic league last season. 

Oh well. Bookie still likes her. She's come of the bench to score three for the national team in the interim, including two last Autumn. After rehabilitating her form a bit in the Toppserien over the past few months, perhaps she can still realize her potential.   

 Celin Bizet Ildhusøy 

Your friendly bookie Never even heard of this 20-year-old prior to this year's prep work. PSG snatched her up just prior to the season, but she hasn't worked her way into the squad just yet. When it comes to the national team, however, she's already scored six goals in just as many caps. 

All of this happened this year right under the author's nose. Two tallies apiece in World Cup qualifying, friendlies, and the most recent Algarve cup. Most interesting. Everyone can relax as she generally drops that unpronounceable last name and simply goes by "Celine Bizet".

 Julie Blakstad 

Another 20-year-old who might just start at one of the fullback positions. Someone else your friendly bookie isn't terribly familiar with as she only made the switch to Man City Ladies early in this calendar year. She apparently plays naturally on the left-wing, but Sjorgen has fashioned her into a makeshift left-back.

Evidently, she was once a pretty big phenom on the U19 team and used to light it up for Rosenburg and the ever-unfortunately named Toppserien club "FL Fart". Apologies, but the bookie has been a bit too busy to see what's going on in the Norwegian league over the last few years. 

 Elisabeth Terland 

If I were a bit better-acquainted with the Toppserien, I could tell you something more about this 21-year-old who just bagged ten goals for SK Brann. She's also produced six tallies for the national team in WMQ, Algarve, and friendly fixtures I haven't seen. 

Honestly never seen her play. The name remains vaguely familiar as she did make one of those "procrastination engine" watch-lists that come out every so often. Certainly relishing the opportunity here.

 Sophie Roman Haug 

Sophie is a bit older than some of the other "NextGen" players. The 23-year-old center-forward recently moved to AS Roma in the Women's Serie A and the bookie did get a little scout in on her. She's clearly a classic big-target forward. 

Four goals for the Italian She-Wolves thus far and four more in national team friendlies. Doubtful we'll see much of her in this competition, but one truly doesn't know. Sjøgren may not be able to deny her current form despite the fact that he has plenty of players ahead of her. 

 Projected Lineup (4-4-2) 


It doesn't appear to be too much of a screw that we'll be dealing with a 4-4-2. Moreover, most of the positional deployments are obvious enough. Where things begin to get a bit thorny is on the right-hand side and over at the left fullback role. There, some guesswork is necessary. 

Without having the benefit of an extra friendly to scout (the Grasshoppers did play Denmark tonight if anyone's interested in catching up), bookie will tap Blakstad to start and left back. Over on the right, we're putting Synne and Tuva Hansen behind Caroline Graham. 

Indeed. The "Hansen Vertical right axis". Sounds a little silly and it may very well be wrong. Don't make the mistake of considering this team just as silly. They're a deathly serious threat to go deep into this tournament. Fabulous XI here. 

Austria—“Unsere Madl"

The Mädels from "Kleindeutschland" technically qualify as syndicate debutants, but that's merely because your friendly bookie committed the unforgivable sin of forgoing coverage of the 2017 Women's Euro. 

As a result, these pages did not cover the sensational run to the semi-finals made by Dominik Thalhammer's girls. Oops. My sincerest apologies. 

Interesting how, when reflecting upon the accomplishments of the men's national team last Summer's tournament, we all all remarked on the historic turn for Austrian football. 

These girls made history long before the guys. In their first major tournament of any kind, they went undefeated to top a tough group that included France. They actually weren't defeated through in five tournament fixtures. Eventual runners-up Denmark only bested them on penalties in the semis. 

After nine years at the helm of the program, former coach Thalhammer made way for his long-time assistant Irene Fuhrmann in 2020. She's done very well since taking over, only dropping one match to France in the qualifying round. 

Fuhrmann's team performed well against group mates England and Northern Ireland in qualifying matches for next Summer's World Cup. Your friendly bookie very much liked what he saw whilst scouting three pre-tournament friendlies involving this squad. 

Could we have a cinderella on our hands?



They surely have something to them. There's an unmistakable "team vibe" on display in these warmup matches. There's also this new girl Maria Plattner with whom I've been most impressed. Bookie happens to fancy their chances as a solid "dark horse" pick. Placing them as a straightforward third in this group was by no means easy. 

 The Talisman—Nicole Billa 

A striker very much in the Birget-Prinz-mold. She's a big bad bruiser who knows how to take her chances. Maybe more accurate to label her a blend player that combines the best attributes of Prinz, Carli Lloyd, and Kerstin Garefreckas. 

Germans know her very well as she's been kicking for the Hoffenheim women's team since 2015. In that time she's turned in 74 tallies for club. We awarded her the country's women's footballer-of the year honors in 2021 after she helped the TSG qualify for the Champions' League and led the league in goals.

Her native country bestowed the same honor upon her. She was also awarded the Austrian Female-Athlete of-the-Year prize following the 2017 tournament. Another awesome 17-scorer-point season in Sinsheim for this awesome player. 


 Victoria Schnaderbeck 

The squad captain--another key returnee from the 2017 squad--spent over a decade playing in Germany's FrauenBundesliga. She finally departed FC Bayern München for the greener pastures of the Isle in 2018, playing in North London for both Arsenal and Tottenham. 

The 31-year-old has settled into a centre-halve role during this stage of her career. She's obviously a big reason why the defensive unit remains so airtight. Schnaderbeck pairs with former Bayern teammate (and sometimes squad captain Carina Wenniger in central defense. 

 Carina Wennniger 

Also 31-years-of-age, Wenniger still represents the FC Bayern Frauen. She's made over 120 professional appearances for the Bavarians since 2007. For some reason she's been loaned out to AS Roma next year....and we miss her already. 

With 116 caps for country, she's just behind Sarah Puntigam (to be discussed below) on the all-time-list. Wenniger and Schnaderbeck together ensured that Fuhrmann's team only conceded three goals during the qualifying round.

Six clean sheets in total for the defensive pairing over the last 20 months.

 Sarah Puntigam 

The all-time caps leader is another former Bayern player who also put in four years in the Bundesrepublik for Freiburg and will now return to the FrauenBundesliga to play for Köln. A fairly big name in the women's game, known for her ability to cover acres of ground in midfield. 

Bookie likens her to Toni Kroos. The "midfield metronome" of this team can run a 4-1-4-1 as well as any player you're likely to observe. So very happy to have her back in the Bundesliga!

 Sarah Zadrazil 

Well. We did void to write things cleaner this year. That notwithstanding, the bookie can't help but dust off the old "footballing crush" descriptor when it comes to this player. I've been a very big fan of this attacking midfielder since she first hopped back across the pond to play for Turbine Potsdam. 

The 29-year-old, now with Bayern, went to college in the states. Her path to European footballing stardom was thus very unconventional and thereby quite interesting. She's been working up higher in the ten-slot for Fuhrmann as of late, recently commemorating her 13th goal in nearly 100 caps for country. 

A sentimental fave for the bookie.  

 Verena Hanshaw 

Another one whom the bookie knows well and has always liked. She's played almost her entire professional career in BaWü and Hessen for Freiburg, SC Sand, and (most recently) Eintracht Frankfurt. A great buccaneering left-back coming off a solid club campaign. 

Another hero from the 2017 squad as well, from which she emerged with "XI of the tournament" honors. Back then she was known as "Verena Aschauer". Congratulations on the new marriage, Mädel.  

 Barbara Dunst 

One of Henshaw's SGE Ladies teammates. Also an alum of Leverkusen and MSV Duisburg. She's just completed a fabulous campaign for the Adlerträger (six goals and six assists) and done incredibly well for the national team (five goals, nine assists) in the last calendar year.

Perhaps the only problem her current trainer has concerns where to place her. Too deep on the third midfield axis seems a terrible waste. Dunst counts as a true playmaker and positional all-rounder. Given her surging form, placement truly means everything. 


 Lisa Kolb 

Another versatile attacker who can play on either wing or all the way up top. We've not seen much of the 21-year-old since she began breaking into the Freiburg lineup this year. She has scored her maiden Bundesliga goal, but most everyone agrees that she's about to breakthrough. 

Could be a great "joker" off the bench.

 Laura Feiersinger 

A crucial element of the 2017 cinderella squad. The 29-year-old has represented Bayern, Sand, and now the merged Frankfurt team. She played every minute of every match in her last tournament. Now at a total of 16 goals in 96 caps for country, the 29-year-old should start behind Billa and beside Zadrazil.

She should also make some waves. 

 Projected Lineup (4-1-4-1) 

We've actually seen three different formations in the pre-tournament friendlies. It nevertheless remains obvious to the bookie that--experimentation notwithstanding--this is what Fuhrmann wants to go (perhaps better stated "go for broke") with. I like it. It's intrepid. 

Should we see something more Franco Foda-esque, I'll be sorely disappointment. With this, the team has real potential to claim a few scalps. Note that the bookie's "Bundesliga bias" has frequently proved wrong in the past. 

Make up your own mind. 


Northern Ireland—“The Lady Irons”

Well. Here we have a set of true "syndicate debutants". Having understandably known next-to-nothing about this program, the bookie had wait until Monday the 27th of June to even get a final squad list. 

As it turns out, the Unionist lasses do feature a few familiar names. Naturally the lone pre-tournament scout proved pretty useless as head-coach Kenny Shiels wasn't operating with the squad he wanted. 

Incidentally, you did read that correctly. Former Kilmarnock gaffer Kenny Shiels runs this team. That's a pretty interesting factoid for footballing aficionados. 

Those more tangentially interested in the sport might know Shiels as the man who placed his foot firmly in mouth when he noted that his girls lost their nerve in a 0-5 defeat to England this past Spring because "women are more emotional than men". 

Errrmm. That may have some truth to it in a general sense, but men do happen to be pretty damn emotional on the football pitch. Conceding two goals in quick succession frequently leads to men's teams falling apart....shall we say....every minute of every day? 

Anyways, let's meet some of the lasses. 


And, yes! I know you guys want the jersey! 

Relax. There's some on order.

 The Talisman—Simone Magill 



Here's a very familiar name to all those who take time to follow the women's game. The 27-year-old has been a staple of the Everton women's team since 2013, capturing team player-of-the-year honors twice whilst representing the Toffees. 

Truth be told, she is a little more known for her vivacious personality (lot's of heart-warming selfies with her club and national team colleagues) than she is for her goal-scoring record. Not to say that she hasn't put up respectable production numbers, but fans of the game tend to respect her spirit more. 

All of that notwithstanding, she remains an hard working constant hustler who is quite fun to watch. She'll make the most of her screen time here with some pretty play. Hopefully, she'll come away from this tourney with more than just a late consolation goal. 


 Ashley Hutton 

First time at a major tournament for the 34-year-old central defender with 114 caps for country. Bookie obviously hasn't seen her play as she's never worked outside the domestic league and only made a brief relief appearance in the pre-competition scout. Cool that she at least gets a chance here.

 Julie Nelson 

The other veteran central defender who has donned the Unionist Green for quite some time. Julie's 37-years-of-age and has turned in 125 caps. Yeah. Never heard of her. Sorry.  Watched her play the first half of that pre-tourney warm up match and still have nothing notable to say. 

Marissa Callaghan 

Here's the designated squad captain. Thirty-six-years-of-age. Seventy Two caps. Nine national team goals. Plays for some club I've never heard of called Cliftonville somewhere near the northern outskirts of Belfast. Even she didn't play in the Belgium friendly. Bookie flys pretty blind here. 

 Rachel Furness 

There we are. Everyone knows the 34-year-old English League veteran who used to feature for both Newcastle and rivals Sunderland. She's been around a bit, most recently finding success at Liverpool. A very talented no. 10 who just came off an 11-scorer-point season for club and netted nine tallies for country this year in World Cup qualification.

Here we have something. 

 Kirsty McGuinness 

We've got something here as well. A female Per Mertesacker who operates as a left-slanted striker. She still plays for in the domestic league, but has found the back of the net five times for country this year. Together with Furness and Magill, she lends some potential to this attack. 

 Caitlin McGuinness 


No real excuse for this I suppose beyond the fact that sisters, both of whom play striker, is kind of a cool story. The 19-year-old is eight years her older sibling's junior. They're apparently set to play for the same club team (Cliftonville again next year). 

If someone has told me prior to the prep work that a red-headed sibling-pairing with the "McGuinness" surname represent the Irons, I would have instead that they made it up.

 Projected Lineup (4-1-3-2) 

Bookie's best guess. A 4-1-3-2 would make the most sense for this team, even if Shiels used a 3-4-3 in the Belgium friendly. This is probably totally wrong. As usual, the bookie looks forward to being proven wholly wrong about matters and talking about it in the dailies. 

Would love to be proven wrong about this side in general, but given the state of the competition it really looks like they're in for a quick three-and-out tournament here. Hard to see them rising off the bottom. 


Vicey’s Fearless Group Prediction (Straight Up Odds for bookie)

 1) England   

 2) Norway

 3) Austria

  4) Northern Ireland

Overall Championship Odds

 England (Straight Up)

  Norway (2 to 1)

  Austria (5 to 1)

   Northern Ireland (12 to 1)

Quarterfinal Odds

 England (NO BETS)

  Norway (Straight Up)

  Austria (Straight Up)

   Northern Ireland (3 to 1)

Semifinal Odds

 England (NO BETS)

  Norway (Straight Up)

  Austria (3 to 1)

   Northern Ireland (8 to 1)