Friday, July 1, 2022

FEM 2022--Group B Preview

Introduction—“The Fatherland's Dopplelrezession"

(Deutschland, Spain, Denmark, Finland)


For one final time in the syndicate pages, your friendly bookie gets a chance to cover his home country. Oh joy. To be perfectly honest, I'm glad such days are coming to an end. 

Just as is the case with the men's team--picked for the first time not to finish first in their group last Summer--the DFB women's program struggles mightily with its sense of identity. 

The once undisputed "Queens of Europe" (eight overall championships and six consecutive titles between 1995 and 2013) enter this competition in horrible form. While there were some mitigating COVID circumstances involved, we've lost three fixtures since the turn of the calendar year. 

For reasons we'll get into below, there's even more reasons to doubt this crew than there were three years ago. We might as well even use the same introductory picture. Do join me in welcoming regular friend of the syndicate Hans Beinholtz one last time.



Yes, it's that bad. The German footballing economy looks headed for a painful "double dip" over the next few months. We're just not where we need to be at the moment.  Erik Frandsen retired his famous comedic persona far too soon.

Deutschland—“Die Mädels”

The two-time World Champions will have to do without key players Dzsenifer Marozsan (injured once again) and Melanie Leupholz (on pregnancy leave).

That actually isn't the biggest cause of concern. There are enough talented attackers to make up the difference. What ails us this time is exactly the same issue as 2019: No functional center-halve duo. 

Trainer Martina Voss-Tecklenburg was given some leeway after the quarterfinal elimination in the 2019 FWM kept us out of the Olympics. In the three years that have passed, however, it's unacceptable that she hasn't come up with a solution. 

Marina Hegering and Kathrin Hendrich as the CB pairing simply doesn't work, particularly in light of the fact that the former grapples with fitness issues. Opposing attacks frequently blow us apart. Our goalkeeping situation remains, thanks to Voss-Tecklenburg's questionable tinkering, isn't exactly confidence-inspiring. 

The attack, thanks to some of the head-coach's unnecessary public promises, appears set to operate at less than full capacity as well. While certainly reserving the right to change his mind about the coaching situation if we pull it together, the bookie gives a massive thumbs down to this appointment. Our former international hasn't given us anything coherent over the last three years.

We denizens of the Bundesrepublik do indeed expect a lot from our footballing programs, both men's and women's. The country's lone safe sources of national pride must deliver the semi-finals in every tournament. It remains their charge to secure maximum opportunities for us to wave our flags about at public viewings during the temperate Summer eves. 

There shall be more than requisite support for our Mädels in the coming days. Plenty of public interest from the football-starved populace in the coming days. We support our girls. The bookie himself has prepared an introduction to the full roster (excluding third string keeper Ann-Katrin Berger) below. 

Twenty two player profiles.....and a dour prediction that we won't be topping this group. Hoping to be proven dead-wrong here. Looking forward to writing some glowing reviews. Nevertheless standing by to pen another dreary obituary.

 The Talisman—Alexandra Popp 

Contrary to what a now famous television advert insinuated, we all know the name. We've been familiar with Alex since she burst onto the scene some 12 years ago. Our national team encounters persistent difficulty functioning without her. Had she been available for the 2017 FEM, we might be discussing seven consecutive European titles.

Entering the tourney, Popp is coming unfortunately coming off injury problems that may sideline her or at the very least relegate her to a ten role. The squad's current caps (114) and goals (53) leader shall still be relied upon to deliver invaluable leadership whether she features regularly on the pitch or not. 

It's been three years since she scored a goal for the national team. So desperately hoping that she can get going in this competition. Her importance cannot be understated. Here we have the female version of Joshua Kimmich, Thomas Müller, and Leon Goretzka all rolled into one. 

  The Remaining Cast—

 Almuth Schult 


Popp's long-time Wolfsburg teammate (now moving to the newly formed Angel City F.C.) in California continues to fulfill a function as one of the most consistent media ambassadors for the sport both within the country and outside of it. Just like Nadine Angerer before her, a very important figure. 

A shoulder injury and subsequent pregnancy saw her lose her #1 spot on the national team. The 31-year-old warms the bench behind Merle Frohms of Eintracht Frankfurt. Schult, following a solid comeback season between the sticks for her German club, however, hasn't quite given up hope of regaining it. 

 Merle Frohms 

The 27-year-old moved in on the top net-minding spot in 2021. Voss-Tecklenburg has publicly stated her ambition to keep her there until further notice. The former Wolfsburg and Freiburg keeper has now amassed 27 caps for country. It honestly hasn't been the best club campaign for her (30 goals conceded), but our coach wishes to keep her there anyway. Okay. We'll see. 

 Sophia Kleinherne 

The 22-year-old central defender earned her first cap for the national team after the FWM in 2019. She's made 15 more appearances for country since then. Not a projected starter on this team. Nevertheless still one worth keeping an eye on as she's already racked up 94 appearances for the FFC/SGE.

 Kathrin Hendrich 

Probably the starting center-halve. One strongly assumes that if Voss-Tecklenburg doesn't feel comfortable rolling with the Doorsoun-Hegering partnership. Since we last checked in with this "late bloomer", her solid club career has continued apace. She turned in more successful seasons with Bayern and Wolfsburg.

The 30-year-old comes off a three-scorer-pint campaign with the She-Wolves and has registered a pair of assists in World Cup qualifying. A very good player, pop course. Still not exactly the type of "iron curtain" defender featured on so many other sides in the tournament.  

 Marina Hegering 

Hendrich's almost-certain defensive partner. Again, not a bad player at all. Still emblematic of the problems that we have filling this position. The 32-year-old had to spend part of the season completing rehab assignments at FCB II. Lots of mistakes this year for the national team in friendlies and WMQ fixtures.

We remain very thin at the CB position. Our opponents have an obvious target to throw pressure on. Like Hendrich, Hegering can rack up scorer points on corners and set-pieces. Her defensive abilities nevertheless remain fairly average. 

 Sara Doorsun 

Voss-Tecklenburg could end up giving our one-time Iranian-Turkish savior another shot. Bookie just doesn't see it happening as her career has continued along its downward trajectory since the last major tournament. Doorsun has failed to catch on at both Wolfsburg and Frankfurt. 

Man, do we ever miss the likes of Babett Peter, Anike Krahn, and Sosa Bartusiak. No one replaced the last generation of more reliable and sturdy central defenders. Such a shame as Doorsoun's earlier career did show such promise.

 Giulia Gwinn 

At least we have this 2019 tournament darling returning. The scorer of that year's opening tournament goal remains etched in all of our memories. Some competition the then 19-year-old had. One could hardly place her in an actual position given how freely she roamed about. 

Gwinn has turned in a most successful interim, sometimes working up ahead on the right-wing for club team Bayern. She'll tart at right-back here, providing us with some real strength on switches and diagonals. Seven goals and five assists across all competitions this year for the mega-talent.

 Felicitas Rauch 

We've got an excellent left-back as well. The 26-year-old is every bit as good as Tabea Kemme, Lena Lotzen, or Leonie Maier. She's certainly an upgrade over Carina Simon or Verena Schwers. The VfL Wolfsburg professional comes off a 14-scorer-point club campaign and has tallied twice for country this year. 

If both our fullbacks can keep the defensive zone clear, we can keep the focus off our glaring weak spot. It would naturally be nice if track-back defending was in the repertoire of either one of our wide defenders. As it stands, we'll just have to run a lot of risks.

 Lena Lattwein 

Not seeing a place in the starting XI for the 22-year-old She-Wolf. This despite an eminently successful club campaign in which she netted seven tallies for the VfL. A decent enough weapon to have in reserve, though most of us would prefer Lena Petermann, Melanie Leupholz, or Dzsenifer Marozsan at less than 100 percent. 

 Sydney Lohmann 

Another back-up midfielder. The 22-year-old did register a goal in the 7-0 pre-tournament demolition of Voss-Tecklenburg's former side Switzerland. She might still go the entire competition without making an appearance. Only 12 international caps thus far for the FC Bayern youth academy product. 

 Jule Brand 

The 19-year-old Germersheim native also found the back of the net in the warm-up friendly. There's a bright future ahead for the Hoffenheim professional, who has amassed a very impressive seven scorer points this year in the WMQ qualifying rounds and chipped in an even more impressive nine goals across all competitions for club.

Perhaps she'll start here. It's entirely possible. Brand, along with the to-be-discussed below Tabea Waßmuth and Laura Freigang, are basically our "NextGen" players. In light of the weaker aspects of this team however, it seems more reasonable to expect that Voss-Tecklenburg will opt for more experience in the midfield. 

 Svenja Huth 

One of the few returning veterans we have. The 31-year-old typically snaps on the skipper's armband whenever Popp isn't on the pitch. Huth and Popp are the only two remaining German actors who have been with us since the beginning of this Sportsbook's women's coverage all the way back at the 2011 FWM.

At this stage in her career, she operates in Brand's position. Bookie has her starting in that attacking right-wing role. Best wishes for a successful tournament to our 66-cap-vet. She's still going very strong with a 23-scorer point campaign for club this year. 

 Linda Dallmann 

The former SGS Essen phenom sometimes features in the national team starting XI. Her performance stats since moving to Bayern (23 goals in 62 appearances) have been very solid. She's also netted four tallies and chipped in four assists for country this calendar year. 

Dallman finds herself directly in the logjam that is Voss-Tecklenburg's central midfield, battling Sara Däbritz, Lina Magull, and several strikers who can operate further back for a starting spot. It truly is one of those "Qual der Wahl" situations for our trainer in this section of the pitch. 

 Lena Oberdorf 

The bookie's tip to start in the holding midfielder/sweeper spot. Though she's still only 20-years-of-age, we'll need to rely upon this remarkably mature defensive midfielder to shore up our major weak spot. It's honestly not rely possible to build an XI without the Wolfsburg professional. She's critical to the success of this squad. 

From the moment she was subbed in during the 2019 FWM opening stage group match, all of us observers knew that we were dealing with a different class of player. Voss-Tecklenburg had the likes of Däbritz and Lena Gößling hold her hand for a while until she was prepared to shoulder her territory on her own. 

Now she's not only proven capable of doing so, but can also get her name on the scoresheet with intrepid box-to-box play. One assist and one tally for the national team this year. A further nine scorer-points for the She-Wolves in the club campaign. Man do we ever need her at the top of her game here. 

 Lina Magull 

With all the gripes about her use as a striker late in last year's tournament duly noted, the bookie is most pleased to see that our trainer has kept her in a stable and productive role in midfield, slanted left. She's been able to register five tallies for the national team this year from that position. 

In my lineup projection, her and Däbritz take the two buttressing midfielder slots above the preponderance of other qualified candidates. Magull barely edges out others thanks in large part to her strong club form (four goals, three assists) this year. 

 Sara Däbritz 

Experience again trumps potential with respect to Magull's projected midfield partner. The two 27-year-olds (with a combined 146 caps) work behind the striking trident. Most all of you will recall Däbritz from the splendid way in which she opened her national team account against Cote d'Ivoire in the 2015 FWM group stages. 

She's our big international club ringer; the one who went to PSG on a lucrative contract. After another spectacular season in Paris (11 goals and 18 assists across all competitions), she's now moving to Olympique Lyonnais on another blockbuster deal. Here's one of our vital linchpins. 

 Klara Bühl 

Regrettably, this attacking talent is the odd woman out. The now 21-year-old FCB striker has turned in 12 goals for the DFB-XI in the intervening three years, including five in the last 12 months. One would tip her to start had assurances not already been made to Popp. 

Twenty-two scorer points for club across all competitions this season means that it wouldn't surprise the bookie at all to see her get the nod over Lea Schüler. There's just simply more experience available from the player we're about to discuss. 

 Lea Schüller 

The stats simply edge Bühl out. Combining club and country, this immense talent has found the net 33 times in the past calendar year. The 24-year-old, now with a total of 25 international goals in just 39 caps for country, has already cemented her status as one of the all-time greats of this program. 

If she keeps fit, she'll break all sorts of records for club team FC Bayern München. Twenty-nine goals for the FCB in just two seasons. While Popp remains the "spiritual talisman", this one is the most important performance-based actor. 

We'll need a huge tourney from the current league-leading goal scorer. Just for fun, we'll let that German phrase roll off the tongue. Ahem. "Torschützenkönigin der FrauenBundesliga." Such a lovely language, no?

 Laura Freigang 

A very in-form striker who plies her trade over in the Rhein-Main metropolis. None of you will recognize the 24-year-old from tournaments past as she only got her first senior team call-up in 2020. Laura is one of those rare European footballers who went stateside for college.

Such cases continue to intrigue your friendly bookie as it's always interesting to see what the ones who deferred their professional career for a few years to seek extra development in US amateur athletics bring to the table. Would very much like to see the former Nittany Lion here, but I don't think there's room for her.

 Tabea Waßmuth 

With Popp out injured, this is the girl who has been carrying VfL Wolfsburg. The 25-year-old netted 24 goals across all competitions this year for the Autostädtlerin. This includes ten (yes, ten!) tallies in the 2021/22 Women's Champions league. Only Ballon d'or winner Alexia Putellas barely beat her. 

She's only earned 15 caps for country, however, meaning that she'll likely remain lower in Voss-Tecklenburg's pecking order. There's also been some injury concerns as of late. A shame that we might not get to see her at all. 

 Nicole Anyomi 

Bookie had to be a bit careful with the spelling here. No relation to former 1. FC Union Berlin striker Taiwo Awoniyi. Not even the same African country. The 22-year-old is of Ghanian and Togolese descent. 

Another SGE striker who has tallied four times and chipped in two assists in league play for die Adler this season. She's only been capped eight times for the Frauen and hasn't scored for us yet. 

The bookie saw her come off the bench a couple of times in WMQ fixtures and also got a chance to scout her in the most recent friendly. I became an immediate fan. Still doubtful we'll see the Given native here as she's got far too many ahead of her on the wings. 

 Projected Lineup (5-2-3) 


There's the build. To be perfectly candid, something about the assurances Voss-Tecklenburg has given to the veterans conjures up memories of how Jogi Löw approached the 2018 World Cup. Yikes. A pang hits the hearts of German footballing enthusiasts. Could have done without that. 

The sheer amount of speed in the lineup mostly allays fears that the link-up play might have trouble functioning. We're still likely to remain very susceptible on the counter in a group where such a vulnerability could spell doom. Double yikes. Negative premonitions surface again. 

Of course, it is mandatory for Germans to exhibit downcast emotions prior to a major tournament. That's our Schopenhaurian protection mechanism at work. We like to be pleasantly surprised, but make sure to build in a "told you so" narrative in the event of a catastrophic failure. 

Suppose I'll go ahead and get mine out of the way now. 

We're not topping this group. Period. 

Spain—“La Roja Feminia"

Jorge Vilda's new-look Spain drops a lot of familiar names. Not to worry as there remain plenty of exciting new introductions.

No more Vicky Losada (form), Marta Torreón (retired), Amanda Sampedro (also form), Silvia Meseguer (also, retired), Marta Corredera (Pregnancy leave), and Virginia Torrecillia (another form drop).

In a definite heartbreaking occurrence for all of us, Jennifer Hermoso will be unable to partake because of injury. The competition loses out on a very big presence there. 

In the absence of Hermoso, national team trainer Vilda actually maintains enough weapons to run a rather devastating 4-3-3. With a rotating cast of characters in the attacking trident, Vilda's crew steamrolled their way through qualifying undefeated. Like the English, they also ran up some ridiculous scorelines. 

Long-term syndicate readers know of the consistent hatred the bookie had for the tactical misfires of Vilda's predecessor Ignacio Quereda. Vilda engenders the exact polar opposite emotions. He's a real wizard at puzzling the pieces together. He's revamped his old 4-5-1 into an attack-minded constellation with real bite.

We'll get to that below, but not before honoring what has become a sacred syndicate tradition over the years. Whenever we discuss Spain, homage must be paid to the legend who ensured that football gamers everywhere would forever have access to women's teams on their consoles. 

"Vero" Boquette. 

Gone from these tourneys, but never, ever forgotten. A true credit to the game, this one. Anyone interested can still watch her play for her 16th club side (ACF Fiorentina) in the Women's Serie A. It never mattered to this pioneering hero how flimsy the women's league that wanted her. She always took the job. 

Miss you!

 The Talisman—Alexia Putellas 

Here she is, gentlemen. The Catalan who claimed all three major prizes this year: The best UEFA Women's Play, the best FIFA Women's Player, and the winner of just the third ever female Ballon d'or. It's all richly deserved. Forty-one goals and 23 assists across all competitions for club and country this year....from the midfield!

Yes, I'm terrified of her. This "Cruel Culé" could very easily hack us to pieces in the second group stage match. She certainly has enough gaping holes to sneak through. Note that the 28-year-old has been around for quite some time. We had her with us in 2013, 2015, and 2019 as well. She simply wasn't the "radar player" that she is now. 

Entering the 2019 tournament, her national team totals stood at 13 goals in 66 caps. As part of her later career form surge, she's doubled that total in the 33 appearances for country that have followed. Scintillating form took hold in 2020 and has not ceased. 

Who needs Hermoso when they have her?

  The Legends—


 Irene Paredes 

The captain returns for her fifth major tournament, now doing her club thing for Barça Ladies since 2021. Regular readers know that she's always been one of the bookie's personal faves. Hopefully she'll be fit in time to start. She's been struggling with muscular problems as of late and Vilda has been attempting to ease her back in. 

We've always made note of her relatively high scoring prowess for a center back. That has continued for her fourth club team. She got in five tallies for Barça Femeni this year. Always a threat off corners and set-pieces with her height. The team won't exude the same threat without her. 

 "Mapi" Leon 

Forever known to Syndicate -Ms as "the one with the throat tattoo", Paredes' natural central defensive partner is every bit as dangerous from dead-ball situations. She's as scary good might expect a player with an intimidating throat tattoo to be. Four goals and nine assists for club and country this year from Maria. 

If the two Barça teammates end up handling the ranks-closing ahead of whichever keeper Vilda opts to use, watch out. The actual first-choice net minder is being closely guarded, perhaps because the trainer has been working on some useful passing schemes involving the rear-axis triangle. 

 Mariona Caldentey 

Still a prolific attacker (six goals and six assists for club this season), even if the bookie feels as if her national team stats have been padded a bit and overall form will keep her out of a 4-4-2 that Vilda sometimes uses. 

We once heralded the 26-year-old as an emerging "superstar". In hindsight, that turned out to be hyperbolic. She could start. It's really a toss up. There will be no complaints if she does as I've personally always enjoyed watching her play. 

 Leila Ouahabi 


The starting left-back bombs up and down her flank to inflict maximum damage. She's recorded six assists this year for the national team in addition to netting three tallies for club. Alongside Paredes and Leon, Ouhabi ensures that three members of the back-four play for Barça. The well-acquainted trio work very well together. 

  The Next Gen—

 Lucia Garcia 

Again classified as a young developmental prospect because of her relatively young age, one of the phenoms from the previous major tournament should be a shoe-in for the starting XI. The 23-year-old operates primarily as a center-forward for Athletic Bilbao, but has a regular place on the right in Vilde's constellation.

Something of an off-year (twelve goals, four assists) by her relatively high standards. She has nevertheless rewarded Vilda's faith in her with a national team goal in WM qualifying and started both fixtures in the bookie's pre-tourney scout. 

 Patrica Guijarro 

One of the youngsters that has helped this team break through to an entirely new level. She really works well for Vilda slanted left. The now 24-year-old's totals for country stand at 10 goals in 45 caps. She proved something of an assist-mister in the WMQ campaign, registered four set-ups.  

 Aitana Bonmati 

A very capable young attacker whom the bookie also has in his projected XI. Yet another Barça club player on an absolute tear. She netted six tallies in the qualifying phase of this tournament and turned in another four in the World Cup qualifying round. Thirteen goals and seven assists for the 24-year-old playmaker in her latest club campaign. 

 Athenea del Castillo 

Three goals in the latest round of friendlies for this exciting 21-year-old prospect. A goal and two more assists in recent World Cup qualifiers. Some have her pencilled in for a starting role based on all of this. Bookie wouldn't be surprised. 

There were even a couple more of del Castillo's old teammates from the U19 and U18 youth squads that have enjoyed so much success recently (Amaiur Sarriegi and Salma Paralluelo) in the final squad who had to withdraw because of injury.

The state of this country's Junior program has never been better. 

 Projected Lineup (4-3-3) 


With three proven "string pullers" in midfield and three quality attackers up front, you can see why your friendly bookie fears the way this stacks up against his beloved Mädels. The only real potential nerve-reducer concerns the fact that Paredes might not start. I ultimately think she will and moreover think that the Spaniards can control possession out of the back. 

Very curious to see if Vilda starts either Caldentey, del Castillo, or maybe even this new kid Claudia Pina up front. There's an unpredictable nature to how the gaffer can build, giving me ever more cause for concern. There seems to be effectively zero chance that, like in tournaments past, this Spanish side shall end up boring us. 

Mark the bookies words on that last sentence. The "Furia" is definitely back in "La Roja". There's enough impact players here to help the squad punch through to the semis if everyone clicks. Shall Vilda's crew do so, it will be the farthest that they've progressed in this tournament in 25 years. 



Not exactly syndicate debutants as we covered them back in 2013. Germany's Nordic neighbor also partook in the 2017 tournament that the bookie shamelessly neglected to cover. 

They knocked my Mädels out in the quarterfinals of that competition and finished tournament runners up after dropping the Final to the Dutch.

It's not exactly easy to see them progressing out of this group, but it should be noted that head-coach Lars Søndergaard's crew did unexpectedly top their Euro qualifying bracket ahead of favorites Italy. 

They also finished atop their World Cup qualifying group. Both campaigns constituted huge successes. The girls only conceded one goal in each case. 

Some presently find themselves a bit down on the team after a poor showing in the recent Algarve Cup (a big Portuguese tournament that is by far the oldest on the continent). There's also some problems building the 3-4-3 that Søndergaard usually likes to operate in using the current selection. 

Your friendly bookie had mixed feelings about the pre-tournament scouts. I expected a bit more confident play from this squad after all that they've accomplished in the last two qualifying campaigns. Something seems broken, maybe even a little choppy. 

Perhaps they can get it together in time to resurrect what the other results suggest that they're capable of. There are a lot of returnees from the 2017 team; most of whom thrive in the new-coach's system. We'll also go out on a limb here and say that they have a sure-fire future female Ballon d'or winner. 


 The Talisman—Pernille Harder 

A sad day for German women's football when this ridiculously talented attacking ten left Wolfsburg for the Isle. Her FrauenBundesliga career featured 68 goals in 75 appearances. A beast in the Champions' League, her total tallies for the VfL across all competitions finished at 104 in 114 deployments. 

After recording her 67th goal for country last Autumn, she remains the highest Danish national team scorer (man or woman) ever. I could list her honors, but it would take too long. She's received over 25 "top player" trophies throughout her career, collecting them everywhere she goes. 

Only 24-years-of-age, one could say that she's basically just getting started. It simply must be the case that she'll become a household name and be remembered as one of the all-time greats. 

Her production numbers may not have kept pace since she moved to Chelsea. Honestly, who cares? She'll find her form eventually. Never bet against a player of this caliber. Anyone who's ever watched her play will agree that she effectively invents space out of thin air. 


 Simone Boye Sørensen 

A player we covered in FEM 2013 by virtue of her absence. The former Bayern München defender was once the pillar of this team. Now, after repeated struggles with injury, she may not feature at all in the back-three, with Stine Ballisager Pedersen getting the bulk of the starts. 

Rolling with the vice-captain anyway.

Call it a hunch.

 Katrine Vejsgaard Veje 

With all of the experimentation going on in the back-three, it remains exceedingly hard to discern what Søondergaard has in mind for his primary possession-building apparatus. Bookie goes with the 31-year-old vet who has accrued experience on both sides of the pond. 

The former Seattle Reign FC defender could also work as one of the wingbacks. Perhaps that governs the decision somewhat as well. A fluid player likely works best on the rear axis, particularly if an inverted pivot will be used. 

If one throws Everton's Rilke Sevecke on the opposite side, there's a synchronicity dynamic that could work well. Now that your friendly bookie has thrown himself far deeper into the tactical tweeds than was ever necessary, we can move on. 

 Sanne Troelsgaard Nielsen 

Another player whom we only mentioned as part of the hard-luck injury typhoon hit Kenneth-Heiner Miller's squad back in 2013. She's since become a staple of this program, racking up 166 caps for country. Only the great Katrine Pedersen has garnered more appearances. 

At 33-years-of-age, she's not been able to keep fit as consistently as she once did. Bookie still thinks she'll start as Søndergaard needs her experience on the track back. To emphasize again, I've probably spent way too much time thinking about this team.

 Sofie Junge Pedersen 

Troelsgaard's projected midfield partner. Another hard-nosed vet. The 30-year-old belongs to the cohort of trailblazing female footballers--like Barbara Bonaansea, Sara Gama, Lineth Bereenstyn, and Tuija Hyyrynen--who took the Italian Women's Serie A by storm with Juventus Ladies. In the bookie's opinion, the right kind of defensive midfielder to work ahead of the back-three.

 Kathrine Møller Kühl 

If one happens to see this teenager in the starting XI, it's absolutely worth your time to keep a close scouting eye on her. The FC Nordsjaelland could be the next Pernille Harder. Whether or not her trainer deems that her time has come, we should be talking about this spry little trap-springer in the years ahead. Nothing but glowing reviews for her everywhere you look. 

 Stine Larsen 

A former Aston Willa forward whom, after some consideration, the bookie slides in on the right-hand-side of the attacking triumvirate. She's evidently regained some of her form over in the Swedish League since the bust that was her stay on the Isle. Eight club goals this year for the 26-year-old. Twenty-one goals in 62 caps for country.

 Signe Kallesøe Brunn 

Apart from Harder, the most recognizable face on this team. The Lyon center-forward has also featured for PSG and spent the most recent season on loan at Man United. A pretty underwhelming club campaign, but she still has 15 national team goals to her credit. As much experimentation as Søondergaard engages in, she's always up top center in the penalty area.

 Nadia Nadim 

At long last we arrive at a familiar face. Syndicate members will recognize the Afghan heritage striker from the 2013 tournament. Stateside followers also know the name. The now 34-year-old put in her time with Sky Blue FC and the Portland Thorns. She's presently back across the pond for her third NWSL stint with Racing Louisville. 

As her current club campaign illustrates, the former PSG and Man City striker still knows how to find the back of the net. We'll likely see her stride onto the pitch for the final half-hour in all group stage matches here whenever Søndergaard needs a late push.

Thirty-eight national team goals for the women who recently commemorated her 100th cap. Also the team's most reliable-ever penalty taker. She'll most assuredly get subbed in should any knockout round fixtures enter extra time. 

 Projected Lineup (3-4-3) 

A very interesting build this one. Søndergaard has literally been all over the place trying out different personnel choices in the friendlies. His 3-4-3 has been consistent and that's about it. Beginning at the back, I'll go with Simon Boye on an inverted pivot since things haven't been working out terribly well with Stine  Ballisager in the role. 

Veje and Svekke probably complete the back-three. At least that's what makes sense to be. We've seen the Holmgaard twins tried out there. Sometimes one. Other times both. Regarding the midfield, it doesn't look like Kühl's quite ready. Bookie thus taps the two veterans to keep things under wraps. 

The Holmgaard twins have also been tried out in the wingback roles. So too have Ballisager and Sara Thrice. I'll stick with what works there. At least the attack remains fairly straightforward. Nadim has worked up there. Rilke Madsen as well. The intended trio nevertheless remains clear.  


The bottom-ranked team in the group aren't syndicate debutants either. On the contrary, all of you know that the women's program of these Russo-Nordics happens to be something that your friendly bookie never could shut up about.

Sigh. We run into some problems here. The tone/voice of this final syndicate chapter deliberately seeks to jettison some of the more puerile elements from the past. 

As exhausting as such a directed effort can be, the author may have met his match in--you guessed it--a section that must acknowledge the presence of Tuija Hyyrynen.

Whatever are we to do brothers? How can one focus on the football when the one who melts one's heart is a part of it? At the very least we'll have to publish the picture; the infamous one; the one that compels all of us to brutally cut out our hearts with a dull soup spoon.

Yes, she's here. 

Yes, she'll start. 

More on that below.

We need to talk of other things too. 

The Boreal owls have decent record in this tournament, progressing to the knockouts twice in their last three tries. Those glory days are regrettably in the rear view. No one remains from the 2005 semi-finals squad or the 2009 hosting side that punched through to the quarters. 

The group stage exit in 2013, along with the failure to qualify for the expanded field in 2017, has kept the program off practically everyone's radar. They did qualify for this tourney in late, dramatic, and confidence-boosting fashion. 

That matters little as head-coach Anna Signeul's static 4-4-2 proves far too easy a code to crack. Albeit, the Swedish trainer didn't use many of her regulars in the bookie's lone pre-tournament scout. They still looked awful against Japan. One of their key actors even scored an own-goal. 


Let's examine.

 The Talisman—Tuija Hyyrynen 



Okay. We have to get her out of the way first. Look. The bookie simply likes the 34-year-old, second only to central defender Anna Westerlund in the current squad's all-time cap race. Of course, she's a fullback in addition to being stunningly beautiful. That plays a role as well. 

The long-time Juventus professional has now racked up 119 caps for country and approaches the century mark in appearance for club. She's one of the hard-working players in this sport that the chronicler feels more should know about. 

The Italian Women's Serie A receives far too little coverage domestically and internationally. I admire all players who make the move to this under appreciated league and stick with it. We'll officially retire the more superficial footballing crush this time.

Not feeling low that I missed this session. I've no questions for her. Now, if you'll excuse the bookie, he'll retreat to a life of solitary, self-flagellating penance in a secluded monastery somewhere. Guided meditation whilst living under a tree for a year and not speaking to anyone. It's over. 


 Natalia Kuikka 

What passes for a "big-time ringer" on this team. The 26-year-old--currently of the Portland Thorns--has amassed 63 caps in an international career that began late following her decision to attend university in the States. She's the center-halve with an amazing aerial prowess for her comparatively diminutive stature.

Three times honored with her country's "female footballer of the year" award, she's also the lone Finn to regularly crack many of the "watch lists" published in scouting publications. A very important figure for this team on both sides of the ball. 

 Emmi Alanen 

The veteran half of the midfield "double-six" duo. Behind striker Linda Sällström, she's presently the second-leading scorer on this team. Twenty-one national team goals in 91 caps for the 31-year-old. Some may recall her from the 2013 tournament, in which she made some eye-catching moves. 

 Eveliina Summanen 

Alanaen's younger midfield partner. This 24-year-old got snatched up by Spurs this year after registering some important tallies for country in friendlies and the qualifying campaigns.  An interesting little rover who doesn't neglect her defensive duties. 

 Adelina Engman 

Either the second forward or a supporting winger in Signeul's constellation. Bookie will go with the latter in his projection below. For some, the name might ring a bell after her club stints with Chelsea and Montpellier. She's been with this team for awhile, netting 11 goals in 81 caps. 

 Linda Sällström 

The target forward whom has been kicking for this team since 2007. She was a big miss for them back in 2013 after shooting them into the tournament with a brilliant qualifying campaign. The 33-year-old now has a three-year-stint with Paris FC on her CV as well.

She moved back to the Swedish league this year and registered four scorer-points in 11 appearances. Four goals for country in the last 12 months. A very impressive 50 total tallies in 115 caps for the nation.

 Tina-Riikka Korpela 


The keeper and captain. German fans know her as the FC Bayern #1 between the sticks between 2014 and 2017. Since then, the now 36-year-old has worked over at Valerenga, Everton, and Tottenham. It's at least a positive thing to know that this team has an ice-veined veteran guarding the goalmouth. She's going to get peppered quite a bit.

 Projected Lineup (4-4-2) 

Piecing this 4-4-2 together, taking special care to see how it stacked up against the Danes, I was interested to learn that the Finns have actually shared the group with their near Scandinavian neighbors in all three Euros that they qualified for. Even more interestingly, the Russo-Nordics have won two of the three meetings. 

How coincidental that these two countries keep getting drawn into the same group. How even weirder that the Finns generally keep winning whenever they square off. Everyone recall last summer? That small matter of Cristian Eriksen's cardiac arrest on the second day of the men's Euros? It's almost as if there's some sort of curse. 

Thankfully, there is no such thing as either a curse or a "bogey team". Bookie doesn't see the Owls challenging the Danes or indeed anyone else in the group. The latest front two-striker set--with Franssi taking over the top axis while Öling moves back to buttress--looks to be Signeul's lone trick for the tournament. 

It won't work. 

Bottom of the group. 


Vicey’s Fearless Group Prediction (2 to 1 Odds for bookie)

 1) Spain   

 2) Deutschland

 3) Denmark

 4) Finland

Overall Championship Odds

 Spain (Straight Up)

 Deutschland (NO BETS)

 Denmark (10 to 1)

 Finland (18 to 1)

Quarterfinal Odds

 Spain (NO BETS)

 Deutschland (NO BETS)

 Denmark (Straight Up)

 Finland (4 to 1)

Semifinal Odds

 Spain (NO BETS)

 Deutschland (NO BETS)

 Denmark (4 to 1)

 Finland (10 to 1)