Euro 2022: South Yorkshire grounds given starring role in European Championships

The Netherlands, Sweden, France, Italy, Russia and Iceland will all play in South Yorkshire in next summer’s European Championships and England could too after the draw for the delayed tournament was made in Manchester yesterday.

Group A, England head coach Sarina Wiegman (left) and Norway head coach Martin Sjogren during the UEFA Women's Euro 2022 draw at O2 Victoria Warehouse, Manchester. Picture: Nick Potts/PA

Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane and Rotherham United’s New York Stadium are each due to hold three group matches in the tournament, delayed by 12 months because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Both have been handed attractive opening ties.

Rotherham will stage a quarter-final, whilst their neighbours will also host the first semi-final, which the Lionesses could be in if they can win a group featuring Norway, Austria and Northern Ireland.

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The competition finally gets going in Yorkshire on July 9 with a meeting between the fourth and second-ranked teams in the world as holders the Netherlands face Sweden at the home of the Blades.

WE'LL MEET AGAIN: Group A, left to right, Austria head coach Irene Fuhrmann, Northern Ireland head coach Kenny Shiels, Norway head coach Martin Sjogren and England head coach Sarina Wiegman during the UEFA Women's Euro 2022 draw at O2 Victoria Warehouse, Manchester. Picture: Nick Potts/PA

The Dutch were also runners-up at the last World Cup under Sarina Wiegman, who took over as England coach after this summer’s Olympics. Sweden won silver in Tokyo, and finished third at the last World Cup, in 2019. Russia play Sweden (July 13) and the Netherlands (July 17) in the other matches played in Sheffield. Switzerland are the other team in Group C.

Neither France nor Italy, who meet in Rotherham on July 10, have won a major tournament but Les Bleues are fifth in the latest FIFA rankings.

Iceland play both teams in the other games at the New York Stadium – Italy on July 14, France four days later. Belgium complete Group D.

The winners of that group will play the runners-up in Group C in the Rotherham quarter-final on July 23 for the right to progress to the second semi-final, in Milton Keynes.

Norway, runners-up in two of the last five European Championships and semi-finalists in another two, are the big hitters in England’s group. The sides will meet at Brighton and Hove Albion on July 11.

The tournament begins with England v Austria at Old Trafford, and the Lionesses play their final group game against Kenny Shiels’s tournament debutants Northern Ireland in Southampton on July 15.

England won last week’s World Cup qualifier between the sides 4-0 on Saturday.

If England can win their group they will return to Brighton to face the runners-up in Group B, which is made up of Germany, Denmark, Spain and Finland. Finish second and they will head to Brentford for their quarter-final.

Even though England are yet to win a major tournament, home advantage means Europe’s fifth-ranked will be highly-fancied to be involved in the July 31 final at Wembley Stadium after starting life under Wiegman by scoring 32 goals without reply in four World Cup qualifiers.

“I think the pressure is there, being the home nation, but it’s only what you perceive it to be,” said Lucy Bronze.

“We can look at it like, ‘There are going to be so many more eyes on us’ but equally, there are so many more eyes supporting us as well.

“So we have that 12th person in the stadium, supporting us. Arguably, no nation is going to have the same as us.

“We’ve developed a lot, certainly since I’ve been involved. We’ve reached semi-finals of Euros, of World Cups.

“This team now has that experience of getting a little bit further.

“We just need that little push to get to the end.”