England take on Austria in the first match of Euro 2022 at Old Trafford on Wednesday night.
Here, the PA news agency takes a look at some of the talking points ahead of the Lionesses’ opening fixture.
Beginning with a bang
A capacity 74,120 crowd is expected on Wednesday, just over a year after the stadium hosted its first ever women’s football match. It will be a flagship moment for the sport in England, as the 2005 edition of the tournament – the last to be held in the country – boasted a highest crowd of less than 30,000. Expectations of big crowds are high, with over 500,000 tickets sold, more than double the 2017 edition.
— ÖFB – oefb.at (@oefb1904) July 4, 2022
England played Austria in a World Cup qualifier last November, running out 1-0 winners thanks to an Ellen White goal at the Stadium of Light. The home side will be hoping to kickstart their tournament with another victory at a packed Old Trafford.
— Arsenal Women (@ArsenalWFC) July 5, 2022
Austria made their debut at the 2017 Euros in the Netherlands and surprised many by reaching the semi-finals. But they will face a tough challenge to get out of their group which also features Norway this time round. Austria’s squad boasts Women’s Super League experience in the form of Arsenal goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger and club-mate Laura Wienroither, as well as captain Viktoria Schnaderbeck, who left the Gunners this summer after spending the second half of last season on loan at Tottenham.
The form of Ellen White up front will be key to Sarina Wiegman’s side’s hopes of progressing far in the tournament. The Lionesses’ record scorer with 50 goals had a disrupted build-up after contracting coronavirus but has recovered in time for Wednesday’s match and will be out to add to her international tally.
In the dug-out
Having reached the Euros final twice before, in 1984 and 2009, the Lionesses will be hoping to go one better this time under the guidance of Wiegman, who guided her native Netherlands to European Championship glory in 2017 and the World Cup final two years later. Under Wiegman, England are unbeaten in 14 matches, winning 12 and scoring 84 goals to just three conceded. Austria manager Irene Fuhrmann has been involved in the national set-up since retiring from playing in 2008, taking the top job in 2020. She is the first woman to hold the position.