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Sarina Wiegman, England's head coach, emphasised the significance of a winning start as the hosts' hugely anticipated Euros campaign kicked off with a slender but valuable victory over Austria in front of a competition-record crowd of 68,871 at Old Trafford
Bidding to win their first major international trophy, England notched up a seventh consecutive win thanks to Arsenal forward Beth Mead's early goal but the relatively nervy nature of their victory will not have struck fear into their strongest European rivals.
England were below their best. In tournament football, though, victories are a priceless currency and Wiegman, who lifted the title five years ago with her home country, Netherlands, said: "The first game in a tournament, it's so important to win.
"A good start helps, it gives confidence to the team. We also had some hard moments in the game and we got through."
What will have made the rest of the continent sit up and take notice was the vastness of the home support. The cacophony of noise provided an atmosphere not seen here for a women’s football fixture since the 2012 Olympics, and the intensity felt worlds apart from the 2005 Euros, the last time England hosted. The build-up of eager fans outside the stadium several hours before kick-off gave an early hint of the excitable mood, the team bus was greeted with real fervour by deep lines of waiting supporters, and the sold-out crowd obliterated the competition’s previous largest attendance, when 41,301 watched the 2013 final in Sweden.
"Incredible, there are no more words, it’s just unbelievable," a rather awe-struck Wiegman added about the crowd, while match-winner Mead described the occasion as "beyond words". Mead said the celebrations post-match were so loud she could not hear Wiegman's team talk in their huddle on the pitch, adding: "What an amazing night to start the tournament."
Organisers are hoping this will set the tone for a record-breaking summer for the sport, with more than 520,000 tickets understood to have been sold so far across the tournament and Wembley similarly sold out for the final. That showpiece on July 31 is one the hosts will be desperate to be part of, and one they will deep down know they must reach if they are to capitalise on this once-in-a-generation opportunity. And that target is the obvious footballing one too, after their encouraging - but ultimately agonising - run of reaching the past three consecutive major semi-finals.
Yet this Lionesses team, tipped by large swathes of pundits as favourites for the title along with Spain and Olympic finalists Sweden, feel very different to the team that finished fourth at the 2019 World Cup. Their mentality has been transformed in the past 10 months and they arrived at this tournament on a 14-match unbeaten run since Wiegman took charge last September, in great contrast to their poor form of nine defeats in their previous 14 prior to her arrival. The majority of those games have come against relatively weak opposition in World Cup qualifying, a process they are cruising through, although they only edged past Austria 1-0 at the Stadium of Light in November. A more convincing victory was desired this time.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) July 6, 2022
The hosts began somewhat sloppily in the opening few minutes, with skipper Leah Williamson conceding possession on the edge of her own penalty area in the early moments amidst a relentless racket of noise emanating from the stands, but the 2017 semi-finalists Austria were unable to take advantage.
Wiegman’s team’s nerves were settled when Mead controlled Fran Kirby's ball and cleverly placed it up, over and beyond her Arsenal team-mate Manuela Zinsberger in the Austria goal to score the opener, which was awarded thanks to the aid of goal-line technology. Mead’s 15th England goal of the season bounced off the underside of the crossbar and can hardly have been more than a toe’s width beyond the line.
With a fully-fit squad available, Wiegman’s biggest selection decision had been where to play her captain, Williamson, who has spent the majority of the manager’s tenure playing in midfield but is more naturally a centre-half. The head coach opted to drop the 25-year-old from Milton Keynes into her backline meaning that Alex Greenwood was sacrificed, and the Manchester City defender’s calmness in possession was missed.
If England are to go all the way and win this competition, they undoubtedly need to improve on this mixed first-half display, but a theme of their recent results has been their formidable second-half performances. And with just under half-an-hour to play, Wiegman deployed a triple change, bringing on Manchester United duo Alessia Russo and Ella Toone, along with Manchester City winger Chloe Kelly, and all three provided an immediate impact, springboarding England's best spell of the contest, forcing a succession of corners and seeing pacey left winger Lauren Hemp fizz an effort over the bar.
Yet Austria responded and Mary Earps was forced into an impressive, diving save low to her left to palm Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder Barbara Dunst's well-struck long-range effort past the post.
England Earps, Bronze, Bright, Williamson, Daly, Stanway, Walsh, Kirby (Toone 63), Mead (Kelly 63), Hemp,W hite (Russo 64).
Subs not used Hampton, Roebuck, Carter, England, Greenwood, Parris, Scott, Stokes, Wubben-Moy.
Austria Zinsberger, Wienroither, Wenninger, Schnaderbeck (Georgieva 77), Hanshaw, Puntigam, Dunst, Zadrazil, Feiersinger (Hobinger 87), Naschenweng (Hickelsberger-Fuller 59), Billa.
Subs not used Pal, Kresche, Degen, Eder, Enzinger, Makas, Schiechtl, Schasching, Kirchberger.
Referee Marta Huerta Da Aza (Spain).
England v Austria: as it happened
Thanks for following along
Tom Garry's report from Old Trafford is now above the line, and you can find Fiona Tomas' player ratings here.
We'll be covering many more Euro 2022 matches, so keep your eyes peeled for more build-up and coverage soon.
Sarina Wiegman, straining to hear the questions over the happy noise of the crowd
England manager Sarina Wiegman is happy with her #Lionesses following their win over Austria, but still says there is room for improvement.
📱💻🖥 Live on @BBCTwo, @BBCiPlayer, @BBCSounds and the @BBCSport app now. #BBCFootball #BBCEuros #WEURO2022
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) July 6, 2022
From Fiona Tomas at Old Trafford
The cameras panned to Sarina Wiegman after the final whistle and the look on the England manager's face was one of relief, rather than elation. Is that how she expected her side's Euros opener would play out? It was far from a convincing performance from England, who have been scoring goals for fun under her tenure. But credit to Austria, who were unfazed by the big occasion. The visitors enjoyed 40 percent of the possession and looked like they would make something of their opportunities. They were well-drilled defensively and repeatedly swarmed the likes of Lauren Hemp, who had a mixed night.
This match bore all the hallmarks of a cagey opening match at a major tournament. From an England perspective, a win is a win, but they will need to up the tempo if they are going to live up to the hype and live up to their status as Euros favourites.
Leah Williamson on the atmosphere
What an occasion. The fans came out, and I think they connected with us really well.
I had no idea what to expect, but it was special. I think everybody embraced it.
I kept my eyes closed during the national anthem. I think if I had looked at my mum, I would have started crying, if I had got to involved in it - so I kept it at bay, and just focused on the football.
This is the longest unbeaten run in the Lionesses' history
Since Wiegman took over, England haven't lost a match, and that tally rises to a record 15 matches unbeaten.
With great progress, a minor inconvenience
Things you don't usually see at Old Trafford: a queue for the ladies'. This one snaked back some 50 metres... pic.twitter.com/0QkPNLtI94
— Fiona Tomas (@fi_tomas_) July 6, 2022
The Lionesses are still on the pitch
Soaking up that phenomenal atmosphere, dancing to the music, and listening to the roar of the crowd: only about two-thirds of fans have left.
Beth Mead speaks, in full:
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) July 6, 2022
Beth Mead on the atmosphere
It's so loud we couldn't hear [Sarina Wiegman's post-match comments], and we were all into Sweet Caroline, so we'll probably have a debrief in the dressing room!
All of the fans have stayed in their seats, and are cheering the team off the pitch. Mead looks delighted and overwhelmed by the noise - what an incredible start to their campaign.
Great game management
towards the end from England, who weren't entirely comfortable throughout. But winning is what counts, and England could keep a cool head and draw upon energetic substitutes to assure the victory.
Full time: 90 +2 mins
Kelly sends the ball to Toone, but she is dispossessed. Williamson stops Austria from mounting an attack in the dying minutes, passing back to Earps.
Then the whistle blows - and England have won the first game of their campaign.
90 +1 min
Free kick for Austria, off very little from Russo against Wenninger, and all of Austria head up the field. England defend well, but Daly is muscled to the ground in the defensive melee. England's time to send the ball up field, this time to Kelly.
Two minutes of added time to go.
A long kick down to Hickelsberger-Fuller is then squandered when there's no one waiting on the edge of the England box. Williamson can scoop it up and send the ball up field. Bronze directs play to the middle, before it comes back to Williamson.
Walsh finds Hemp, who finds Bronze, looking to set up Stanway, but wires get crossed and the ball weakly dribbles out.
Great save for Earps. Hickelsberger-Fuller has the opportunity for a close range strike which she kicks cleanly, and Earps is forced into a dive to smother the ball. Austria get another shot, but are denied again.
Then it's Kelly on the run, coming up the left hand side but running out of pitch under pressure from the Austria defenders.
Corner on the right for England taken by Kelly, short to Toone, but Zinsberger saves the attempt from further out.
An injury for Austria, as Feiersinger lies on the ground, not looking comfortable after battling with Toone. She is replaced by Hobinger.
Brights picks off the ball, sending it to Daly, before seeking a different angle. Williamson sets up Daly, who sends the ball sliding to Stanway. Stanway can set up Kelly, but she is swarmed Wienrothier, and more of her compatriots join her to keep Kelly off the ball.
Another chance now, from Russo, who comes running in from the right. She shoots from the right edge of the box, forcing Zinsberger into a save which yields a corner.
Zadrazil drives the ball towards the area, seeking Billa, who eventually gets a strike, but Williamson can clear the ball after multiple England and Austria players has fallen scuffling for it.
Then, a breaking run from Hemp, who leads a one-woman army up the field and sends the ball flying in to Zinsberger, but it's underpowered and under pressure, not troubling the Austrians for long.
Walsh sends the ball high up the field with Russo gamely chasing the ball even as it seems destined to end up with Austria.
Georgieva fouls Russo, still gunning for the ball, and England get a free kick which flies to Bronze. Bronze is kept up by the Austrian defence, and England win a throw-in on the left in Austria's half.
Substitute for Austria, Georgieva coming on for Schnaderbeck, the captain. Hopefully not due to injury, as Schnaderbeck had been doing some energetic containing of White.
Earps is forced to her first save of the night after Dunst sends in a swinging ball destined for the bottom right corner.
Daly keeps out a long throw-in for Austria, but England must defend the next. Walsh takes up the ball, and sends it to Kelly, but then England break, Kelly getting the ball back just over the centre-half, and she goes full pelt towards the goal. The strike she sends in is saved by Zinsberger, but not without effort.
Wienrothier crosses in from the right to the box, but Bright is there to firmly deny Austria's chances. Hemp attempts to pick up a ball sent long in front of her, but she loses the race to a waiting Austrian defender.
Hickelsberger-Fuller is tackled by Daly close to the right corner flag in the England half, and now it's Austria with the free-kick. Hanshaw takes it, and Bright keeps it out. That's practically an auto-fill for this blogger, of late.
Wienroither rolls over Kelly, and England have a free-kick in an advantageous area, just left a little before the penalty box. Hemp sends it to Russo, and it lands on her extended boot, but she crumples, not able to strike it cleanly, and falls to the ground. Austria keeps out her final poke at the ball.
Hemp picks up a long, flying pass, and runs with purpose to cross in Kelly, but it's too much of a good thing, and it goes flying past the box.
Another corner attempt, which Kelly takes again, this time sent into the box. It's bundled out to Daly, who gets a chance to float the ball back in, but it ends up smoothly in Zinsberger's gloves.
Hemp goes flying up the left, looking for Russo for support, but she can't find a cross before Wenninger blocks off the assault. England win the corner, which Kelly takes, short out to Stanway, but the attempt that flies in is blocked.
Immediately, Russo is gunning for goal, sprinting through the box only to be denied by the Austrian defence. Kelly picks it up the deflection, but there's little space. Austria gain possession, and Hickelsberger-Fuller spearheads the attack.
England can keep the Austrians at bay, and Hemp tries to set up Toone further up the field, but to no avail.
An Austrian throw-in is picked off by England, and England take a pause to work out how to muddle through the sticky Austrian midfield. Daly is fouled by Zadrazil in front of Wiegman, and it's time for substitutes:
On comes Toone, Kelly, and Russo, for Kirby, Mead, and White. Strong and fresh attacking options for England.
A clumsy tackle from Hickelsberger-Fuller on the first touch. Stanway on the run now, sends to Daly, who picks out Hemp in the left-hand top corner, who is then floored by an Austrian defender. A throw-in is given.
Naschenweg breaks loose in the England box, and sends in a strike which looks a good chance, but it goes wide and loops past the goal.
Daly sets up Kirby, who jostles with Wenninger, fighting all the way to the high left hand corner, but England lose a corner to a goal kick. Walsh seems to half time to send a perfectly weighted pass up the field, which Stanway strikes but it goes just wide.
Naschenweng off, Hickelsberger-Fuller on.
A loose ball from Wienroither looks to cause trouble as Hemp bears down on Austria, but Dunst helps plug up the defence and move Austria from danger.
England have momentum now, with Bronze the next player to run down the flanks and turn to move the shot into the box. It glances off an Austrian defender, but a goal kick is awarded, which smarts. Little comes from it, however, with White keeping up the press to force a throw-in.
A chance for England, if underpowered, as Kirby takes a shot from the edge of the box which is on target, but Zinsberger can collect the ball and does so. Austria re-fire, and again, its Bright providing the final line of defence.
Hemp takes off from Daly, but Wienrothier blocks her and forces a reset.
Austria certainly haven't been deflated by falling behind, going for attack after attack. Then Zadrazil loses possession, and England take their chance.
Walsh passes low and straight to Hemp, who has a sprinting run in, waiting for White in the box, but she's covered in defenders. Hemps cuts back, but can't get in.
White passes back, Walsh has to fight off Austria, but they spring forward, Billa lurking in the box to collect a cross in, but England block off play for a corner. Billa is the intended recipient of the looping shot again, but Bright keeps the ball at bay.
Second half: 45 mins
England start off with possession, keen to assert dominance. But within moments, Weinroithier goes for Kirby, taking possession back with a stamp on the foot that brings Kirby to the ground and sets up a quick free-kick for England. Little comes of it, and England reset.
Ghost goals no more, thanks to VAR
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) July 6, 2022
The score line does flatter England somewhat, who have at times seemed unprepared for the romping attack of Austria. They have been a touch wasteful too, having had some fantastic chances - Hemp will be ruing the opportunity to go 2-0 just before the break. But there are positives: Bronze, Hemp and Stanway are particularly strong, and Bright has been supercharged in defence.
45 +1 mins
What a chance from Hemp! A spin from White gives her room to send the ball in to Hemp, who takes a touch before powering the ball at the net. Zinsberger has to work hard but she makes the save.
England corner to round off the half. Corner taken short and sent to Kirby, who plays a lovely directional shot into the box. It looks like another fine chance, but there's no perfect finisher, and the ball is strong-armed out.
Whistle blows - that's half-time.
Stanway sneaks possession from an attack led by Naschenweng, and sends the ball back up the field towards Austria's penalty area.
Bronze crosses to White, but Wenninger leaps to take the ball into Austrian hands.
1 minute of extra time.
Feiersinger is given too much time to turn, and can send in a cross to Naschenweng, can't get a handle on it in the face of Bright, again defending with a towering presence. The ball flies out to be chanced in again, but it flies over the cross bar.
On the counter, Walsh moves the ball up the pitch well to send the ball to Hemp, who feints backwards to swing in a ball which could have been helped into goal by White, but Zinsberger can keep things under control.
Bronze joins up with Hemp, who snakes past Hanshaw high up the pitch. Her speed is mesmerising. She tries to sneak a cross into the box, but unfortunately the ball deflects out for a goal kick.
Bronze goes on another barnstorming run down the right, but a number of Austrian players descend on her to stop her in her tracks. Confusingly, the ball goes out for an Austrian throw-in, which Bronze stops Hanshaw from making too closer to the centre line. Austria don't profit from the play.
Wenninger sends an ominous ball into the England box, but White is there to cover up an opportunity for an Austrian head. Bronze is unpicked going up the field, and Austria regain possession. After Zadrazil finds no luck wading through midfield, the ball is sent back for a reset.
There's failure to capitalise on a throw-in on the right side in the England half, England closing down any chance and the ball going out for an England throw-in.
Bronze passes to Kirby, who sends it into the box but can't find support, so clogged is it with Austria defenders. Hemp is waiting to be set up by Bronze on the second attempt, but the ball glances into Zinsberger's hands.
Update from Fiona Tomas at Old Trafford
Ellen White had a glorious opportunity to double England's lead just then. Lauren Hemp practically put the ball on a plate for her with one of her pin-point deliveries into the penalty area. On another day the Man City striker would have easily put that away.
t's worth remembering a lot of these players will never have played in front of a crowd of this size before - there's a deafening noise every time they penetrate the penalty area. So far, the occasion doesn't seem to be getting to the Lionesses.
Schnaderbeck is patrolling the Austrian defence, but there's no such control over Hemp, regularly infuriating on the left wing. Wanting to take some sting out of the Austrian press, Williamson resets at the back.
White keeps the press high, dribbling into the box, but she swerves and reroutes, England regrouping. Kirby is tipped out of possession, but moments later, England get teh chance to repay the favour. This time, Bright passes the ball back to Earps, who sends it out to Bronze.
Up the field, Kirby sets up Mead down the left wing, but the ball is kicked out of play by the Austrian defence.
Williamson sends the ball out to Mead, who aims for White, but Schnaderbeck, the Austrian captain, lately of Tottenham, is all over her, and keeps the ball out of England's paws.
Bronze goes on a terrific run, scything through the midfield, before passing off to a waiting Hemp on the left, but Wienroither nicks England's ball, and it's Austria who unfurl themselves now. Zadrazil comes up, looking dangerous, and England have to scramble to keep the ball out for a corner.
Naschenweng sends in a looping ball but Bronze leaps to neutralise the shot.
Beth Mead's goal
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) July 6, 2022
Kirby gets involved, for the first time in the match, feeding the ball to Hemp, who crosses to White - perfectly placed - but her strike goes wide. Sarina Wiegman can scarcely believe it, and neither can the crowd.
Throw-in from the right for England, and its sent back down to midfield and Bright, who passes off to Bronze, who flicks it to Mead, who goes on a run into the box, but the ball is bundled out by the Austrian defence.
From Luke Edwards at Old Trafford
There has not been the same attention on Beth Mead as there has been on Lauren Hemp heading into this tournament but that was her 15th goal for England under Sarina Wiegman! She is rapidly becoming one of England's most important players. Lovely finish to lift the ball over the goalkeeper too.
Lauren Hemp scurries up the left wing, seeking a waiting Ellen White in the box, but it takes an Austrian deflection and runs out for a corner. Hemp takes it, and Bright gets a head to it, before sending it to Bronze. The ball falls just in front of goal, and Hemp swipes for it, but Zinsberger's defenders keep the ball away from danger.
The wind has been taken out of Austria's sails somewhat, after a feisty start.
Here comes VAR
Blessedly, VAR is part of Euro 2022. There are a hairy few moments, but England can celebrate when the goal stands.
Memorable territory for supporters of England! After looking cagey, it's England that have gone ahead after a wonderful finish by Beth Mead which goes way over Austrian heads to land just over the line.
But over the line it goes, and England are 1-0 up!
England has a tricky moment when Austria mounts another attack, getting into the box and leaving Bright to absorb the pressure, with the help of Mary Earps, who keeps the shot under wraps.
Zadradzil mounts another run, and even when the ball falls into England's hands, Austria are buzzing around.
But then England get a break, Stanway scooping up the ball in front of the box and going on a terrific run that sees her on the edge of the area. She looks for White, but the pass is deflected.
Update from Luke Edwards at Old Trafford
England have not started well. Lots of mistakes and loose passes. Keira Walsh, Leah Williamson and Lucy Bronze have all lost possession cheaply.
The England captain managing to pass the ball straight to Austria's number nine. In attack, Lauren Hemp was one on one with the last defender, but a poor first touch gave the ball to a relieved defender.
Bronze finds Stanway, who is denied on the edge of the area, but it goes back to Bronze, who can refeed the ball into box. When Austria keep them out, Hemp gets another chance off a Bronze ball in from the right, but with a little nudge, Wenninger pushes the forward out of position, and moves Austria out of danger.
Daly tries to push up the pitch, but Austria, brave and bunchy around midfield, are keeping England from joined up attack. Hemp receives a fantastic pass from Bright by the left corner, and sends the ball in for White to head in, but she can't get sufficient power on it, and Zinsberger can collect it easily.
Update from Fiona Tomas at Old Trafford
England look lively on the counter but their defensive frailties were exposed when Austria poured forward in the opening five minutes. Some sloppy play from Leah Williamson, who gave away the ball cheaply in a dangerous area, could have cost them. Remember, though, the Lionesses have conceded just three times in 14 matches under Sarina Wiegman. On paper, they should be tough to break down.
Bronze is victim of a one-two punch, and Feiersinger takes charge, running down the left. Hanshaw is overturned by Mead, covering well, and appeals for a foul, but instead, England win a goal kick.
Stanway loses the ball to Feiersinger, very punchy in the opening minutes, but the ball is muscled out for an Austrian throw.
Walsh has her pocket picked by Zadrazil, who goes in on a tilted run at England's box. Zadrazil, from Bayern, is one to watch. Austria get a corner, taken by Hanshaw, but Bright gets a terrific header and England break away for a counter. Hemp gets going but runs out of options. The ball is paddled back, and Bright sets up a long cross in to Hemp, but it flies out of play.
Feiesinger goes for the run but is blocked early in the England half. Fran Kirby receives a pass, but is unsupported. Stanway has an attempt, but it flies out for a goal kick.
Hemp overturns Austrian possession, aided by Daly, and win a free kick in a promising area. Zinsberger frantically arranges the players as the ball is whipped towards goal, with Bronze lying in wait by the far post, but Zinsberger can bundle up the ball with ease.
Austria kick off and mount an all-black run into England's half, catching England off guard somewhat. But England can clear. It ends up in Austrian hands, the ball passed to Zinsberger to reset.
Players break from their huddles
The Euro 2020 car has returned to drop off the ball, which gets an enormous cheer itself. The players take the knee, then the whistle blows, and we're off!
— Tiny Football Car & Tiny Buzz ⚡️ (@TinyFootballCar) July 6, 2022
The players emerge from the tunnel
To a wall of sound, the packed stands at Old Trafford roaring. They line up behind their flags and await the anthems, which are duly sung.
We are moments away.
England have to win Euro 2022 - they will never get a chance like this again
English journalists and fans are often accused of over-hyping the national team but, in the case of this particular squad, it is not ‘English bias’, nor arrogance to state that the Lionesses have the best chance of any of the 16 sides involved. Rather, it is simply logical to say that this hugely talented group of 23 players, competing on home soil, and coached by a greatly respected manager who won the last Euros, has an incredible opportunity if they can hold their nerve.
Tom Garry evaluates England's chances, and writes that they've never been better.
Just under ten minutes to go
Kick-off is at 8pm, so stay right where you are - you won't want to miss a moment.
Live from Old Trafford: it's Team Telegraph Sport's tournament predictions
— Fiona Tomas (@fi_tomas_) July 6, 2022
In all its glory
— UEFA (@UEFA) July 6, 2022
Old Trafford is rocking
Beyonce's 'Run the World (Girls)' blaring out as the teams warm up. Surely a first for Old T. Love it #WEURO2022
— Fiona Tomas (@fi_tomas_) July 6, 2022
Sarina Wiegman on Alex Greenwood's starting XI omission:
I can imagine [there has been a lot of talk about this]. We've had very good matches, she's played well, and the other players have played well too, so that was a big decision [to leave her out].
You take everything into consideration, and this comes out of it
Out and warming up
The English summertime jokes write themselves
— Fiona Tomas (@fi_tomas_) July 6, 2022
England for England
— England (@England) July 6, 2022
That Austria team news in black and white
Starting XI: Manuela Zinsberger (GK), Katharina Naschenweng, Carina Wenninger, Barbara Dunst, Sarah Zadrazil, Laura Feiersinger, Viktoria Schnaderbeck (c), Laura Wienroither, Nicole Billa, Sarah Puntigam, Verena Hanshaw
The Telegraph Sport team, poised for action
The @TelegraphSport team are really really excited with less than an hour to go until kick off @fi_tomas_ @TomJGarry and all look terrible in this picture so I’m sharing it pic.twitter.com/4vFqDkqi2b
— Luke Edwards (@LukeEdwardsTele) July 6, 2022
The atmosphere is already electric
More from Tom Garry, our women's football reporter, who is in situ at Old Trafford:
The atmosphere here outside Old Trafford was lively even three hours before kick-off, and the home side received a noisy welcome from six-deep banks of fans when their coach arrived. Meanwhile, in the media area, we understand well over 200 members of the press are here tonight.
To try and put that into context, only seven days ago, the Telegraph and Guardian were the only newspapers who had written-media reporters at England's pre-match press conference ahead of their final friendly versus Switzerland. So the contrast tonight is seismic.
From Tom Garry at Old Trafford
The decision to leave out Alex Greenwood is a pretty controversial one from Sarina Wiegman, who has made Greenwood a core part of this season over the past season, starting her whenever she was fit. The Man City defender built a strong partnership at centre-back with Millie Bright and has been integral to the way England have played, building from the back, and one week ago it felt certain those two would start together at centre-half together.
But Wiegman has decided that skipper Leah Williamson is better off dropping back to play in defence rather than midfield, and therefore it's Greenwood who misses out. Most fans would agree that defence is Williamson's best position for England, but it's undoubtedly harsh on Greenwood. It's a more attacking XI from the hosts, so perhaps they will revert to Greenwood and Bright later in the tournament against tougher opposition.
Have you tried out our Euro 2022 predictor yet?
Austria's starting line-up
— ÖFB - oefb.at (@oefb1904) July 6, 2022
Secret weapons and sell-out crowds: What England need to do to win the Euros
With sold-out stadiums for games like the opener at Old Trafford – a new experience for the women’s game in this country - these England players are going to have to support each other more than ever before.
If England go one or two goals down after 15 minutes against a team like Germany, is the environment prepared for the reaction of a packed quarter-final crowd suddenly falling silent?
Our Euro 2022 columnist, Chelsea Women's manager Emma Hayes, analyses the key areas in England's tilt at the trophy.
And here come the visitors
The team news in full
Starting XI: Mary Earps (GK), Lucy Bronze, Rachel Daly, Keira Walsh, Millie Bright, Beth Mead, Leah Williamson (c), Ellen White, Georgia Stanway, Lauren Hemp, Fran Kirby
Subs: Alex Greenwood, Jess Carter, Hannah Hampton (GK), Demi Stokes, Jill Scott, Nikita Parris, Chloe Kelly, Bethany England, Ella Toone, Ellie Roebuck (GK), Lotte Wubben-Moy, Alessia Russo
Just two changes from starting line-up in England's last warm-up match against Switzerland at the end of June: Bronze back in the starting XI after missing the match due to injury, which sends Greenwood to the bench, and White returns to the No. 9 spot, for Russo.
— Tom Garry (@TomJGarry) July 6, 2022
Your England starting XI
— Lionesses (@Lionesses) July 6, 2022
More than an hour to go
... but the fans are already getting in the competition spirit.
Hello and welcome to Telegraph Sport's live coverage of Euro 2022, and the tournament's opening match: hosts England versus Austria at Old Trafford.
There is no little expectation on England's shoulders. Much has been said about the impact of the home crowd, with 500,000 tickets sold and many matches, including tonight's opener, sold out. But speaking ahead of the opener, captain Leah Williamson asserted that excitement, rather than nerves, is the prevailing emotion within the England camp.
"We've put in the work over the last few weeks and ticked the boxes we needed to. We know what it is and what to expect. We're ready for it," she said.
"Everybody has their own things in place to deal with it. Pressure is a privilege and we are embracing it. It comes with the job but it doesn't mean we can't enjoy it at the same time.
"We're not robots. There will be nerves. We're aware of the expectation. Within the camp it's about the excitement and enjoying it.
"This is my job. If I wasn't ready for tomorrow and wasn't excited for tomorrow then why would I do it."
England are one of the competition's favourites, their 23-player squad stuffed with in-form talent and led by coach Sarina Wiegman, who managed the Netherlands to European victory in 2017. Wiegman, who took over managing the Lionesses in September 2021, has seen them undefeated under her reign, which has included winning the Arnold Clark Cup in February, and they go into the competition having won their last six matches.
Austria, who make up England's Group A with Norway and Northern Ireland, are taking place in their second Euros, having reached the semi-finals upon their debut in 2017.
Wiegman's players will have to unpick a stubborn defense moored by Arsenal goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger, who oversaw the highest number of clean sheets in 2021/22 WSL, and club teammate Laura Wienrother. They will also have to stay vigilant against Austrian counterattack, and strikers like Hoffenheim's Nicole Billa. But the sheer number of creative options that England has at its disposal, as well as the confidence the team will have coming off a successful run of warm-up matches ahead of the competition, should have the packed Old Trafford crowd in high spirits and full voice.
Kick off is at 8pm, but we'll be bringing you all the atmosphere, comment and coverage until, and throughout, the long-awaited first match of Euro 2022.