The 2017 Women’s Euros kicks off this weekend but who could star at the showpiece event?
Mark Sampson’s England and Anna Signeul’s Scotland are among the 16 sides competing at the Netherlands tournament, which takes place from July 16 to August 6.
From the player who outscored Cristiano Ronaldo last year to the influential big sister of a Premier League forward, here are 10 to keep an eye on at the finals…
Vivianne Miedema (Netherlands)
A prodigious striker who, at 15, became the youngest player in the Dutch top flight, Miedema’s 39 goals for Heerenveen in 2013/14 earned her a move to Bayern Munich before further success caught Arsenal’s eye in May.
Gunners boss Pedro Martinez Losa believes he has landed “one of the best young strikers in the world” so fans of the domestic game should keep tabs on the player who models herself on Robin van Persie.
“I’ve always looked up to him,” she told FIFA.com. “I’ve always been right footed but he’s a left-footer. That’s why I started trying to do everything with my left too. Van Persie’s the player I’ve picked up the most from by watching him.”
Miedema was dubbed one to watch at the 2015 World Cup in Canada but admits, now 20, she is “ready for the pressure”. With added home backing, this could be her time.
Fran Kirby (England)
Steph Houghton’s calm head will be crucial and Fara Williams’ delivery a key weapon for England but Fran Kirby will be aching to make up for lost time – starting against Scotland on July 19.
Long-term knee and ankle injuries saw the Chelsea forward miss out on a year’s action for her country but after making her comeback in May, she went on to claim the Women’s Super League Spring Series golden boot by netting six times in just five matches.
Kirby is known to casual observers as well as keen followers – Sampson notably dubbed her ‘Mini Messi’ after her goal against Mexico at the World Cup two years ago – but fresh motivation and form could see her play a crucial role for a side bubbling with confidence after their third place in Canada.
Melania Gabbiadini (Italy)
Italy have reached the last eight of every Women’s Euros since the tournament’s inception in 1984 but with Germany and Sweden ominous Group B opponents this time – as well as a defence that has shipped 24 goals in seven recent friendlies – hopes could hinge on their veteran forward’s finishing.
The Verona captain, who has won five Scudetti with her club and averages a goal every other game for her country, is the big sister – and formative influence – of Southampton striker Manolo.
“I remember going to see her play,” he told Sportweek. “I watched her take a great shot… she was so strong, I wanted to be like her.”
Camille Abily (France)
France suffered a quarter-final defeat at the 2013 Euros, as well as the 2015 World Cup and 2016 Olympics but expectations are high for a side packed with the talent that made Lyon the dominant club force last term and also saw PSG reach the Champions League final.
Wendie Renard and Eugenie Le Sommer are among the Lyon players hoping to continue club form with country but team-mate Camily Abily, a classy playmaker whose craft undid Manchester City in Europe last term, is likely to pull the strings.
At 32, she is playing the best football of her career and while club retirement has been put off for another season, she’ll want to make a mark in her last Euros.
Ada Hegerberg (Norway)
The only player to score more goals in UEFA competition last year than Cristiano Ronaldo, Ada Hegerberg was crowned UEFA’s best female player in Europe last summer.
The 22-year-old – quick, strong and seldom shy to shoot – inspired Lyon to the treble last season and has now struck 112 times in just three seasons in France.
A haul of 36 goals from 57 games for her country further highlights her potency; with inexperience further back, Norway’s chances could hinge on how she links up with rising Wolfsburg winger Caroline Graham Hansen on the big stage.
Dzsenifer Marozan (Germany)
After scoring the winner in the semi-final two years ago, Dzsenifer Marozan this time heads to the Euros with the captain’s armband.
The Budapest-born attacking midfielder became the youngest to play and score in the Bundesliga at 14 and 15 respectively and has made good on her promise, most recently helping her country to Olympic gold and her club Lyon to domestic and Champions League glory.
Germany are seeking a seventh Euros win on the trot but with a new coach in Steffi Jones at the helm, will look to Marozan to provide crucial continuity, as well as a killer pass. “She’s our Robin Hood,” Jones says of Marozan. “She’s there for everyone.”
Jordan Nobbs (England)
It’s more than four years since she scored a stunner on her senior England debut but this tournament feels ripe for Jordan Nobbs to shine.
Her high-energy performances in midfield have brought recognition at club and country level – she was named in the PFA WSL Team of the Year and crowned England’s Player of the Year – but, at 24, has a steely focus to go with her string of personal accolades.
“We’re going there to win. We believe we can,” the Arsenal player said recently.
Erin Cuthbert (Scotland)
Scotland’s preparations for a first major finals has been disrupted by injuries to key players like Kim Little and Jen Beattie and while Jane Ross plundered goals in qualifying, 18-year-old Erin Cuthbert could prove a surprise spark.
Plucked by Chelsea after starring at Glasgow City, where she finished top scorer and was named the league’s player of the year, Cuthbert is a box-to-box midfielder who – as she told the Blues’ official website – “likes to be tricky”.
Signeul handed the former U19 captain a starting berth in a send-off win against Northern Ireland and she duly impressed, setting up the match-winning goal as well as going close herself on several occasions.
Lotta Schelin (Sweden)
Sweden head to the Netherlands bidding to avenge their Olympic final defeat to Germany and while coach Pia Sundhage has fresh attacking talent like Stina Blackstenius in her ranks, Lotta Schelin remains pivotal at 33.
The country’s all-time leading goalscorer, now back in her home country with Rosengard, is a rangy forward with an enduring knack for the big occasion – cue comparisons with Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
“Zlatan’s one of the best in the world – a real killer on the field with fantastic technical skills and an awesome will to win,” she said in an interview with FIFA.com. “But although he inspires me, and I love watching him play, there are big differences between us too. I like that young girls look up to me as Lotta Schelin, not as ‘the female Zlatan’.”
Pernille Harder (Denmark)
Norway and the hosts represent tough competition in Group A but Denmark have a bonafide goal threat in Pernille Harder.
Harder, who sealed a move to Wolfsburg at Christmas and scored twice to help her new club win the German Cup, has scored an impressive 45 goals in 84 appearances and has craft as well as predatory instinct inside the box.
A game-changer in Nils Nielsen’s side, she found the top corner with a curling free-kick against England earlier this month, though Ellen White’s double secured a warm-up win.
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