The UEFA Women Euros quarter-finals are now set following the last batch of group games and there will be some interesting match-ups.
The knock-out stage is set as follows:
Wed 20 July England v Spain
Thur 21 July Germany v Austria
Fri 22 July Sweden v Belgium
Sat 23 July France v Netherlands
Among the nations who did not make it were Norway, who disappointed with a 8-0 defeat by England and also lost to Austria. It comes as no surprise that the manager Martin Sjögren has agreed to step down. He might be the last one to lose his job after the tournament.
In Group A Northern Ireland were eliminated with nil point, this was expected of them for their first senior tournament.
In Group B, Finland were eliminated with nil points, too. That was more or less expected but the Norwegian press got wind of some complaints about the manager Anna Signeul coming from her own coaching staff, which is a bit bizarre. Denmark were also eliminated from this group and the previous runners-up did not manage to overcome Spain and Germany in what was the Group of death.
Group C was the group of life with all four teams still going on the final day with a chance to go through. In the end, Sweden and the Netherlands prevailed, but Portugal and Switzerland certainly did a good job to disrupt and threaten the top two teams.
Group D has seen Belgium qualify for the knock-out surprising many with that outcome, as France top the group. Iceland go home unbeaten, while Italy will regret missing a quantity of chances in their three games.
The tournament has seen numerous attendance records beaten:
Before the tournament started, over 500,000 tickets had been sold, which was more than double the record tournament attendance set at Women’s EURO 2017 in the Netherlands, where over 240,000 fans flocked to the stadiums.
The total group stage attendance for this year’s tournament was 369,314; an average of over 15,300 across the 24 matches.
The 16th match (out of 31) of the tournament (France v Belgium 2-1) brought the tournament attendance to over 248,000, and therefore surpassing the total attendance record set at Women’s Euro 2017 in the Netherlands (240,055).
The record set for a group game not involving the hosts was broken three times. First at Spain versus Finland (16,819), then at Netherlands against Sweden (21,342) and again when 22,596 watched the Netherlands beat Switzerland 4-1 in Sheffield to go through to the quarter-finals.
It also has to be said that many seats bought were left empty in the end, with sold out stadiums not reaching full capacity as fans were unable to resell their unwanted tickets via UEFA.
My quarter-finals prediction:
England will beat Spain but it will be a game with many goals. I am not sure Spain will be able to score more than the Lionesses who have scored 14 goals in the Group stage to set a new record.
Germany will defeat Austria in a tight game. Austria have one of the best defences, while Germany have strength in depth in attack. Manuela Zinsberger the Arsenal goalie has been in superb form so far and will be hard to beat.
Sweden should comfortably defeat Belgium if they play to their strengths.
France will defeat the Netherlands in a tight game with many goals as defence is a weakness for both teams and attack is their main strength. Both goalkeepers will be extremely busy on Saturday.