Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – England got off to a winning start in the opening game at Old Trafford, but it is France, Germany, Spain and Norway who have provided the thrills in the first round of matches at Euro 2022.
AFP Sport looks at three talking points from the first week of the tournament.
France getting along just fine
France’s preparations had been filled with familiar rumours of dressing room disharmony and a controversial squad selection from coach Corinne Diacre.
Les Bleues were in perfect harmony in Rotherham on Sunday, though, as they smashed Italy 5-1 with all of their goals coming before half-time.
Grace Geyoro was the star of the show as the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder scored a hat-trick.
Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Delphine Cascarino were also on target, but the best all-round team display of the tournament so far displayed the wealth of talent on offer to Diacre.
Despite Lyon’s dominance of the European club game, France have never made it beyond the quarter-finals of a women’s Euro before.
The real test will arrive in the last eight with a likely quarter-final clash against Sweden or defending champions the Netherlands.
But if they can remain united, this could finally be France’s time for a breakthrough on the international level.
Germany are for real
No nation comes close to Germany’s pedigree at the Euro, but the eight-time winners had gone under the radar before the tournament kicked off after a lean few years by their standards.
There is no ignoring Die Nationalelf now after Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s women destroyed Euro 2017 finalists Denmark 4-0.
Germany’s intense press suffocated the Danes, who many had tipped to cause an upset in a group also containing pre-tournament favourites Spain.
The intensity of the German’s pressing suffocated Denmark, who if anything were flattered by the 4-0 scoreline as Germany hit the woodwork three times and had another goal ruled out for the most marginal of offside calls.
Spain will pose a much tougher test for Germany on Tuesday, in what could easily be an early dress rehearsal for the final.
Crowds come and go
The tournament started with a bang as 69,000 crammed into Old Trafford to roar on England to a 1-0 win over Austria.
That smashed the previous tournament record for a match at the women’s Euro by nearly 30,000.
The record for a group stage match not involving the host nation has also been broken twice when Spain beat Finland 4-1 in Milton Keynes and for the 1-1 draw between holders the Netherlands and Sweden in Sheffield.
Yet, the organisers insistence that they had got the balance right in the selection of a number of smaller venues has also been borne out.
Iceland midfielder Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir labelled the decision to host three games at Manchester City’s Academy Stadium, where the capacity for the tournament is just 4,400, as “embarrassing” and “disrespectful.”
However, there were still plenty of empty seats as Iceland began their campaign there in a 1-1 draw against Belgium.
Over 500,000 tickets have been sold for the tournament, more than double the overall attendance at the last Euro five years ago in the Netherlands.
But the low ticket prices have resulted in no shows even for games that had appeared to have sold out.
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