Women's Euro 2022 predictions: Germany can edge Spanish contest
The next round of matches in Group B at Women's Euro 2022 take place tonight, with Germany and Spain locking horns in Brentford in arguably the game of the group stage after the Stadium MK plays host to Denmark's clash with Finland.
Both opening matches in the group were one-sided affairs as Germany won 4-0 winners against Euro 2017 runners-up Denmark, while Spain got the better of Finland 4-1 despite falling behind.
Denmark vs Finland (Tuesday, 5pm BST)
Denmark made it all the way to the final of the last European Championship, losing to Netherlands, but they have to win their next match against Finland to merely stay in with a chance of making the knockout stage this year.
It was always going to be tough in Group B but head coach Lars Sondergaard lamented his players for their lack of bravery and composure in the thrashing by the Germans on Friday and they need a response.
Perhaps little was expected of Finland ahead of the tournament as they are the lowest-ranked side in the group.
But they will want to pick up at least one positive result and their best chance of doing that is likely to be against the Danes.
Although they conceded four against Germany, the Danes will likely stick with the back three, while Mille Gejl is pushing for a start up front.
For the Finns, Linda Sallstrom looks set to continue her partnership alongside Sanni Franssi after scoring in the first minute against Spain, while Essi Sainio is hoping for a start in midfield after her second-half cameo in the opener.
Denmark may have lost their last two games but have a good record against Finland and are unbeaten in the last four matches between the two, winning three, while they have lost only one of the last seven, winning five.
Finland are enduring a disappointing run of form and go into tonight's clash on a three-match losing run, while they have won only one of their last 10 matches in all competitions.
Despite the disappointing opening to their campaign, the Danes should take confidence from how effective they were in qualifying for both this tournament and the next World Cup.
They won all seven of their matches during their recent World Cup qualifying campaign, scoring 35 goals and conceding only once in the process.
As for Finland, in their recent World Cup qualifying campaign, they picked up only three wins in six fixtures and they are the inferior side.
A Denmark win looks likely but it could also be a low-scoring affair featuring three or fewer goals.
Germany vs Spain (Tuesday, 8pm BST)
This evening's late match sees Germany take on Spain in an encounter that looks set to determine who tops Group B.
Both teams netted four times in their opening games and there is little to separate the two sides on paper.
Lena Lattwein and Alexandra Popp will hope their goal-scoring cameos off the bench against Denmark will give them a chance to start against Spain, but it remains open to question whether Martina Voss-Tecklenburg will tinker with her starting XI.
For Spain, the big team news came before the tournament when Alexia Putellas was ruled out with Aitana Bonmati charged with replacing the Ballon d'Or winner against Finland.
The 24-year-old looks set to continue in that vein alongside Patricia Guijarro and Irene Guerrero in midfield, with Spain unlikely to make changes against their biggest group rivals.
Germany managed 22 shots against Denmark, twice hitting the bar and forcing goalkeeper Lene Christensen into a number of big saves.
The eight-time winners have now scored 11 goals in back-to-back wins, having endured a tricky five-match spell when they won only one and lost three.
Spain are enjoying a 24-match unbeaten run in all competitions and have demonstrated why they are heavily fancied against Finland.
Although La Roja have never beaten Germany, they did come close to that first win in the last meeting between the two in February earlier this year, with Lea Schuller equalising in the 88th minute to deny them in a 1-1 draw.
Coming into Euro 2022, there was an air of caution surrounding Germany.
For some time, Voss-Tecklenburg has looked unsure of her best starting combination and results such as April's defeat to Serbia in World Cup qualifying left many believing there are a handful of other nations with a better chance of lifting the trophy this summer.
And while this Germany team may not go the distance, they showed they will more than likely be in contention with their mauling of Denmark, who they could have beaten by more than four goals.
Given the speed and physicality they demonstrated in that match, they should feel confident of pushing Spain close.
The Spaniards were among the favourites to lift the trophy coming into the tournament but have to battle through Euro 2022 without forward Jennifer Hermoso and star midfielder Putellas, who were both ruled out.
The absence of Putellas in particular levels the playing field in this contest and the draw looks the most likely outcome.
Spoils were shared when these juggernauts clashed in the Arnold Clark Cup earlier in the year and it would be no surprise to see a similar scoreline in a potentially gritty affair in Brentford.
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