Women's Euro 2022 predictions: France the standout team in Group D

Aidan Perkins
Spotlight
With the likes of Marie-Antoinette Katoto in their ranks, much more is expected of France at Women's Euro 2022
With the likes of Marie-Antoinette Katoto in their ranks, much more is expected of France at Women's Euro 2022

France are expected to dominate Group D at Women's Euro 2022 this month. 

Placed alongside Italy, Iceland and Belgium, the French — ranked third in the world — are the team to beat. 

They will be looking to justify being among the outright favourites for the tournament despite never having made it past the quarter-finals in previous European Championships. 

Finally glory for France?

It has been the last-eight stage where France have bowed out in the last three editions. 

But expectations are high that Corinne Diacre's side will not only win their group but go all the way in England, such is the mix of exciting talent and experience in their squad. 

On top of that, like several of the other big guns, France come into the tournament in red-hot form. They have won their last 14 games, conceding just five goals along the way. 

They beat Vietnam 7-0 in their last warm-up game and have seen off the Netherlands 3-1, Brazil 2-1 and Germany 1-0 in the past 12 months to underline their threat. 

The French squad is littered with top talent, including Paris Saint-Germain trio Grace Geyoro, Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Kadidiatou Diani. 

And they should comfortably rack up three group victories over their early opponents. 

Italy next best

Italy look to be the next best in the group and can follow France into the knockout phase. 

Ranked 14th in FIFA's rankings, the Italians are two-time European runners-up, although not since 1997. 

But their pedigree has diminished somewhat in recent years with a disappointing group-stage exit at the last Euros five years ago, while they bowed out at the quarter-final stage of the 2019 World Cup. 

Their recent form has generally been good, though, mixing impressive wins in competitive games over the likes of Norway, Romania, Lithuania and Switzerland with a creditable 1-1 friendly draw against Spain on Friday. 

However, that was Italy's only warm-up game for the tournament and their first in nearly three months, so there is a legitimate fear that they are undercooked with a huge opening Group D game against France coming up on July 10.

Juventus forward Cristiana Girelli is arguably still their biggest talent, despite now being 32. 

Mixed form for Belgium

Belgium's Tine De Caigny was top scorer in qualifying with 12 goals
Belgium's Tine De Caigny was top scorer in qualifying with 12 goals

Belgium and Iceland are regarded as similar in stature in the women's game but for both it could be a case of making up the numbers in this group. 

Unlike Italy, Belgium have had four friendly warm-up games, with mixed results. 

A 3-0 defeat to England is no overall disgrace and they did acquit themselves well for lengthy periods against the tournament hosts, only to concede three goals in the final half-hour at Molineux. 

Ives Serneels' side will have boosted their confidence by hammering Northern Ireland 4-1 and Luxembourg 6-1. 

But they went down to a 1-0 defeat to Austria in their other recent friendly to suggest they will not be quite good enough when it matters most.

Iceland more than just minnows

Iceland are being classed as tournament minnows overall but they should not be dismissed completely out of hand. 

Thorsteinn Halldorsson's side are two places above Belgium at 17th in the world rankings and have won nine of their last 10 games.

They also decided to play just one warm-up game ahead of the Euros — a 3-1 friendly win over Poland — while their only recent defeat was a 5-0 loss to the USA, still widely regarded as the best team on the planet. 

Iceland should be able to hold their own against the likes of Belgium and possibly Italy. 

But when it comes to taking on the elite in the women's game, they usually get found out.

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