In the women’s football world all eyes are currently on Sweden, where Europe’s top 12 national teams are battling it out at UEFA Women’s EURO 2013, with the opening group matches throwing up a surprise or two. Doing their very best to steal the limelight are Australia who shocked France last week, and USA's star striker Abby Wambach who is now the leading all-time goalscorer in women’s international football. FIFA.com has all the details.
Hosts recover from slow start
Sweden went into UEFA Women’s EURO 2013 as one of the favourites and intent on impressing their fans by conquering the continent’s best. Kicking off against neighbours Denmark, however, the Swedes had to settle for a disappointing 1-1 draw. Mariann Gajhede Knudsen gave the Danes the lead midway through the first half, and though Nilla Fischer restored parity within ten minutes, the Swedes contrived to miss two second-half penalties, Lotta Schelin and Kosovare Asllani the culprits. Pia Sundhage’s side atoned for their faltering start by sweeping Finland aside 5-0 in their second Group A match.
Germany were another much-fancied side to stumble in their opener, Silvia Neid’s charges being held to a goalless draw by Group B rivals Netherlands. Making immediate amends, the Germans then put three goals past Iceland without reply, leaving them needing just a point in their final group match against Norway to make sure of first place in the section.
France on song
Fourth at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011™ and the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament London 2012, Les Bleues have made a perfect start to their EURO campaign. Drawn into Group C, the French kicked off with a 3-1 defeat of Russia thanks to a Marie-Laure Delie brace and a Eugenie Le Sommer goal. The girls in blue then made sure of a place in the last eight by seeing off Spain 1-0.
Hope Powell’s England are the other side in the pool and find themselves on the brink of elimination after going down 3-2 to the Spaniards and drawing 1-1 with the Russians, a game in which they needed a last-gasp equaliser to grab a point. The English face France in their third and final group game knowing that nothing less than a win will do if they are to advance to the last eight.
Wambach earns her place in history
The USA continue to ride high, their latest success coming when they overwhelmed Korea Republic 5-0 in a friendly last month, a game in which the prolific Abby Wambach beat compatriot Mia Hamm’s all-time international goalscoring record. The reigning FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year struck four times in the first half, the third of those goals taking her past Hamm’s old record of 158. Lauren Cheney added a fifth after half-time as the Stars and Stripes made it two wins out of two in back-to-back meetings with the South Koreans. The USA team will now enjoy a well-earned break from international commitments with the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) inaugural season - which began in April - reclaiming the spotlight
Click here to read FIFA.com’s Interview of the Week with Abby Wambach
Matildas score encouraging win
Australia rounded off their European tour with an impressive defeat of France. Sitting four places below the French in the FIFA/Coca-Cola Women’s World Ranking, the Matildas went into the game as underdogs. And though Les Bleues created the better chances, it was the visitors who came away victorious courtesy of goals scored either side of half-time by Tameka Butt and Katrina Gorry. Following disappointing 1-0 and 3-1 losses to ADO Den Haag and the Netherlands respectively, Hesterine De Reus’ players were relieved to end their stay in Europe on a very positive note.