Grandstand finish in sight for EURO 2022 hopefuls

  • Final Group A, B, D, E and H games this week ahead of upcoming play-offs

  • Austria, Italy and Switzerland can still qualify directly for EURO 2022

  • Finland, Poland, Portugal and Spain hoping to qualify as group winners

Who can still make the play-offs, and who can qualify directly for the UEFA Women's EURO 2022? These key questions will be resolved between 18 and 24 February, when the final fixtures in Groups A, B, D, E and H are contested. Austria and Switzerland, who have already played all their games, can still progress directly to EURO 2022 depending on what happens in Group E and in the match between Italy and Israel.

The big games

[[flag-esp-s]] Spain - Poland [[flag-pol-s]]

23 February - Ciudad del Futbol de Las Rozas - Madrid

This high-stakes showdown will finally take place next week after being postponed last year due to COVID-19. In this hard-fought group, both Spain and Poland are aiming for top spot, while Czech Republic, who have finished their programme, can only secure a play-off berth at best. The odds favour La Roja, who, with two games to play, are in pole position ahead of the Czechs (both on 16 points). Poland currently occupy third place on 14 points, so a win for Jorge Vilda’s side against Azerbaijan on 18 February would be enough to rubber stamp Spain’s qualification. The Poles, meanwhile, have to win in Madrid to at least secure second place, otherwise that spot will go to the Czechs.

[] Finland - Portugal []

19 February - Helsinki Football Stadium - Helsinki

Whoever prevails in this head-to-head can start making plans for next year's EURO. However, should the pair play out a draw (Finland and Portugal both have 16 points) and then win their respective final games against Scotland and Cyprus, both would be guaranteed a place in England – a 20-point final total ensuring the team finishing second would take one of the three best runners-up qualifying spots. In the event of a draw in this fixture and defeat in the final game, the runner-up would enter the play-offs, which would also be the case if, after a defeat in Friday’s showdown, the defeated team won their final game.

Finland's coach Anna Signeul feels her side have a slight advantage, as the Portuguese will not be used to her country's cold winters. Star striker Linda Sallstrom echoed her coach’s sentiment, saying. “I don't think many Portuguese players have experienced or regularly play in this kind of cold. We’re familiar with Finnish winters and know what it's like to play and train outdoors,” added Sallstrom, who also highlighted Portugal's strengths. “They've got really talented players. Claudia Neto always caused us headaches and has scored a lot of goals against us. We need to be very careful anytime she enters the area with the ball and be vigilant at all times, given her firepower.”

[] Italy - Israel []

24 February - Stadio Artemio Franchi - Florence

Only a win by six or more goals will guarantee Milena Bertolini’s side a place at EURO 2022 as one of the best runners-up. If Italy do not win, or win by fewer goals, they will have to settle for the play-offs. Also monitoring this game closely will be Switzerland and Austria. In order to claim one of the three best runners-up berths, the Swiss need Italy not to beat Israel in Group B, and the team finishing second in Group E to finish with an inferior record to theirs. Austria, for their part, can celebrate if Finland beat Portugal, as Irene Fuhrmann’s side would almost certainly, though not mathematically, be assured one of the three best runners-up spots. The Austrians would also be sure of their place in England if Italy fail to win by six goals against Israel.

Other international fixtures

  • Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium will face off in a high-quality three-team tournament. On 21 February, Germany and Belgium will cross swords in Aachen, while on 24 February, Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s German side take on the Dutch, the reigning European champions and world runners-up, in Venlo. Prior to that, Belgium and the Netherlands will meet in Leuven, Belgium on 18 February.

  • The 2021 SheBelieves Cup, which will be contested by world champions USA, Argentina, Brazil and Canada, will run from 18 to 24 February.

  • The Visit Malta Women's Trophy 2021 will feature Austria, Sweden, Malta and Slovakia and run from 15-23 February.

  • The Tournoi de France 2021, on the other hand, has been canceled