Group A: England, Austria, Norway, Northern Ireland
England v Austria will be the first game of a historic tournament for the Lionesses at Old Trafford on 6 July, a nation they also face next month in a qualifier for the 2023 World Cup.
Sarina Wiegman’s first major tournament as head coach will also see England face familiar opponents in Norway, whom they played at the 2015 and 2019 World Cups, and Northern Ireland, who are also in their World Cup qualifying group and will ensure a game to capture the imagination of supporters across at least two countries in the UK.
The encounter with Martin Sjögren’s Norway will bring back fond memories in particular for Lucy Bronze, who scored superb strikes in both previous tournament encounters.
England’s draw could have been much worse on paper – they avoided Sweden and Spain – but they are in line to face one of Europe’s finest forwards in Barcelona’s Caroline Graham Hansen.
Austria had an impressive run to the semi-finals in 2017 as underdogs and will be able to call on the Hoffenheim hotshot Nicole Billa. Irene Fuhrmann’s side and Kenny Shiels’ Northern Ireland offer a dress rehearsal with the Lionesses facing both in the run-up to the tournament.
Wiegman said: “They are countries we know very well. Austria and Northern Ireland are in our group for the World Cup qualifiers and Norway I know well because I’ve played them a lot with the Netherlands. You just have to play whatever team is in your group and that’s just the way it is.”
Group B: Germany, Denmark, Spain, Finland
This will take the unwanted “Group of Death” tagline with Germany and Spain set to face each other at Brentford’s Community Stadium on Tuesday 12 July.
Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s Germany side have had a stranglehold on the European Championship, but were knocked out in a shock defeat against Denmark four years ago. They will also face Anna Signeul’s Finland.
Germany’s squad is filled with exciting young talent and the experienced quality of players such as Dzsenifer Marozsan.
Spain, despite being in pot two, will be one of the dark horses for the tournament under Jorge Vilda, with plenty of players from the treble-winning Barcelona side, including the Uefa Player of the Year Alexia Putellas, one of the favourites for the Ballon d’Or.
Denmark cannot be taken lightly either after their run to the Euro 2017 final, especially given the attacking threat of Chelsea’s Pernille Harder. Their head coach Lars Søndegaard said: “In a way we knew that we were going to be the underdog. I hope we can surprise and I know the players are totally convinced they can do something. I think we are all dreaming about it.”
Finland will rely on their underdog status to try to cause a shock under an experienced head coach in Signeul, who guided Scotland to the Euros in 2017.
Group C: Netherlands, Sweden, Russia, Switzerland
The Netherlands will open the defence of their title under new management when their English head coach, currently with the NWSL side Portland Thorns, Mark Parsons, takes charge of an eye-catching opening match against Sweden, the Olympic silver medal winners, at Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane.
There will plenty of intrigue as to whether the Netherlands can succeed again, with Arsenal’s striker Vivianne Miedema looking to back up the Golden Boot she won in Tokyo at the summer’s Olympics.
Sweden continue to improve under the coaching of Peter Gerhardsson and have won medals at the past two major international tournaments. He said: “There is always pressure. If you’re going to take steps, going to be a good team, you have to handle it, but I think it doesn’t mean you are going to win the championships.”
Joining them are Switzerland and Russia, and it should be a great opportunity for the top two sides to progress. Switzerland are coached by Nils Nielsen, who led Denmark to their historic final in 2017, and Russia qualified as one of the lowest-ranked nations.
The match-up between the current European champions and the Olympic silver medallists will grab the headlines as both look to assert their authority on the group in their opening match.
Group D: France, Italy, Belgium, Iceland
France will try to end their wait for Europe’s biggest trophy with an exciting generation of new talent. The head coach, Corinne Diacre, can call upon players including Paris Saint-Germain’s young forward Marie-Antoinette Katoto, a controversial absentee from the France squad at their home World Cup in 2019.
They will have to face an improving Italy, whose coach, Milena Bertolini, has done a solid and consistent job as the team look to regain their glory days and challenge the more established sides.
Belgium and Iceland will be looking to emulate the recent relative successes of their men’s sides, with Roberto Martínez in attendance at the draw. Iceland supporters will recall the incredible spirit of their men’s side at the European Championship in 2016.
The group should offer the opportunity for France to gain much-needed momentum and it remains to be seen whether Diacre will recall some of the nation’s bigger names.
She said of the draw: “We are neither happy or unhappy. Now we know the teams we will play and this is the main. We need to take advantage of the time we have left before the tournament. The teams are fixed in place now, that is a good thing and we can start working.”