Life-sized table football figures in London as part of the build-up to Euro 22Excitement levels for a home European Championship in the summer increased on Monday when London marked 100 days until the competition with an unveiling of life-sized table football figures – hours before further sell-out crowds were announced.
With over half of the tournament’s tickets already sold in a pre-sale, the final at Wembley – set to take place on 31 July – sold out within an hour of the general sale on Monday morning.
It means the showcase finale could surpass the record for any Euros match in a men’s or women’s tournament.
And while fans scrambled to buy tickets online, London’s colourful Carnaby Street was decorated with life-sized figures of female players from around Europe as some of the competition’s stars posed for photographs with the trophy.
It is set to be the biggest Euros in women’s football history – not just because of the demand for tickets but because the quality of competition has increased hugely in recent years.
“I think it’s actually harder to win a Euros now than a World Cup,” France international and Everton midfielder Kenza Dali told BBC Sport.
“In Europe the level is very close. At a World Cup you have some games where the gap is massive sometimes. At the Euros you can’t pick a team and say they will win the Euros.
“There’s Spain, England, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands… a lot of teams! It’s really exciting. There’s big competition and it’s in a country which is big for football. Who is going to win?”
100 days to go – everything you need to knowEngland deliver show for fans ahead of EurosWere low crowds at Arnold Clark Cup a concern?’Success would be to make the nation proud’The Euro 2022 trophy is shown in Carnaby Street, LondonEngland are hoping to become European champions for the first time, having lost finals in 1984 and 2009.
They were knocked out in the semi-finals of the 2017 Euros by hosts the Netherlands, who went on to lift the trophy by beating Denmark in the final.
Chelsea defender Jess Carter said it is “what people dream of” to play at a home Euros, but the Lionesses will not set a specific measure on what would be considered a successful tournament on the pitch.
“I can’t wait, the Euros will be unbelievable,” Carter told BBC Sport.
“I think a successful tournament would be to make the nation proud and inspire hopefully a lot more younger children to play. As individuals, all we ever do is aim to do our best.
“I don’t think it’s fair to set a specific goal because there’s so many stepping stones along the way. There are so many top teams there too. We are equally one of those, but our aim is to deliver our best on the biggest stage and see where that takes us.”
Carter, 24, said there are “so many world-class players” at the tournament and midfielder Dali is hoping theirs can carry France further than the quarter-final stage they have reached for the last three successive Euros.
Dali, 30, says their poor record in the competition means France should not be considered among the favourites.
“A lot of people see us as a favourite, but I don’t understand why because there are so many teams who have won trophies and we have never,” she added. “We have never reached a final for example.
“Maybe it’s because the French teams have done well in Europe and the Champions League so people think we can be favourites, but the national team is completely different.
“Obviously we have a really good team and prepare well. We will be ready for this competition but we need to find a way to collectively do better than the last one. That’s the objective.”
‘Germany are not the biggest fear’The Netherlands won the 2017 Euros in their home country and England are hoping to do the same in 2022The Netherlands’ success at the last Euros ended an incredible run by Germany, who had won the tournament six times in a row.
They are serial winners in the competition, having won it eight times in total before they lost their crown in 2017. Having also been beaten by England for the first time in the UK last month, have they lost their fear factor?
“I think so,” Germany and Chelsea goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger told BBC Sport. “We had that transition period in the last two years and then every other country has stepped up now as well.
“Germany are not the biggest fear anymore, but we’re trying to get back to that. It’s sometimes good to not always have everyone expecting you to be good.
“You can prove them wrong – I quite like it, I quite like being the underdogs and almost showing off.”
Berger thinks England’s victory at the Arnold Clark Cup in February showed the growth they have made under manager Sarina Wiegman.
Asked whether the perception of England has changed too, she added: “Oh, 100%. I can see it first-hand how the girls are talking when they go to camp.
“They are happy going to camp and want to do better. How [Wiegman] is treating people and dealing with things has been really helpful for England. You could see it at the Arnold Clark Cup.
“England are probably one of the favourites this year because they have the depth. That’s what you need in a tournament – not just the 11 players. The rest of them are pretty good as well!”
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