Featured Image: Tommy Hughes. Scotland celebrates their qualification and win over Iceland.
With 250 days to go, the draw for the UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 draw has been made and the opening fixture sees Scotland play England in Group D. Scotland’s other two opponents are Portugal and Spain:
The fixtures are as follows for the whole Group:
|19 July||England v SCOTLAND||Stadion Galgenwaard||Utrecht|
|19 July||Spain v Portugal||De Vijverberg||Doetinchem|
|23 July||England v Spain||Rat Verlegh Stadion||Breda|
|23 July||SCOTLAND v Portugal||Sparta Stadion Het Kasteel||Rotterdam|
|27 July||Portugal v England||Koning Willem II Stadion||Tilburg|
|27 July||SCOTLAND v Spain||De Adelaarshorst||Deventer|
At every tournament, the media wants to label one of the groups as the ‘Group of Death’. Group D will be known as the ‘Group of Derbies’.
Scotland and England first played each other back in 1881, with Lily St. Clair scoring the first official goal as Scotland won 2-0. This means that Lily St. Clair is the first ever scorer in Women’s Association Football.
The two countries met in what is stated as the First Women’s Football International back in November 1972 in Ravenscraig, Greenock – a game that England won 3-2. Six months later, the result would be very different as England won 8-0, a result that is still Scotland’s heaviest defeat.
Scotland would beat England 2-1 in 1977, but they would have to wait until the 2011 Cyprus Cup to triumph over the Auld Enemy, winning 2-0 thanks to a Kim Little strike and a Jennifer Beattie header.
The last time the sides met, was back in the 2013 Cyprus Cup and ended in a 4-4 draw.
The other two countries in Scotland’s group are Spain and Portugal, and should be classed as ‘winnable games’. The England game is one where if Scotland can get something out if it, it will be brilliant. Scotland knows they can beat both Spain and Portugal, although, it will still be tough.
Like Scotland, Portugal is making their debut at a major tournament, having beaten Romania in the play-offs. Over the past five matches, Scotland is unbeaten, winning three of the matches. The last time they met was back in 2014 and ended in a 1-1 draw. Rachel Corsie looked like she had scored the winner, but Portugal equalised in the last minute through Dolores Silva’s penalty.
Scotland’s final game is against Spain. These two sides have a recent painful history with Spain having a horrible habit of scoring in the last minute.
Back in March, Scotland played Spain at the Falkirk Stadium and Emma Mitchell’s wonder strike looked to have won the game – but deep into second-half stoppage time, Virginia Torrecilla equalised.
This was nothing compared to when the sides met back in the Euro 2013 qualifying play-offs. Having drawn the first leg at Hampden Park 1-1, the second leg also ended in the same scoreline after 90 minutes. Kim Little’s goal in extra-time gave Scotland the crucial away goal advantage, and even though Spain equalised, Scotland were going through. But in the 122nd minute, Veronica Boquete scored the most painful of winners.
Spain would go on to reach the Quarter-Finals, where they lost 3-1 to Norway. In the group stage, Spain shocked England, beating them 3-2 thanks to Alexia Putellas’ 93rd-minute strike. They also qualified for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup but were knocked out in the group stage, having picked up just one point after drawing with Costa Rica.
England is the team with tournament experience. Famously, they finished third in the 2015 World Cup, beating Germany in the Third-Place Play-off after suffering a heartbreaking Semi-Final defeat to Japan.
That was the fourth time they had reached the World Cup, having qualified for the 1995, 2007 and 2011 editions where they had reached the Quarter-Final stage.
England has qualified for the Euros eight out of twelve times – including the first ever edition back in 1984 where they finished as runners-up. In 2009, they reached the final but lost 6-2 to Germany.
But, of the four countries in the group, only one can claim to have a World Cup winner in their history. Scotland’s Rose Reilly won the 1984 (Unofficial) World Cup in 1984, playing for Italy who beat West Germany 3-1 in the Final.
Scotland’s preparations for their debut tournament began painfully with a 7-0 defeat to the Netherlands. They will also play in the 2017 Cyprus Cup with the fixtures yet to be announced.
It would be great if Scotland could play a couple of friendlies in front of big crowds to replicate the sort of crowds they will be playing at in the Netherlands.