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Women’s Euro 2022: 5 players to watch

From rising stars to Ballon d’Or winners, these are the players to keep an eye on at the Women’s Euros 2022.

The Women’s World Cup of 2019 turned many of the competition’s stars into household names, and the Women’s Euros of 2022 has every opportunity to do the same.

There is often tremendous pressure on women’s footballers to not just play the sport, but also simultaneously be role models and advocates for the game. Many take this mantle on with considerable grace but it is easy to overlook that these are ultimately professional sports people whose key focus is on winning. Generally, there seems to be an increasing move away from the focus on these players being ‘trailblazers’ to instead consider their actual footballing quality.

Here are five players who will be making headlines at Euro 2022.

Alexia Putellas, Spain

The current holder of the Ballon D’Or, Alexia Putellas is quite simply one of the most talented footballers in the world.

The Spanish midfielder has become the poster girl for Barcelona, embodying the style of play that the Catalan club views as its brand. She has the kind of on the ball vision that allows her to see passes that most players could not even conceive of. Her touch allows her to move past opposition players like they were not even there. And on top of all of that, she can score goals for fun. She finished top scorer in the Champions League this season but it was her part in Barcelona’s decimation of Chelsea in last year’s Champions League final that really made people pay attention. She will be hoping to do the same with Spain here.

Ada Hegerberg, Norway

The all-time Champions League top scorer and winner of the inaugural Ballon D’Or, for a long time it looked like Ada Hegerberg would not be at Euro 2022.

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Hegerberg decided not to play for Norway for five years in protest of the way the federation treated the team. She also missed two years of football after tearing her anterior cruciate ligament but any concerns about how that might have affected her game were quickly forgotten on her return to Champions League football where she helped Lyon lift their 8th trophy.

Astonishingly, with everything that she has achieved, Hegerberg is still only 26. She scored her first Euros goal back in 2013 when she was only 17. There will be more to come in England this summer.

Lauren Hemp, England

To be the big hope for your country at a home Euros aged only 21 might seem like a lot of pressure, but Lauren Hemp seems unphased. “I take it in my stride,” she said recently. “I like the fact people have those expectations of me.”

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Hemp certainly plays like she has no pressure on her shoulders. The Manchester City winger has made a habit of gliding past defenders with the ball at her feet and it is a compliment to her that many of England’s opponents will make their initial focus be shutting her down. By the end of July, she could be a star.

Vivianne Miedema, Netherlands

Vivianne Miedema recently said on a podcast that she felt like Euro 2022 counted as an extra home Euros for her. The Dutch striker was essential to her country’s win in 2017 but having lived in England for five years, it is easy to see why she feels comfortable about playing here. She has certainly never struggled to score on English soil, with the Arsenal player being the Women’s Super League’s all-time top scorer. She recently turned down offers from Barcelona, among a host of other top European clubs, to extend her time at the North London club.

Wendie Renard, France

French captain and defender Wendie Renard is easy to spot. Standing at 6’1”, Renard towers over most of the players that she comes up against.

Her honour roll speaks for itself: 14 French league titles, nine French cups and eight Champions League titles. Renard’s ability extends to both boxes – she is a threat from set pieces and finished the 2019 World Cup as France’s top scorer. Opposition attackers will find it difficult to get past her.

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