Women's Euro 2013: Full Schedule, Fixtures, Odds and Predictions
Preparation for Women's Euro 2013 has entered its final stages. Sweden is all set to host UEFA's competition that will run for 18 days from July 10, and as kick-off draws ever closer, it's time to detail the tournament's full schedule, betting odds and predictions.
First, the vitals. This is the last Women's European Championship to feature 12 teams. As confirmed by UEFA at the end of 2011, the competition will expand to 16 nations from 2017 onwards.
The upcoming tournament sees three groups of four battle it out for places in the quarterfinals. First and second from each group progress, as do the two third-placed teams that have the most points accumulated. With eight of 12 teams advancing, it's clear to see why the shake-up is taking place.
Group A—July 10: Italy vs. Finland, Sweden vs. Denmark; July 13: Italy vs. Denmark, Finland vs. Sweden; July 16: Sweden vs. Italy, Denmark vs. Finland.
Group B—July 11: Norway vs. Iceland, Germany vs. Netherlands; July 14: Norway vs. Netherlands, Iceland vs. Germany; July 17: Germany vs. Norway, Netherlands vs. Iceland.
Group C—July 12: France vs. Russia, England vs. Spain; July 15: England vs. Russia, Spain vs. France; July 18: France vs. England, Russia vs. Spain.
Quarterfinals—July 21: Group A winner vs. Group B/C Third Place (match 19), Group A Runner-up vs. Group B Runner-up (20); July 22: Group B winner vs. Group C Runner-up (21), Group C winner vs. Group A/B Third Place (22).
Semifinals—July 24: Winners of match 19. vs Winner of match 20 (23); July 25: Winner of match 21 vs. Winner of match 22 (24).
Final—July 28: Winner of match 23 vs. Winner of match 24.
All odds are provided by Ladbrokes and are correct as of July 8. The bookmakers have made Germany—who have won the last five tournaments—favourites to win the competition outright, although a decent selection of alternatives are also available.
While it's extremely difficult to overlook Germany, this summer's competition could be a lot tighter than first anticipated. Coach Silvia Neid has been forced into making drastic changes to her original squad after numerous high-profile injuries, as confirmed by UEFA.
Sweden star forward Lotta Schelin told BBC Sport the host nation is not fearful of facing the side that failed to qualify for last year's Olympic Games in London:
"You don't get the impression that Germany are as unstoppable as they used to be, and that's positive."
Such an attitude could bode well for a number of teams cross the competition. Hope Powell's England side were beaten by Germany in the 2009 final, but will also have to play without a handful of key individuals. As reported by BBC Sport, Kelly Smith, Casey Stoney and Karen Carney have been named in the squad despite suffering major fitness problems.
If you're willing to overlook the current champions, France could be the team to plump for here. Despite losing 2-0 to Australia in their last warm-up match before the tournament (as reported by The Guardian), many of Bruno Bini's squad captured the 2013 Champions League trophy with Lyon.
At their best, players such as Eugenie Le Sommer, Marie-Laure Delie and Louisa Necib have a real chance of taking Les Bleues all the way.
Who do you expect to win this year's competition? Let me know in the comments section and be sure to hit me up on Twitter:
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