Scotland to play England at Euro 2017

Scotland women's coach Anna Signeul will lead the team at Euro 2017 where the Scots will face England, Spain and Portugal. Picture: SNS
Scotland women's coach Anna Signeul will lead the team at Euro 2017 where the Scots will face England, Spain and Portugal. Picture: SNS
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All that was missing from last night’s Euro 2017 draw at the Luxor Theatre in Rotterdam was the theme tune from Neighbours as Scotland ended up in the same group as England, Spain and Portugal.

It was a fabulous outcome for the Scots, who will be playing in their first major championship. Their first game will be against England in Utrecht on 19 July, the same day as the other cross-border derby between Spain and Portugal in Doetinchem.

Having stated that it would be imperative to avoid six-time holders Germany and France from Pot 1, Scotland coach Anna Signeul got her wish.

The bonus was being drawn against England, instead of the Netherlands, who as hosts will be playing in front of partisan sell-out crowds.

It got even better for the Swede when she avoided her fellow-countrywomen from Pot 2, and also another powerful nation in women’s football, Norway.

Her luck continued when the Pot 4 opponents proved to be Portugal – the last of the 16 countries to qualify for the tournament and by far the lowest ranked.

“I’m pleased we’re playing England in the first game,” Signeul said. “It will also be our first game at a major championship so there are bound to be nerves.

“There will be a lot of media attention – but the pressure won’t be on us because we’re the third seeds. I think it would have been more difficult if our first game had been against a side we were expected to beat.

“The second game is against Portugal and that will be a must-win. Then we have Spain, and that will be an all-or-nothing, so I’m very happy with the order of the games.”

Scotland recorded draws against all their group rivals the last time they played them.

The most recent was a 1-1 friendly draw against Spain at Falkirk Stadium in March. That was preceded by a similar scoreline against Portugal, also in a friendly, but this time away from home.

Prior to that, the Scots were involved in a thrilling 4-4 match against England in the Cyprus Cup three years ago.

Two years earlier they had beaten England 2-0, with Jenny Beattie and Kim Little scoring the goals.

Despite those results England have made huge strides in the last two years and are now No 5 in the Fifa rankings following their outstanding performance at last year’s World Cup. They beat Germany in the game for third and fourth place.

The domestic game in England has also become fully professional with clubs such as Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal investing significantly in their women’s teams.

If, as Signeul hopes, the final Group D game against Spain in Deventer on 27 July proves to be all-or-nothing, with the winner progressing to the quarter-finals, it will evoke memories of the play-off matches against Spain for the 2013 Euro finals.

The first game at Hampden was drawn 1-1, but the Scots seemed certain to have qualified for the finals in Sweden on away goals when it was 2-2 in Madrid. Then, with the very last kick of the ball in extra time, the Spaniards scored.

Scotland captain Gemma Fay said: “I think it’s achievable to get out of the group.

“We avoided Germany and France among the top seeds, and we could have ended up with Sweden or Norway from Pot 2.

“I’ve spoken to all the other players and everybody is very excited,” added the Glasgow City goalkeeper.

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