It's a year later that planned, but the UEFA Women's Euros is finally here and it promises to be one of the most open tournaments in the history of the competition.
Seven or eight nations are among those being tipped to triumph, from hosts England to newly-risen dark horses Spain and eight-time champions Germany.
That indicates the level of quality that will be on show across the board this summer, meaning there are plenty of established names and up-and-coming stars to keep an eye on.
GOAL has picked out 50 players that should be on your radar as the tournament gets under way on Wednesday...
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Kosovare Asllani | Sweden
The first ever Galactica, former Real Madrid star Kosovare Asllani is such an enjoyable footballer to watch when she is in full flow.
Not only is she able to split defences open with a pass or glide through them with ease when on the ball, she also works incredibly hard for her teams – something that is often at a premium with midfielders that get the freedom she does.
With experience of playing in five different countries, she's a leader for Sweden, too, and was one of the stand-out players in their run to the final of the Olympics Games in 2021.
Selma Bacha | France
Selma Bacha was just 17 years old when she started – and won – her first Women's Champions League final, back in 2018.
Exposed to such a high level at such an age, it’s no surprise, then, that in the time since, she's developed into a very intelligent full-back who is effective at both ends of the pitch.
Bacha’s ability to produce an inch-perfect cross has become perhaps the most eye-catching aspect of her game, while the steely winning mentality she’s built from her time with eight-time European champions Lyon will take her a long way.
Sandy Baltimore | France
One of the most promising players on the planet, it’s easy to forget just how young Sandy Baltimore is. After all, she was only 16 years old when she made her debut for Paris Saint-Germain and has been taking strides forward every year since.
She’s positive, she’s confident and she makes things happen with her absolute wand of a left foot.
The term ‘game-changer’ is thrown around a lot nowadays, but that’s what Baltimore is – and she does it at the very highest level.
Lineth Beerensteyn | Netherlands
There are few defenders in the world that would enjoy coming up against Lineth Beerensteyn.
The Juventus forward is quick, skilful and anticipates play well, able to get herself in those pockets of space off the ball where she can hurt the opposition.
But as well as having that confidence to produce in the attacking third, the Dutchwoman is also a team player and doesn’t shy away from the defensive duties that are as important to ensure she and her side are successful.
Nicole Billa | Austria
Only two foreign players have ever been named Women's Footballer of the Year in Germany – and Nicole Billa is one of them.
The Austrian forward certainly earned that accolade when she picked it up in 2021, having just top-scored in the Frauen-Bundesliga to send Hoffenheim into the Women’s Champions League for the very first time.
Billa’s clinical touch is as important to her country as it is to club, while her ability to bring others into play is an often underrated aspect of her game – albeit, understandably, given how ruthless she is in front of goal.
Stina Blackstenius | Sweden
When Stina Blackstenius’ contract with Swedish club Hacken expired at the end of 2021, fans of many clubs were urging their team to swoop for the striker.
In the end, it was Arsenal that secured the signature of a player who can now boast a very impressive scoring rate in three different countries.
That form has certainly translated to international level, too. Blackstenius has scored at four major tournaments already, the most memorable goal perhaps that which knocked Germany out of the Women's World Cup in 2019 as Sweden went on to finish third.
Barbara Bonansea | Italy
The future of Italian women’s football is pretty exciting – but there is plenty to shout about when it comes to the generation they have right now, too.
While the nation might only have made its mark on an international scale recently, Barbara Bonansea holds claim to big moments at the World Cup and Champions League already, her ability to pop up in the right place at the right time key to them.
A player that bamboozles defenders with her footwork, she entertains in a way that doesn’t take away from her end product and just oozes joy when on the pitch.
Aitana Bonmati | Spain
A player that does not get the plaudits she deserves, Aitana Bonmati is one of the most technically gifted footballers on this planet. In fact, it’s difficult to think of a single weakness in her game.
She has all the offensive qualities you could name - excellent footwork, the ability to find pockets of spaces to hurt the opposition, wonderful dribbling ability, the vision to create and the skill to finish.
Perhaps what is most impressive, then, given she spends a lot of time on the attack, is how good she is defensively, too.
Lucy Bronze | England
There are not many full-backs in world football better than Lucy Bronze, a marauding, tireless player who has won every major honour possible at club level.
She’s claimed plenty of individual accolades for her efforts, too, but has said repeatedly that she’d trade all of them for a trophy with England.
Bronze’s experience of the highest level and winning mentality is vital to the Lionesses’ cause, that never-say-die mantra complementing her ability on the pitch to wonderful effect.
Mariona Caldentey | Spain
You’d be hard-tasked in finding a more intelligent footballer on this planet than Mariona Caldentey.
Operating in such star-studded teams for club and country, maybe it’s understandable that she can be overlooked, but to watch her is to watch someone who reads the game as well as anybody.
It’s not just what she does to directly help her team – scoring goals, creating assists and wreaking havoc in the space that she finds – but also the unnoticed work, knowing exactly what to do and where to go to allow her team-mates the room to do damage themselves.
Athenea del Castillo | Spain
When Spain played the Arnold Clark Cup in England in February, Athenea del Castillo was a late call-up following injury to Mariona Caldentey.
Yet, despite only playing a game and a half of the three-match competition, she went home with the Player of the Tournament award. That is how effective and eye-catching she can be.
Direct, confident and positive on the ball, the Real Madrid star is everything you want in a winger, and she is only going to get better.
Janice Cayman | Belgium
A two-time Champions League winner, the experience that Janice Cayman brings to the table when she is with her national team is invaluable.
For her club, Lyon, she often operates at right-back, occasionally given the opportunity to start in the front line. For Belgium, though, she is freed of her defensive shackles and deployed in the more advanced positions that have seen her generate an impressive scoring rate at international level.
Her ability to roam across the front line and find the space to hurt opponents makes her a constant threat, both as a scorer and as a creator.
Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic | Switzerland
Is there a more versatile player in world football than Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic?
Full-back, wing-back, winger, striker – the speedy Swiss star can do it all and to a very high level too, showcasing her ability to be a team player and her understanding of the game all in one.
A Champions League winner with both Frankfurt and Barcelona, she's got big experience from a career that has taken her to four different countries, winning trophies in three, and is a player that can score all different types of goals.
Tine De Caigny | Belgium
The first Belgian player to score five goals in a senior international game, that statistic is a good introduction to Tine De Caigny, a talented goalscorer with great footballing intelligence.
On top of her finishing, her ability to create space for her team-mates with runs off the ball is one of the big strengths of her game, as is the fact she can occupy a few different roles.
After moving to Hoffenheim, and experiencing one of Europe's best leagues as well as European football, she is only getting better and better, too.
Kadidiatou Diani | France
When Paris Saint-Germain’s women’s team won their first ever league title, it was Kadidiatou Diani who scooped up both of the division’s Player of the Year awards, her performances absolutely vital in the club’s historic achievement.
There are simply not many wingers out there that can do what she does. When she has possession, it’s almost impossible to take it from her, such is her skilful footwork, strength to resist opponents and ability to run with the ball.
A wonderful finisher too, Diani is one of those players who truly gets fans out of their seats.
Damaris Egurrola | Netherlands
It was with Athletic Club that Damaris Egurrola – born in the United States to a Dutch mother and Spanish-Basque father – began establishing herself as one of the game’s most talented young midfielders.
However, during five years there, she would win just one cap for Spain. Ahead of the 2022 UEFA Women’s Euro, then, she switched to the Netherlands, where she appears to be a perfect fit.
Egurrola is versatile enough to play as a centre-back and has the ability to dictate a game at the very highest level – qualities that persuaded Europe’s most successful women’s team, Lyon, to pay a six-figure fee to bring her to France.
Ingrid Engen | Norway
Ingrid Engen has been attracting attention from top clubs ever since she was a teenager making waves in the top flight of Norwegian women's football.
Praised regularly for her maturity on the pitch, which belies her age, she got her first big move abroad at 20 years old, signing for two-time European champions Wolfsburg. Her ascendancy has only continued since, leading her to Barcelona just two years later.
Able to play as a box-to-box midfielder or in a deeper role, Engen is also more than capable at centre-back – her versatility underlining her excellent understanding of the game.
Magdalena Eriksson | Sweden
"You want your leader to mirror you and she mirrors me in exactly the ways I want her to. She will go on and be a wonderful manager, too." That's how Chelsea manager Emma Hayes describes Magdalena Eriksson, her club captain.
It’s not just her leadership that makes Eriksson, who is capable of playing in the centre or on the left of defence, so great, either.
A formidable defender one-v-one, she also has a knack for popping up with a goal, too, with it not uncommon for those to come in big moments and big games.
Merle Frohms | Germany
To be the starting goalkeeper for Germany is no mean feat. In a nation that has consistently produced some of the best No.1s in world football, Merle Frohms is the stand-out player in her position.
She’s dependable, strong in all areas and regularly makes the type of outstanding saves that leave forwards scratching their heads.
With her experience constantly growing, her ability as a leader at the back is, too, setting her up perfectly to only get better as she approaches her prime years.
Rachel Furness | Northern Ireland
There is one word that best describes Liverpool and Northern Ireland midfielder Rachel Furness, and it is talismanic. Few players are quite as influential for club and country.
Off the ball, she is as hard-working as they come and willing to do all of the nitty gritty elements of the game to bring success to her team.
When she’s in possession, she simply makes things happen. A creator and scorer of goals, her impact since moving to Merseyside has been humungous and played a key role in the Reds’ return to the Women’s Super League in 2022.
Grace Geyoro | France
There are a lot of impressive things about Grace Geyoro.
Her ability to inject energy into an attack with a purposeful piece of dribbling is one; the perfect defence-splitting pass or rocket of a shot she often ends that motion with are two more.
Another is her defensive contribution, the all-action midfielder excellent in a tackle and great at reading play to intercept.
But one thing that is certainly near the top of the long list is how natural she is as a leader for a club as big as Paris Saint-Germain, and has been since her early twenties.
Cristiana Girelli | Italy
He was hard-working, excellent at linking up with team-mates and, above all, incredibly prolific. The pair are different footballers in some ways, but those elements shine through in Girelli’s game just as they did in his.
As the stock of Italian women's football continues to rise, the nation’s star striker rises to the occasion, too. A hat-trick in her first World Cup was an historic achievement, before she scored nine times in the 2021-22 Champions League as Juventus reached a first quarter-final.
Caroline Graham Hansen | Norway
For a long time, injuries threatened to deny football fans the wonderful talent of Caroline Graham Hansen.
One-v-one, there is arguably nobody better, with it almost impossible to take the ball from her. Her ability to use both feet, glide past full-backs with sublime skill and determined work rate make the Barcelona star a dream team-mate – and a nightmare of an opponent.
Giulia Gwinn | Germany
Giulia Gwinn was only 19 years old when she went to her first World Cup. Yet, she opened the tournament with the Player of the Match award and ended it with the Best Young Player accolade. That’s some way to announce yourself on the biggest stage.
Capable on either side of the defence, in midfield or on the wing, it doesn’t matter where Gwinn plays, she is always going to bring tenacity and creativity in equal measures.
Pernille Harder | Denmark
Had the Ballon d’Or been awarded in 2020, Pernille Harder would have almost certainly won it.
In a free-roaming attacking role, she led Wolfsburg to a league-and-cup double, as well as the Champions League final, scoring 38 goals in just 33 games. It was similar to the influential role she played for Denmark in 2017, as they reached the final of the Euros.
It’s not just about her goals, either. The way Harder brings others into play marks her out as one of the most intelligent footballers around. She is simply fascinating to watch.
Ada Hegerberg | Norway
The first woman to be awarded the Ballon d’Or, the all-time top goalscorer in the UEFA Women’s Champions League and a six-time European champion, Ada Hegerberg is a player who doesn’t need no introduction, but you can certainly write a great one with her achievements.
The Norwegian is as complete a striker as they come – her hold-up play, combination with team-mates and ability to score a variety of goals are all excellent, while there are few players in world football who show up in the biggest moments as consistently as her.
Lauren Hemp | England
While Manchester City endured a torrid start to the 2021-22 Women’s Super League season, bogged down by a long list of injuries, 21-year-old Lauren Hemp was still one of the best players across the whole division. For a player to shine so brightly when their team is struggling, it says a lot.
Absolutely unstoppable when she gets her head down and drives forward with the ball, she’s now adding goals and assists to her game to really take it to the next level.
Svenja Huth | Germany
To say a player doesn’t get enough credit can be an overused cliché, but it certainly applies to Svenja Huth.
With an excellent first touch and all-round technical ability, to give her time and space on the pitch is to shoot yourself in the foot, because she will punish any opposition in devastating fashion.
It’s not just in the final third that she is tremendous, either. Huth is someone who will work incredibly hard for her team and her highlights reel can be filled with plenty of crucial defensive interventions, too. That’s not something you can say often about such an attack-minded player.
Sveindis Jonsdottir | Iceland
At the end of 2021, Sveindis Jonsdottir was being discussed as a player to watch.
Fast forward a few months and, having returned to Wolfsburg after a great loan spell in Sweden, everyone was talking about the 2021 Icelandic Female Footballer of the Year.
Her incredible performances in the Champions League were key to that hype, the young forward certainly not phased as she showed up with confidence, creativity and energy, while also showing off her intelligence on and off the ball on the very highest stage.
Marie-Antoinette Katoto | France
The art of goal-scoring is sometimes overlooked. For a forward to read play well enough to be in the right place at the right time to score is an incredible skill, much more difficult to master than it looks.
There are few better at it than Marie-Antoinette Katoto, a ruthless No.9 who puts the ball in the back of the net for fun, for both club and country.
The Paris Saint-Germain striker is also brilliant in the air and at creating space for others, making her one of the best in her position in the world.
Emma Koivisto | Finland
When Brighton completed the signing of Emma Koivisto in early 2021, it was seen as a huge coup. Within just a few months of being in the Women’s Super League, that opinion was spreading at a rapid rate.
Able to play on either side of the defence, she also settled into the role of a right-sided midfielder in England, bringing energy and being equally effective in both halves – qualities that make her an excellent full-back, too, as does her wonderful tactical awareness.
Mapi Leon | Spain
One of the best centre-backs in the world, Mapi Leon became the first paid transfer in the history of Spanish women's football when she joined Barcelona in 2017 – and it would be stating the obvious to say she has been worth it.
Leon has abilities on the ball that are perfectly suited to both Barcelona and the Spanish national team, such is her gifted left-foot.
She is able to start attacks from deep with her passing range or by driving forward with the ball, while her pace and timing in a tackle allows her to recover well should things break down.
Frida Maanum | Norway
A lot of big milestones in Frida Maanum’s career came when she was still a very young player – an international debut, a first major tournament, being named captain of her club and securing a big move abroad, to Arsenal.
That’s a testament to the maturity she shows both on and off the pitch, as well as her incredible talent.
An attack-minded midfielder, Maanum has the vision, the dribbling ability and the skill to be one of the world’s best in her position for many years to come.
Lieke Martens | Netherlands
It takes a special kind of footballer to be labelled a big-game player, and Lieke Martens is a big-game player.
When the Netherlands won the Euros in 2017, the flying winger starred, scoring three goals, including one in the final.
It saw her sweep up the individual awards before securing a move to Barcelona, a project that was just starting but set for greatness.
Her contributions in Catalunya were huge, with one of her best performances coming in the 2020-21 Champions League final as she and Barca both lifted the trophy for the first time.
Beth Mead | England
When Beth Mead started to make a name for herself, it was as a young striker - and a mighty prolific one at that.
At the age of 20, in hers and Sunderland's first ever top-flight season, she won the Golden Boot, scoring 12 goals in 14 games - three of those coming in a shock thrashing of league leaders Chelsea.
When she switched to Arsenal, however, her role transformed. It didn’t take long for her to soon become one of England’s most exciting wide players, her skill, speed and wicked crossing all stand-out features of a game that still has that goal-scoring element.
Vivianne Miedema | Netherlands
The all-time top goalscorer in Women's Super League history, the all-time top international goalscorer in the Netherlands history, the player who has scored the most goals scored in a single Olympic tournament - those are just three of the records from an extremely long list that Vivianne Miedema has accumulated in her career to date.
Her game is about more than goals, though. A player who describes herself as blend between a No.9 and a No.10, there is no one like her and that makes her world-class talent all the more entertaining to watch.
Kika Nazareth | Portugal
One of the most exciting young prospects coming through in Europe, Kika Nazareth has been dazzling defenders ever since making her debut for Benfica at the age of 16.
In fact, the forward is so highly rated that, when she was just 18 years old, she became the first female footballer to be represented by super-agent Jorge Mendes, who also has Cristiano Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho on his books.
A player with bags of tricks, sublime footwork and the confidence to boot, Kika can play out wide and cut inside to devastating effect, or wreak havoc in an attacking midfield role.
Lena Oberdorf | Germany
GOAL’s first ever women’s NXGN winner, Lena Oberdorf has been showing off her versatility ever since she burst onto the scene with Essen as a 16-year-old, spotted at full-back, centre-back, in midfield and even out wide at times.
After joining Wolfsburg, the two-time European champions, when she was still a teenager, she settled into a defensive midfield position that she has quickly mastered to an incredibly impressive degree.
That she is most often in that role or in the heart of defence today underlines her importance, with her maturity, tactical knowledge and battling attitude crucial to the spine of both Wolfsburg and Germany.
Ines Pereira | Portugal
In the 2021-22 UEFA Women’s Champions League campaign, Servette ended the group stages without a point from their six games, and having conceded 23 goals.
However, goalkeeper Ines Pereira was not only the Swiss side’s stand-out player, but one of the most eye-catching across the tournament overall, making plenty of outstanding saves – including a penalty stop against Juventus.
She has reflexes as quick as lightning, makes smart decisions with her positioning and is excellent in one-on-one situations.
Alexia Putellas | Spain
One of the best players in the world, Alexia Putellas has long been a top talent, but it was Barcelona’s treble-winning success in the 2020-21 season that put her name in lights.
The talismanic midfielder was sensational as the club claimed its first Champions League title, scoring big goals on even bigger occasions and she was duly rewarded with the individual accolades – the Ballon d’Or among them.
It’s not just her wonderful vision, weight of pass and spatial awareness that mark her out as so great, though. She’s also a leader, and an excellent one at that.
Guro Reiten | Norway
When Guro Reiten joined Chelsea in 2019, manager Emma Hayes described her as "one of the most talented creative players in the world".
Not many fans will have known much about Reiten at the time, but they have been given exactly what they were promised – a stand-out forward who is versatile, selfless and works incredibly hard.
She’s been key to many of their successes since - picking defences apart with her passes, scoring great goals and using her nimble footwork to get out of the tightest spaces - and that experience has only made her even better.
Fridolina Rolfo | Sweden
When Sweden reached the final of the Olympic women’s football tournament in 2021, Fridolina Rolfo was on fire. After an injury-plagued season with Wolfsburg, it was a wonderful reminder of just how good the Swede is.
Since that tournament, the forward been doing that every week. Healthy, in form and enjoying life in some new colours in Barcelona, she’s not only showcasing her attacking qualities, but also her defensive ones, often found in a new role at left-back that she excels in.
Caroline Seger | Sweden
Caroline Seger's career has brought endless success – in Sweden, the United States and France, with her spell in the latter even bringing her a Champions League title.
With over 200 caps for her country, and 13 major tournament appearances after Euro 2022, her experience is a key strength, helping her to read the game well in her holding midfield role.
Off the ball, that allows her to break up counterattacks and get her team on the front foot again, while, in possession, her qualities to dictate play effortlessly are extremely evident.
Sofie Svava | Denmark
At 17 years old, Sofie Svava was the subject of a club-record transfer fee, Swedish giants Rosengard paying Brondby more than they had ever received for a player to secure the signature of this talented young star.
She’s since played for Wolfsburg, two-time European champions, and Real Madrid, a name new to the women’s game but one that screams status and success.
With titles at three of those clubs, she’s quickly totting up the experience, adding it to a game of hers which is characterised by versatility and a wicked left foot.
Karolina Vilhjalmsdottir | Iceland
There are a lot of rising stars in Iceland and Karolina Vilhjalmsdottir is one of the most exciting.
After starring in the league at home for a few years, she secured a big move to Bayern Munich aged 19, catching the eye with her passing and superb technical ability.
Able to play as a midfielder or out wide, she’s quickly become one of the most important players for her senior national team, boasting an impressive goal-scoring return since netting her first in late 2020.
Lia Walti | Switzerland
Some players just make their team tick and Lia Walti is certainly one of them.
Whether it’s Arsenal or Switzerland, her presence in the deeper areas of midfield is crucial to keeping the ball, creating opportunities and being well-organised.
The recipient of Switzerland's national player of the year award in 2021, she is an exceptional leader, too, with her experiences at the highest level in both Germany and England only adding to those characteristics.
Tabea Wassmuth | Germany
In the summer of 2021, Tabea Wassmuth left Hoffenheim, the club she had been with for 12 years, since she was just 13 years old, to join two-time European champions Wolfsburg.
In her first season with the German giants, the forward scored more league goals than ever before and marked her debut Champions League campaign with 10 goals in just 11 matches.
An energetic player who works hard for her team off the ball, the forward is excellent at linking up with team-mates and can sniff out opportunities well before any defender has time to react.
Leah Williamson | England
One of the most influential ball-playing centre-backs in the Women’s Super League, Arsenal’s Leah Williamson has made a name for herself as an excellent defender both on and off the ball.
However, since Sarina Wiegman’s appointment as England head coach, she’s been playing as a box-to-box midfielder for her country, using her athleticism, technical skills and good reading of the game to adapt well.
Named England captain just days after her 25th birthday, what Williamson brings to any team is not limited to her footballing talent, either.
Sarah Zadrazil | Austria
When Sarah Zadrazil graduated college in the United States, she was overlooked in the NWSL Draft by the country’s top clubs. In hindsight, that’s pretty remarkable.
She had starred in the Washington Spirit's reserve team, winning the league with future USWNT stars, but her path would take her back near home – to Germany.
She signed for Turbine Potsdam, established herself as one of the Frauen-Bundesliga's top midfielders, reached a European Championship semi-final with Austria and then signed for Bayern Munich. It all worked out quite well in the end, really.
Manuela Zinsberger | Austria
As a young goalkeeper, it can be hard to get your big breakthrough. At 17 years old, Manuela Zinsberger made her Austria debut and, within just a couple of years, she was the undisputed No.1 choice.
An excellent shot-stopper with good distribution and a commanding presence that continues to grow, she spent five years with Bayern Munich after leaving her homeland and was picked up by Arsenal in 2019.
Her technical ability is perfectly suited to the Gunners’ philosophy, with her batting off stern competition for her place to cement herself as first-choice in London, too.