Finland state

key players, road to the final, prediction and more

Finland are back at the Euros after a nine-year absence, having missed the tournament in the Netherlands five years earlier.

They qualified in near-perfect fashion for the Championships this summer, but were given a daunting task to reach the round of 16, after being drawn into the group of death.

Here’s everything you need to know about Finland ahead of Euro 2022.

Finland qualified for Euro 2022 with a near perfect record, claiming seven wins, one draw and only two concedes in their eight games to top their group ahead of Portugal.

Late goals and narrow wins were a common theme through Finland’s qualifying campaign; a 1-1 draw with Portugal thanks to a 90th-minute equaliser, a 1-0 win over Scotland thanks to a 95th-minute winner and a signing with the 93rd-minute winner in their win 1 -0 against Portugal.

Finland did not take part in a major tournament until 2005, but have since qualified for four of the last five European championships.

Euro 1984: Did not qualify
Euro 1987: Did not qualify
Euro 1989: Did not qualify
Euro 1991: Did not qualify
Euro 1993: Did not qualify
Euro 1995: Did not qualify
Euro 1997: Did not qualify
Euro 2001: Did not qualify
Euro 2005: Semi-finals
Euro 2009: Quarter-finals
Euro 2013: Group stages
Euro 2017: Did not qualify

Finland have never qualified for the World Cup but are currently battling with the Republic of Ireland for a playoff spot ahead of the 2023 tournament.

1991 World Cup: Did not qualify
1995 World Cup: Did not qualify
1999 World Cup: Did not qualify
2003 World Cup: Did not qualify
2007 World Cup: Did not qualify
2011 World Cup: Did not qualify
2015 World Cup: Did not qualify
World Cup 2019: Did not qualify

Natalia Kuika is a three-time winner of Finland’s Player of the Year and will be key to her country’s chances this summer. The versatile defender is playing at her Portland Thorns football club – her second spell in the United States, after playing college football at Florida State.

The 26-year-old operates as a fullback in the NWSL, but tends to play central defense for her country. A strong defensive record was essential for Finland to qualify for Euro 2022, with Kuikka a big part of it.

Emma Koivisto is a player to watch for Finland – and a familiar face to WSL fans, having spent the last 18 months with Brighton. Brimming with energy, the 27-year-old can operate in midfield and at full-back, and will likely play at left-back for Finland this summer.

The woman in the Finnish hot seat is a recognizable face to British women’s football fans; Finland is managed by Anna Signeulwho spent 12 years as Scotland manager between 2005 and 2017, guiding the team to their first major tournament at the 2017 European Championships.

The 61-year-old played and coached at Damallsvenskan in her native Sweden for more than 20 years – including two player-coach roles – before moving into national team management in 1996, first with the youngsters Swedish teams and then with Scotland. She has led Finland since 2017 and her contract with the national team ends this year.

At the first official European Women’s Championships in 1984, matches consisted of two 35-minute halves. If this law had still been in place for Euro 2022 qualification, Finland would have scored 10 fewer goals and accumulated five fewer points.

Spain vs Finland

Date hour : Friday, July 8, 5:00 p.m. (Paris time)
Venue: Brentford Community Stadium
How to watch on TV: BBC Two (UK)

Denmark vs Finland

Date hour : Tuesday, July 12, 5:00 p.m. (BST)
Venue: MK Stadium
How to watch on TV: BBC Two (UK)

Finland vs Germany

Date hour : Saturday July 16, 20:00 (BST)
Venue: MK Stadium
How to watch on TV: BBC Two (UK)

Finland will face a Group A opponent if they qualify for the knockout stages – likely Norway or England.

At the top of the group of death and the quarter-finals, the winner of group D or the runner-up of group C will wait in the semi-finals – probably France, Sweden or the Netherlands. Finish second in the group and reach the semi-finals, and the winner of Group C will be their likeliest opponent – again, presumably Sweden or the Netherlands.

Guardians: Katrina Talaslahti (Fleury 91), Anna Tamminen (Hammarby), Tinja-Riikka Korpela (Tottenham Hotspur).

Defenders: Defenders: Elli Pikkujamsa (KIF Orebro), Tuija Hyyrynen (Juventus), Emma Koivisto (free agent), Anna Auvinen, (Sampdoria), Nora Heroum (Lazio), Natalia Kuikka (Portland Thorns), Anna Westerlund (Aland United).

Midfielders: Ria Oling (Rosengard), Olga Ahtinen (Linköping), Emmi Alanen (Kristiandstad), Essi Sainio (HJK) Evelina Summanen (Tottenham Hotspur).

Forwards: Adelina Engman (Hammarby), Sanni Franssi (Real Sociedad), Juliette Kemppi (IFK Kalmar), Amanda Rantanen (KIF Orebro), Jutta Rantala (Vittsjö GIK), Jenny Danielsson (Al), Heidi Kollanen (KIF Orebro), Linda Sallstrom ( Vittsjo GIK).

Finland received the worst draw of all with Spain, Germany and Denmark all supporting their group.

In any other group, qualifying for the quarter-finals would be an achievable goal for Finland, but that seems too difficult given the quality of the teams they will face.