Netherlands star Vivianne Miedema has tested positive for COVID-19, ruling her out of the Oranje's Group C fixture with Portugal on Wednesday.

Miedema scored 14 goals in 22 Women's Super League appearances for runners-up Arsenal last season, a tally only bettered by Chelsea's Sam Kerr (20).

The 25-year-old, widely regarded as one of the best players in the women's game, has also netted an incredible 94 goals in 112 international appearances, making her the Netherlands' all-time leading scorer.

Miedema started her country's Euro 2022 opener on Saturday, a 1-1 draw with Sweden, but coronavirus will prevent her facing Portugal.

An update from the Oranje's Twitter account read: "Vivianne Miedema has unfortunately tested positive for COVID-19 and will therefore be in isolation for the next few days. 

"When she no longer has any symptoms and tests negative, she can re-join the selection."

Miedema has scored 11 goals for the Netherlands since head coach Mark Parsons took charge last year – no Dutch player has more – and netted four times as the side won the last edition of the Women's Euros in 2017, including a brace in a 4-2 final win over Denmark.

It remains unclear whether the Arsenal forward will be back in action by the time the Netherlands finish their Group C campaign against Switzerland at Bramall Lane on Sunday.

Anita Asante featured at three Women's European Championships, and big-stage experience makes the former England defender a shrewd judge of the teams that will go for glory this month.

The Euro 2022 finals kick off when England face Austria at a sold-out Old Trafford on Wednesday, with the tournament climaxing in the July 31 final at Wembley.

Spain start as many people's favourites, but defending champions the Netherlands, hosts England, France, Germany and Sweden are also firmly in the frame.

Stats Perform sat down with 71-cap star Asante ahead of the tournament getting under way.

The 37-year-old spoke of how a Dutch striker reminds her of the great Dennis Bergkamp, her hopes for England and belief in the Lionesses' Dutch boss Sarina Wiegman, and why Spain are such an exciting proposition.
 

Asante Asanta's verdict on...

... why England are serious trophy contenders this time

"I think England have a really great chance. We have a fantastic squad. They've got to three semi-finals consecutively [2015 and 2019 World Cup, Euro 2017]. So this is an England team that is competing at the highest level. Of course, they're going to have to challenge the Dutch, the French, the Spanish, who are also an ascending force, Germany with a kind of historic legacy of winning major tournaments. But I think they've got all the components to do that. And they've shown that in previous tournaments, it's just those fine margins.

"We saw with the men's Euros, just how the whole nation kind of stops, gets to a standstill. And it's all about the team and whatever everyone can do to support the team and put good vibes into the universe for them. Hopefully, we can emulate that and get a great mass of support behind the women's England team."

...Sarina Wiegman, champion coach with the Netherlands at Euro 2017 who now bosses England's Lionesses

"She seems a very assured manager. She really knows what she's about and what she wants to impart on the squad. In tournaments, you just never know what can happen with your squad: illnesses, injuries, lots of different challenges from outside. So you need everyone to pull together and have a good relationship as well in terms of communication.

"She wants the team to be confident in possession and that they really enjoy having the ball and utilising their threats. And that's the thing I've enjoyed about watching the England team."

... the mighty Spain team that could take Euro 2022 by storm

"You can see that they are a very fluid kind of team where they are very composed in possession. They don't really adjust the way they play to other teams, they're more the sort of team that go and take their games to the opposition. I think that's what we've seen domestically. And it's kind of what we're probably expecting with the Spanish national team as well, because a lot of those players obviously play in the national team as well. So they have a good understanding of each other from club level.

"I think, arguably, the biggest criticism may be that they maybe have lacked the kind of clinical finishes that we've seen with other European sides in like an Ada Hegerberg, for example, for Norway, but they are definitely an exciting outfit with incredible players. And obviously Ballon d'Or winners to look out for, so they'll definitely be hot contenders."

... the brilliance of Netherlands and Arsenal forward Vivianne Miedema

"What can you say about Miedema? She's a prolific number nine, but we also know, she can play as a false nine and kind of as a 10. She has that versatility to her game as well as her vision. She can pick out passes that the other players and maybe even pundits don't see. So that's an incredible skill to have.

"In and around the box, she's lethal. Left foot, right foot, she can finish. But with her, it's the finesse. She kind of reminds me of that Bergkamp-esque finesse where she just chops players and you think she's going to shoot, and then she puts you on the floor and checks back in and takes a strike or slips someone in."

... the thrill of playing tournament football

"As a young girl, my ambition was always to play for England. Walking out the tunnel, getting in your shirt, playing in international competitions that are viewed globally, is such an incredible thing as a female athlete.

"It's all the young girls and all the younger players now who get to do that. They're really living a dream, essentially. And it's a fantastic thing that the younger generation have role models to look up to, to help them see that that dream can be a reality."

... who she considers the favourites

"I have to say England. I actually really believe that we have enough quality in the squad to reach a final and hopefully build that belief as we go along in the competition to really get over the line. Hopefully that home support will give them extra energy throughout the tournament."

A year later than planned, the pandemic-delayed Women's European Championship takes place in England this month, at a time when the women's game is enjoying a popularity surge.

Barcelona Femeni packed out Camp Nou twice for Champions League games in the season just ended, in what was the most eye-catching sign of years of steady growth.

Many players who a decade ago would have needed part-time work to supplement their playing wages are now enjoying the trappings of being full-time professionals.

It means these players are physically sharper, more tactically astute, and skill levels are soaring skywards, making Euro 2022 an unmissable prospect.

Here, Stats Perform looks at seven players who could emerge as dominant stars of the tournament.

Alexia Putellas, Spain and Barcelona

Generally considered to be the world's best player, Putellas became the first Spain women's international to reach 100 caps on Friday when she played and scored in a 1-1 friendly draw against Italy. She runs the show for Barcelona, captaining the team, and delivered a flood of goals from midfield. She hit 34 goals across all competitions last season, including a four-minute hat-trick against Valencia, and in the Champions League she was named player of the season, despite her team's 3-1 defeat to Lyon in the final.

Irene Paredes, Spain and Barcelona

If Putellas pulls the strings in the opposition half, it will likely fall to Paredes to organise at the other end of the field, as favourites Spain look to keep it tight at the back. The Barcelona centre-back is set to captain Spain, who are seeking their first European Championship title. After joining last year from Paris Saint-Germain, Paredes helped Barcelona to a polished Primera Division campaign of 30 wins from 30 games, with only 11 goals conceded. Almost 11 years since making her debut in Euro 2013 qualifying, Spain will look for Paredes to lead by example.

Pernille Harder, Denmark and Chelsea

Harder is a serial winner at club level, having won four consecutive league and cup doubles with Wolfsburg before joining Chelsea for a reported world-record fee in September 2020 and adding back-to-back WSL and FA Cup doubles. The classy forward will create chances for others but is also a deadly finisher, scoring 68 goals in 134 internationals. Runners-up last time, Denmark will look to Harder to ensure they are in the mix again this month.

Ada Hegerberg, Norway and Lyon

Hegerberg is the returning Norway heroine, coming back into the fold in March after almost five years in self-imposed exile, having previously been upset by the national federation's treatment of the women's game. A true superstar of the game, the Lyon striker and former Ballon d'Or Feminin winner suffered an ACL injury in early 2020 that kept her sidelined for 20 months, but she is emphatically back now, as she proved when scoring in the Champions League final win over Barcelona – a 59th European club competition goal in her 60th such game.

Beth Mead, England and Arsenal

Once a teenage revelation at Sunderland, now at Arsenal, Mead had to wait until just before her 23rd birthday before earning a first England cap. In the four years since that debut, she has floated in and out of the team, with the Lionesses having serious riches with their attacking options. This could be the Whitby-born player's tournament, with Sarina Wiegman expected to include her in an attacking three behind a main striker. Mead has hit three hat-tricks for England in the last nine months and is also a highly creative player from the flanks. She is one of a handful of England attackers who could light up the tournament.

Vivianne Miedema, Netherlands and Arsenal

Mead's club-mate has enjoyed a stunning five-year spell in the English top flight, hitting a record 74 Women's Super League goals in 89 games. In May, the former Bayern Munich player agreed a new deal with the Gunners, and now she will spearhead the Netherlands' European title defence. Described by team-mate Jill Roord as "an absolute killer", Miedema helped the Netherlands reach the 2019 World Cup final and scored a record 10 goals at the Tokyo Olympics, despite the Dutch campaign ending with a quarter-final penalty shoot-out loss to the United States. Miedema surprisingly missed from the spot, so she is not perfect, but defences will fear her presence over the coming weeks.

Marie-Antoinette Katoto, France and Paris Saint-Germain

The PSG and France men's teams have Kylian Mbappe, and the women have Marie-Antoinette Katoto, a record-breaking superstar in her own right. Both are 23 years old, both have over 100 goals for PSG, and both could lead their country to trophy glory this year. Katoto became PSG's record scorer in the women's game last season, and last week agreed a new contract tying her to the capital club until 2025. There lies another Mbappe parallel, with PSG determined to keep the striker out of the clutches of rival clubs, knowing she is the sort of talent that could make an explosive impact on Euro 2022.

Five years after Sarina Wiegman's Netherlands team triumphed on home turf at the European Championship, Sarina Wiegman's England begin among the favourites to ... triumph on home turf.

Wiegman's switch to coach the Lionesses has served as a key sub-plot to the tournament, which will put women's football in the spotlight throughout July.

It gets under way when England play Austria at Old Trafford on Wednesday, women taking the spotlight in a year when the men's World Cup unusually takes place in November and December.

Almost 120,000 spectators attended games when England's north west staged Euro 2005; however, the overwhelming majority were either at games featuring England, or at the final between Germany and Norway at Blackburn Rovers' Ewood Park.

That meant some games were sparsely attended, with just 957 spectators seeing France beat Italy in the group stages in Preston. This time, with the tournament boosted from eight to 16 teams since England were last hosts, over 500,000 tickets have been sold, meaning near-empty stadiums should be a thing of the past.

Here, Stats Perform looks at what to expect from the 26-day finals.

German dominance gives way as rest of Europe catches up

Germany used to be the queens of the Women's Euros, but their crown has slipped. After winning six consecutive titles, the Germans fell short at Euro 2017 when they lost to eventual runners-up Denmark in the quarter-finals.

It was all rather end-of-an-era stuff, with the rise of professionalism across Europe's most powerful and forward-thinking footballing nations only likely to be further in evidence this year. Germany, of course, are included among those powerhouses, but they have plenty of company now at the top table.

The Dutch hosts roared to glory at Euro 2017, with Vivianne Miedema scoring twice in a 4-2 victory over the Danes in the final, having demolished Mark Sampson's England 3-0 to reach that stage. Miedema joined Arsenal shortly before that tournament and has become the Women's Super League's record scorer while with the Gunners, the defining player of the blossoming WSL.

This is a tournament that was first officially staged in 1984, with Sweden beating England on penalties in Luton after the teams finished tied on aggregate after home and away ties.

From the second staging in 1987 through to 1997, the tournament was staged every two years, with Norway triumphing in 1987 and 1993. Germany – and West Germany in 1989 – otherwise swept the board and continued to do so when it became a quadrennial championship.

The mighty Germans dismissed England 6-2 in the 2009 final in Helsinki, with a Lionesses team that included Alex Scott, Kelly Smith, Karen Carney, Eni Aluko, Fara Williams and Casey Stoney overwhelmed. Another survivor from that match, veteran midfielder Jill Scott, features in Wiegman's squad this year.

Mighty Spain top list of trophy contenders

Spain are favourites with the bookmakers, and what a team they are, built on classic foundations of players from Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. Their sensational midfielder Alexia Putellas could own this tournament, but the Spanish rise was checked by Barcelona's stunning defeat to Lyon in the Champions League final.

French outfit Lyon have been established titans of the women's game for years, but Barcelona looked to have surpassed them, winning all 30 of their Primera Division games last season in a display of their might. Yet on the biggest club stage of all, Barcelona, with their many Spain stars, were caught cold and slumped to a 3-1 loss.

That should give Spain's Euros rivals some hope, as should the blow that Spain suffered when star forward Jennifer Hermoso was ruled out by a knee injury.

There are plenty of credible challengers, with hosts England among them. Since Wiegman replaced Phil Neville, England have won every match under their new coach, including a 5-1 victory over the Netherlands at Elland Road in June, and they should be able to handle group games against Austria, Norway and Northern Ireland.

Expect the familiar European giants to contend. Women's football is gradually becoming big business, and the richest countries are building the best facilities and funding the game on a professional level, which is a far cry from how the game was a decade ago.

England go Dutch, Dutch go English, Scandinavians on a mission

France have left national team greats Amandine Henry and Eugenie Le Sommer out of their squad, so how they cope without that illustrious duo remains to be seen, while England are without long-standing former captain and defensive mainstay Steph Houghton, who was judged not fit enough by Wiegman after an injury lay-off.

The hosts have Barcelona's new recruit Lucy Bronze, another rock of their team for many years, while the likes of winger Lauren Hemp and strikers Ella Toone and Alessia Russo should announce themselves on the big stage. Not for the first time, England look forward-heavy, with question marks over their midfield strength. New captain Leah Williamson attended the last Euros as a fan, so this is a significant step up.

While England are coached by a Dutchwoman, the Netherlands are bossed by Englishman Mark Parsons, who had a long spell with the Portland Thorns before replacing Wiegman. The reigning champions are contenders again, given the presence of Miedema and the mercurial Lieke Martens, who has traded Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain in the off-season. The thumping by England was a jolt, but don't read too much into that result.

Denmark's Pernille Harder and Norway's Ada Hegerberg are superstar strikers in teams that might cause a surprise, Sweden sit second in the FIFA rankings so rightly fancy their chances, and then you have Germany. The eight-time winners lack the star power of their rivals and must play Denmark and Spain in the group stage, but their squad is packed with experience, so count them out at your peril.

Players for the Netherlands' men's and women's sides will be paid the same after the KNVB announced an equal pay agreement, much to the delight of Arsenal striker Vivianne Miedema.

The new agreement will come into play from July 1 ahead of the 2022-23 season, with Dutch football's governing body the KNVB working on the collective deal since 2019.

They hope that the agreement will see TV rights increase for women's football and follows similar approaches taken recently by the United States and Spain.

England already had a collective deal in place since 2020, with women's football set for centre stage at Euro 2022, which starts on July 6.

"We have worked hard towards this and now it is a historic step for Dutch women's football," said Jan Dirk van der Zee, who is a KNVB director and responsible for women's football. 

"The win at Women's Euro 2017, a place in the final at the World Cup 2019 and participation in the Tokyo Olympic Games means the Orange Lionesses have become an integral part of the Dutch football landscape.

"We want to emphasise that with this important step."

Miedema will lead the line at Euro 2022 and is the Netherlands' all-time top scorer, across both the men's and the women's teams.

The Arsenal forward is also the leading scorer in the history of the Women's Super League (74), while her 33 assists take her to 107 goal involvements in 89 appearances in the competition.

Miedema, writing on Twitter, expressed her delight at the KNVB equal pay agreement.

"What a day to be Dutch Equal pay!! Been working closely together with the KNVB to achieve this historical milestone in women's football. Onto a brighter future together," she said.

Arsenal's all-time record goalscorer Vivianne Miedema has ended speculation over her future by signing a new deal with the Women's Super League club.

Miedema's previous deal was due to expire next month, and she had been linked with a move to Barcelona or a team in the United States.

However, the Netherlands international – who has scored 117 goals in 144 games since signing for Arsenal from Bayern Munich in 2017 – has agreed to stay on in north London.

The Gunners confirmed the news on their official website on Friday, although no details were given regarding the length of the contract.

"I think the best thing about football is to build something with a team and people around you that you really want to belong to," Miedema said.

"I feel like I have that at Arsenal. I feel that winning titles with Arsenal will mean a lot more to me than winning them with any other club right now.

"And that, of course, is what I hope to achieve with Arsenal."

Miedema is the WSL's record scorer with 74 goals to her name in the competition, and she won the Golden Boot in both the 2018-19 and 2019-20 campaigns.

The 25-year-old scored 23 goals in 39 appearances across all competitions this season, with Arsenal finishing runners-up to Chelsea in the league.

Arsenal head coach Jonas Eidevall, who signed a new two-year deal two weeks ago, said: "Viv is a stellar talent and a hugely important player for this team.

"It's fantastic news that she is staying with us. As a club, our ambition is to win titles and compete at the highest level.

"We know Viv's own ambitions are the same, and together we will give everything to achieve that."

Champions Chelsea fell foul of an early challenge from Arsenal on Sunday in a gripping first glimpse of a potential Women's Super League title battle. 

Chelsea and Arsenal have accounted for seven of the 10 WSL championships to date, including the past four in a row, although the Blues were dominant last term. 

The beaten Champions League finalists entered the match at Emirates Stadium having suffered only one defeat in 43 league games and unbeaten in 39 away from home – a competition record. 

However, Arsenal, whose most recent defeat came against Chelsea in February, landed the first blow in 2021-22 with an impressive 3-2 win. 

Vivianne Miedema netted a record-extending 61st WSL goal to open the scoring, steering inside the near post for her sixth strike on opening weekends. 

Chelsea were level on the stroke of half-time through Erin Cuthbert but trailed again four minutes after the restart as Miedema turned provider for Beth Mead, who raced away and finished in style. 

Mead's eighth WSL goal against Chelsea – all at home – followed, meaning Pernille Harder's fine header proved merely a consolation as the Blues became the third team to lose the first game of a title defence, after Arsenal in 2013 and Liverpool in 2015. 

 

It was a first win in six against Chelsea for Arsenal, but they now have the outright most victories versus the reigning WSL champions (six). 

And the Gunners hope this will not be a one-off, as two-goal Mead told Sky Sports: "We are a team that want to fight for the title, so we won't make it easy for these teams. 

"Hopefully we can continue to do that for the rest of the season." 

She added: "[This win] has been a long time coming. We've had a lot of seasons where we've [fallen] short in these games." 

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