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Wiegman ready for tough battle with France among England’s rivals for Euros spot

SARINA WIEGMAN is relishing a tough French test with England drawn in a group of death for the Women’s Euros qualifiers.

Herve Renard’s France are among their opponents in the battle for automatic qualification along with Sweden and the Republic of Ireland.

Sarina Wiegman's Euros champions have been drawn in a group of death with Sweden and France among their rivals in the qualifiers for next year's tournament

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Sarina Wiegman’s Euros champions have been drawn in a group of death with Sweden and France among their rivals in the qualifiers for next year’s tournamentCredit: Getty
The Lionesses' push for automatic qualification for next year's Euros will see them play France for the first time under Wiegman

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The Lionesses’ push for automatic qualification for next year’s Euros will see them play France for the first time under WiegmanCredit: AFP
The Republic of Ireland have also been drawn in the same group as England, Sweden, and France

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The Republic of Ireland have also been drawn in the same group as England, Sweden, and FranceCredit: Sportsfile

From their group only the top two sides are guaranteed to automatically reach next year’s tournament in Switzerland.

And the defending champions hope to outwit their rivals and secure a spot with the aim of winning back-to-back Euros trophies.

The Lionesses chief, 54, said: “France have a very good squad and they showed their qualities by reaching the Nations League final.

“I’m really excited to play against France because we haven’t faced them during my time as England head coach, so I’m really looking forward to those two games.

“It’s a tough draw but it is a really exciting draw.”

Today’s draw included 51 national sides divided into three different leagues – A, B, and C.

The outcome of the 2023-24 Women’s Nations League fixtures decided which league Wiegman’s aces would be in with the team among sixteen sides in League A.

And they were drawn in the third group of League A.

Wiegman added: “Of course, we all went into the draw knowing that Sweden – one of the top countries – would be in Pot 3 because of their Nations League performance in 2023.

“With France, Sweden, and the Republic of Ireland in our group, it will be very competitive.

“It’s exciting and now we just have to show up and perform.

“For the fans and for football, it is really good because it will be so competitive.”

Qualifiers for next summer’s Euros will take place between April and July.

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They begin two months after England’s first international camp this year with team thrashing Austria 7-2 and Italy 5-1 in friendly fixtures.  

Wiegman said: “I was excited to get the team together again in February and we were able to move forward quickly after our disappointment in December.

“The team showed who we are and where we want to go.

“Everyone wanted to make a good start and show themselves as an individual and as a team ahead of the qualifiers.

“The camp gave us confidence that we are in a good place and now we look forward to seeing who we will face in the first two games in April.”

England face a stern test from France and Sweden who are among the top five sides in the world.

Like Wiegman, Renard, 55, has led two different national teams to major international tournament triumphs.

He guided Zambia and the Ivory Coast to glory in the men’s Africa Cup of Nations in 2012 and 2015

Under the France-born coach, Les Bleues have won six and drawn one of their last eight international duels since reaching the World Cup quarter-finals last August.

Since then, the only defeat for the third best side on the planet has come against World Cup champions Spain in the Women’s Nations League final.

Meanwhile Sweden, ranked fifth and one place below England in Fifa’s rankings, have lost three games since finishing third in the Women’s World Cup.

And two of those defeats have come against Spain. Qualifiers to determine which 15 teams will join hosts Switzerland in the contest will take place between April and July.

Sweden are likely to be formidable opponents for England with several past and present WSL stars having featured for the team in the Women's Nations League

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Sweden are likely to be formidable opponents for England with several past and present WSL stars having featured for the team in the Women’s Nations LeagueCredit: Getty

Should the Lionesses finish third or fourth in their group they still have a chance to make it to the Euros via a play-off route.

Sides that end up in third and fourth place in the League A groups automatically enter the play-offs, along the top three teams in each League B group.

This means England could finish bottom and still be in with a chance of qualifying.

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