Euros Preview: Finland

by Jean-Pierre Thiesset (30/6/22).

Above: Finland celebrate qualifying for the European Championships. Photo: Emmi Korhonen.

The Finland women’s national football team is known or nicknamed as the “Boreal Owls” (Helmarit in Finnish). They are currently 28th in FIFA’s Women’s World Ranking list.

The Squad:

Goalkeepers: Katriina Talaslahti, Anna Tamminen, Tinja-Riikka Korpela.

Defenders: Elli Pikkujämsä, Tuija Hyyrynen, Emma Koivisto, Anna Auvinen, Nora Heroum, Natalia Kuikka, Anna Westerlund.

Midfielders: Ria Öling, Olga Ahtinen, Juliette Kemppi, Emmi Alanen, Jenny Danielsson, Essi Sainio, Eveliina Summanen.

Forwards: Adelina Engman, Heidi Kollanen, Sanni Franssi, Linda Sällström, Amanda Rantanen, Jutta Rantala.

The Head Coach:

Above: Anna Signuel, Finland’s head coach pictured during her time in charge of Scotland’s national team. Photo: Wikipedia.

Anna Signeul, 61, from Sweden has been Finland’s head coach since 2017. Her 20-year club career saw her make 240 appearances in the Damallsvenskan, but although called up for several Swedish national squads, never earned an international cap. Signuel began coaching in 1981 whilst playing at IK Brage. She additionally went on to coach Strömsbro IF (twice), IK Sätra, and Tyresö FF at club level. Between 1994 and 2006, Signuel took charge of Sweden’s U16 and U18 squads before being appointed as Scotland’s head coach in 2005 where she remained for 12 years.

She had great success with the Scots, taking them to the play-offs for Euro 2009 and qualification for Euro 2017. During her spell in charge, which also saw Signuel take responsibility for the development of the women’s game at all levels, Scotland were ranked 20th in the world, their highest ever standing. She left to take over as Finland’s head coach in 2017.

Euros History:

Above: The Finland team that made the semi-finals at the 2005 European Championships. Photo: Alamy/Action Images.

Three previous appearances in Euro: 2005, 2009, and 2013. Their best result was a semi-final place in 2005.

Qualifying:

Finland topped Group E with seven wins and a draw. The only game they failed to win was a 1-1 draw against qualifying rivals Portugal. They also earned two 1-0 victories over Scotland en route.

Strengths:

Finland’s players have nothing to lose and will fight as a team. They have always had an excellent team spirit. There are few star players, but Finland plays very uniformly and in an organized way, which is typical of all Finnish national teams in different sports. There are also a lot of experienced players who have almost all known each other for a long time.

Development Areas:

Most players have little international experience at the highest level. Only a few players played in one of the strongest championships in Europe. Most of the players play in Sweden, a few in England and only two players play in Finnish league.

Key Players:

Above: Finland’s former Chelsea player Adelina Engman. Photo: Suomen Palloiitto.

Adelina Engman, Forward, 27 years old, Hammarby IF, Sweden. Ten goals in 77 national team games, Engman spent two years in the FAWSL with Chelsea where she scored three goals in 13 games before departing for Montpellier.

Linda Sällström: Forward, 33 years old, Vittsjö GIK, Sweden, 12 goals. 115 games played in Finnish National team. She played 12 games in D1 Arkema in France’s top league with Paris FC in 2019/20 and scored 4 goals.

Ria Öling: Midfielder, 27 years old, FC Rosengård, Sweden, 57 games played in Finnish National team.

Anna Westerlund: Defender, 33 years old, Åland United, Finland, 141 games played in Finnish National team, this is more than any Finnish football player in history.

Natalia Kuikka: Defender, 26 years old, Portland Thorns FC, USA, 67 games played for the Finnish National team.

One To Watch:

Above: Katriina Talaslahti preventing Ada Hegerberg scoring for Olympique Lyonnais at Fleury. Photo: Jean-Pierre Thiesset for Impetus.

Katriina Talaslahti, 21 years old, with one cap so far, is a hugely promising young goalkeeper. Talaslahti played with Bayern München from 2017-2019 before joining Olympique Lyonnais in 2019. She moved on to Fleury in 2021 where she established herself as their as number one goalkeeper. With Fleury this season, Talaslahti kept 11 clean sheets in France’s top flight D1 Arkema as the team finished fourth as well as making the semi-finals in France Cup against Paris Saint-Germain.

Speaking exclusively to me, just over a week ago, a very calm Talaslahti said: “I feel good and excited, and I think it will be a very interesting trip and tournament. You never know what is going to happen in a tournament and it is very nice to be in the group. I hope I will play in the Euros, and I will train hard to be a starter. We are in a hard group, and it will be difficult, but we will play our best and see what is comes.”

The young Finnish goalkeeper is ready to take the starting position during the Euros if head coach Anna Signuel gives it to her.

Prediction:

Finland are in a very difficult group with Germany (4th FIFA ranking), Spain (7th FIFA ranking), and Denmark (15th FIFA ranking). I do not think that they could do better than third and for that they will have to provide an outstanding performance against Denmark. It is difficult but it is possible as Katriina Talaslahti, Finland’s goalkeeper, used to say.

Group Fixtures:

8th July: Spain, 5pm, Stadium MK, Milton Keynes.

12th July: Denmark, 5pm, Stadium MK, Milton Keynes.

16th July: Germany, 8pm, Stadium MK, Milton Keynes.

Impetus is previewing a different nation every day between now and the start of the European Championships. Click below to read the previously published articles:

FRANCE – by Jean-Pierre Thiesset: https://impetusfootball.org/2022/06/25/euros-preview-france/

AUSTRIA – by Jorge Ceron: https://impetusfootball.org/2022/06/26/euros-preview-austria/

GERMANY – by Johnathan Stack: https://impetusfootball.org/2022/06/27/euros-preview-germany/- https://impetusfootball.org/2022/06/27/euros-preview-germany/

ICELAND – by Kris Goman: https://impetusfootball.org/2022/06/28/euros-preview-iceland/

SPAIN – by Nathan Edwards: https://impetusfootball.org/2022/06/29/euros-preview-spain/

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