One of the best things about international football tournaments is getting to watch players you either have never watched, or don’t get to watch too often.
Unless it’s your job, or you’re an absolute die-hard, you can’t watch every game of football, it’s simply not possible.
That means that international tournaments are a great opportunity to discover new players you will want to keep an eye on in the future.
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In this list, we will take you through eight rising stars to watch during Euro 2022. We decided to make it 22 or younger, and whilst we tried to keep it to one player per team, as you will see later, one country made us bend the rule. (This was originally meant to be an seven-player list!)
- Who is competing at Euro 2022? A breakdown of all 16 teams involved
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- Where is Euro 2022 taking place? Format, fixtures and schedule
Lauren Hemp – Forward (England)
Hemp is not just England’s best young player, she might just be the best outright player available for Sarina Wiegman.
If you polled some of the world’s best defenders who they would least like to see running at them, you can bet a fair a few of them would pick Hemp. When she picks up the ball and starts running on the left wing there aren’t many who can keep up with her blistering pace and mesmeric close-control. Throw in a wand of a left foot and an always-increasing eye for goal and you can see why opposing managers will be losing sleep over Hemp.
Julie Blakstad – Midfielder (Norway)
From one Manchester City team-mate to another. It’s probably fair to say that before her arrival to the WSL in January, most fans outside of Norway hadn’t seen her play. Her first goal for the team in April was one hell of an announcement.
Like Hemp, Blakstad is blessed with a wonderful left-foot but she prefers to play through the middle as a creative midfield. Having said that, given the strength of City’s squad she has struggled for playing time.
When watching Norway games though you’ll need to cast your eyes a bit further back on the pitch to find Blakstad. Due to a lack of alternative options, Blakstad will play at left-back for her country. She’s not a natural there but she’s shown more than enough to earn the confidence of head coach Martin Sjogren.
Melvine Malard – Forward (France)
Full disclosure, we were this close (gestures a tiny amount) to putting Selma Bacha in here for France. The full-back was superb for Lyon, shining in the Champions League with a masterful performance. However it feels like Corinne Diacre is going to use Sakina Karchaoui there instead.
So rather than putting a left-back who might not play often, we put in her club team-mate who is a forward who might not play often!
Our reasoning is that Malard will probably have more of an impact on the French team off the bench then Bacha will.
Another product of the famed Lyon academy, Malard has been playing out wide recently and has become a first-team regular for the French giants. One of Malard’s greatest strengths is her positional intelligence. Having played as a striker a lot when younger, Malard understands when to make runs behind the defender and into the box. Don’t be surprised to suddenly see her pop up at the right time late in games to score a crucial goal.
Kathrine Kuhl – Midfielder (Denmark)
If you’re named Player of the Match in a cup final, that’s probably a pretty safe bet that you’re a pretty special talent. Kathrine Kuhl made her debut for FC Nordsjaelland at the age of 16, and now 19, she will be a key player for her country in this Euros.
A sound technical midfielder, Kuhl will most likely start as one of the two central midfielders in head coach Lars Sondergaard’s 3-4-2-1, although at times she has been used as one of the wide attackers. Because she has spent all her career in Denmark thus far, she represents a true exciting unknown for most fans. A strong tournament could accelerate her arrival into one of Europe’s top leagues.
Jule Brand – Forward (Germany)
You remember when we talked about Hemp’s close control and pace combination above? Yeah, we could use a lot of the same descriptions when talking about Brand. Just ask Arsenal’s backline after Hoffenheim’s win over them in the Champions League this season.
Brand’s Germany debut could safely be filed under the ‘stuff of dreams’ category, having scored and assisted in under five minutes. The way her pace can open up the pitch will be crucial to the way Germany want to play in the tournament. She’s already agreed a move to German giants Wolfsburg after impressing for Hoffenheim.
Lena Oberdorf – Defender/Midfielder (Germany)
Anchor. Brick wall. Powerhouse. It doesn’t really matter how you describe Oberdorf, there’s no denying that she is one of the best, if not the best, holding midfielder in the world. Oberdorf reads the game like a 35-year-old, not a 20-year-old, and she has an astonishing knack for knowing exactly when to step in to make an interception or tackle.
Although she plays in a pivot for club team Wolfsburg, Oberdorf will be the anchor in Germany’s 4-3-3, tasked with protecting the weakest part of the team, the back line. Despite her age, she already has the 10th highest number of caps in Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s squad. She may not be the flashiest in terms of playing style, but the way she plays the game makes her must see viewing. Bundesliga fans can't wait to see her go up against new Bayern Munich signing Georgia Stanway next season.
And yes, Germany is the team with two players, we just couldn’t leave either of this pair out.
Esmee Brugts – Forward (Netherlands)
One of the youngest players in the tournament, Brugts is going to be a real threat coming off the bench for the Netherlands. In the last 20 or 30 minutes of games she is going to be one of the last people opposition defenders are going to want to see.
Brugts is a classic inverted left-winger who loves to come back on to her right foot to either shoot or cross. And despite being relatively new to international football - she made her debut in February - she is not afraid at bringing out her repertoire of tricks to help her beat opposing full-backs. In April, she scored her first goal for the team.
Ultimately, she’s still going to be behind Victoria Pelova in the pecking order on the left-wing, but if Mark Parsons wants to change a game, you better believe he’ll look to Brugts.
Hanna Bennison – Midfielder (Sweden)
Bennison is a player whose arrival at the top of the game has long been expected. She has always been considered one of the best prospects in Sweden and she made her club debut at 15, and then international debut at 17.
An attacking central midfielder, Bennison became Everton’s record transfer in 2021 when she agreed a four-year deal and she has demonstrated her incredible technique, whether it’s playing a perfect pass or pinging one into the corner.
Bennison’s awareness and confidence on the pitch is remarkable, she looks as if she’s been playing professionally for 20 years. She instils a sense of calm in her team-mates, not an easy feat when you consider this Sweden squad has give players with over 100 caps. In a perfect metaphor of the baton being handed over, she will line up alongside Sweden’s legendary captain Caroline Seger (229 caps) in the midfield.
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