Under-17 teams from England, France and Germany descended on the Algarve between 17-20 February in order to step-up their qualifying hopes for the FIFA U-17 World Cup Korea 2007 . The European elite rounds begin in March, with all four teams facing tough tests even to make it to the UEFA U-17 Championship which takes place in Belgium between 2-13 May.
In a few short weeks time, Portugal play host a group which include Russia, Northern Ireland and Iceland, while Germany also welcome the Republic of Ireland, Greece and Scotland. England travel to Bosnia to try and qualify from a group which includes Serbia and Azerbaijan, while France entertain Finland, Hungary and Norway.
Therefore the Algarve Tournament was a tremendous opportunity for the four European countries to test themselves against each other. The opening matches pitted the hosts, and 15-time winners of the event against England, while current holders France met Germany.
Both England and Germany upset the formbook on the opening day. In Guia, Victor Moses scored the only goal of the game for England against Portugal, with an audacious backheel from 12 yards direct from a corner, while in Ferreiras, a brace from Hertha Berlin's Sascha Bigalke earned Paul Schomann's side a 2-0 victory over France, the highest ranked team in the competition.
Les Bleuettes restored some pride with a 1-1 draw in their next match against England in Silves. Arsenal youngster Rhys Murphy broke the deadlock in the 23rd minute from the penalty spot, but Thibault Borgeouis equalized six minutes after the restart. It was the same scoreline in Lagos where Henning Sauerbier cancelled out Rui Ferreira's early goal to set up a decisive match between England and Germany.
England returned to Guia for the final match, but the familiar surroundings from their first game did not prove to be advantageous. Despite taking the lead in the 12th minute through Jonathan Franks, a tremendous second half comeback from Germany saw them run out 3-1 winners.
Marvin Knoll another Hertha Berlin restored parity in the 51st minute, while Sauerbier scored his second of the tournament five minutes later. The Germans' advantage was doubled 18 minutes from time when Bigalke netted a penalty to ensure that he finished as the tournament's top scorer.
"Even though the pitch was difficult to play on, this was our best performance," said Schomann. "It was a mixture of the first and second matches, combining all the good aspects of both. We played some excellent attacking football. We started better than England, then we had some problems during which we conceded. In the second half we concentrated and controlled the match, so the goals were the logical consequence."
However, England coach John Peacock insisted that the defeat served as a learning curve for him and his players. "What we must do is defend better as a team and as a unit," he said. "Individual mistakes will happen at any level, I'm not blaming the back four. But we must do better with things like set-pieces and tracking runners. The players have given me something to think about. They have also played three games in four days, which is an excellent experience for us all."
In the final game of the competition, France defeated Portugal 2-1, thanks to a goal in each half from Henri Saivet and Yann M'vila before Sporting's Wilson Eduardo netted a consolation goal.