Coach Stefan Freund says the mood in the Germany U-17 camp is one of positive tension with no trace of nerves in the last few hours of preparation for the FIFA U-17 World Cup. A win in the opening Group E encounter against Ecuador in Queretaro would undoubtedly ease any lingering anxieties, although the same equally applies to Ecuador, themselves aiming at a minimum target of the last sixteen in their third appearance at the junior global showdown.
These nations have only ever met once in their respective footballing histories, although it is a match the German fans remember with great fondness. On 20 June 2006, the hosts beat a powerful Ecuador 3-0 at the FIFA World Cup™, securing top spot in their group.
The second encounter is another group fixture, and the meeting between the respective junior teams is likely to be a tight affair. Both the Germans and the Ecuadorians looked highly convincing in qualifying. The Europeans were the beaten finalists at the UEFA U-17 EURO, while La Tricolor thrilled their home crowd at the South American U-17 Championship with victory over Argentina in the winner-takes-all meeting for a place at the world finals.
"Ecuador won their place here in the traditionally hotly-contested South American qualifying competition. In any case, there are no easy opponents at a World Cup. It's an honour for us to be playing teams from Central America, South America and Africa. We really are up against the best in the world," Germany coach Steffen Freund.
"We watched the draw live, and a lot of us said to ourselves: ‘Would you believe it – we play Germany in our opening match’, but all three of our opponents are difficult. We have a good balance in the team with a solid forward line, strong individual strikers and goalscoring midfielders," Ecuador midfielder Jose Francisco Cevallos.