Group B: New faces and old hands

The fact that Sweden are contesting the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup for the first time in Germany comes as something of a surprise, given the Swedes have been one of the most formidable forces in the women’s game for many years. Coach Calle Barrling’s debutants are aiming for one of the top two places in Group B, where they meet three seasoned campaigners in Brazil, battling for the U-20 crown for the fifth time, and three-time participants Korea DPR and New Zealand.

Korea DPR must be considered among the contenders this time round, having reached the final in the last two editions of the tournament. They claimed the trophy in Russia on their FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup debut in 2006 and finished runners-up to the USA two years later in Chile.

Meanwhile, the Brazilian camp has been carefully downplaying their team’s chances in the build-up to the finals, but most observers reckon they too could be potential winners. As for New Zealand, their excellent showings at the two FIFA junior tournaments in 2008 will see them arrive in confident mood. At the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2008 on home soil, the Kiwis beat Colombia 3-1 to register a first-ever victory at a FIFA women’s finals.

The teams in Group B
Korea DPR
New Zealand

The matches (all kick-offs in local time)
Brazil-Korea DPR, Bielefeld, 13 July, 11.30
Sweden-New Zealand, Bielefeld, 13 July, 14.30
Brazil-Sweden, Bielefeld, 16 July, 15.00
Korea DPR-New Zealand, Bielefeld, 16 July, 18.00
New Zealand-Brazil, Dresden, 20 July, 14.30
Korea DPR-Sweden, Augsburg, 20 July, 14.30

How they qualified
Brazil: As Canarinhas beat Colombia 2-0 in the final of the South American U-20 Championship.
Korea DPR: Third at the finals of the Asian U-19 Championship.
Sweden: Finalists at the UEFA Women's U-19 Championship.
New Zealand: The Kiwis comfortably overcame American Samoa, the Cook Islands and Tonga at the OFC U-20 Women’s Championship.

The location
The stadium in Bielefeld, home to German Bundesliga 2 outfit Arminia Bielefeld, boasts a capacity of 23,043, thus offering a perfect setting for the U-20 tournament. Bielefeld is also the venue for the final and the third-place play-off.

Bielefeld (‘Biliuelde’ in early records) was founded in 1214 by Count Hermann IV of Ravensberg. The Count’s intention was to secure his sovereignty, and boost his own commercial and financial standing by turning Bielefeld into a mercantile centre. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, the textile industry dominated the town’s economic life: in 1870, 11 per cent of all Germany’s spindles and looms were in Bielefeld. Later, a growing engineering sector came to characterise the region. Bielefeld remains Germany’s fifth-biggest mechanical engineering centre. The city’s most famous landmark and historical building is Sparrenburg Castle with its 37-metre tower.

The crunch match
Brazil-Korea DPR, Bielefeld, 13 July, 11.30
The very first matchday features a re-run of the 2006 semi-final, and a group stage fixture in 2008. In Russia, the Brazilians fell 1-0 to Korea DPR, but As Canarinhas took revenge in Chile with a 3-2 win.

The opening gambit
"We’ve landed in a very tricky group. We start against Korea DPR, who were U-17 world champions, the Swedes, one of the acknowledged powers in women’s football and the European Championship runners-up, and New Zealand, who have come on in leaps and bounds since the tournament in 2008. We know it’s going to be hard, but I still believe Brazil are capable of surprising a few people here," Marcos Gaspar, Brazil coach.