The opening day of the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Germany could hardly have been scripted better. In Bochum and Bielefeld Groups A and B will set the ball rolling, with three title contenders in action right away in Germany, Korea DPR and Brazil.
In Group A Germany commence their campaign against Costa Rica. The host nation are contesting their fifth FIFA U-20 World Cup, while the central Americans are making their tournament bow. It is not the first meeting between the two teams at youth level, however.
Germany secured a comfortable 5-0 win at the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup New Zealand 2008 thanks to goals by Lynn Mester, Dzsenifer Marozsan (2), Turid Knaak and Tabea Kemme. The latter three are all members of the current U-20 squad.
The big game
Brazil-Korea DPR, Bielefeld, Tuesday 13 July, 11.30 (local time)
Korea DPR have reached the Final of last two editions of the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup and took the trophy in superb style in 2006. The North Koreans won all their games four years ago in Russia, scoring 18 goals and conceding just one. In 2008 they almost retained their title before succumbing to the USA in the decider.
Tuesday's Group B game pits the creativity and technique of Brazil against the discipline of a compact and extremely effective Korea DPR unit in a repeat of the opening Group D fixture in Chile two years ago. Brazil won that one 3-2, gaining revenge for a 1-0 semi-final defeat against the same opposition in 2006.
The other games
In the second Group B fixture FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup novices Sweden take on New Zealand in another first in the women's game. The Swedes, with a strong track record at senior level, will provide stiff opposition for the Kiwis, who for their part, have a disappointing track record in their opening match, losing 3-0 to Australia in the first round in 2006, before going down 3-2 to Nigeria two years later.
The Oceania champions breezed through their regional qualifiers, however, and were never in danger against the Cook Islands, Tonga and American Samoa, winning all three games without conceding a goal. And after their early exit in 2008, they are understandably keen to demonstrate the continuous improvement in the quality of the women's game there. "We're definitely coming together as a team and I think we'll do well at the World Cup," key striker Rosie White told FIFA.com.
"We've set our sights high for this tournament. The opening game is very important and could go some way to deciding the outcome of the group. We are therefore focusing totally on Brazil. Things are looking good on the selection front, as we have no injuries to report. Bielefeld and the stadium is very impressive," Choe Kwang-Sok (Korea DPR coach)