Germany have yet to miss an edition of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, and won the trophy in 2004. The victorious team in Thailand was spearheaded by the likes of Simone Laudehr and Melanie Behringer, who subsequently went on to establish themselves in the senior side. Otherwise, Germany have finished third on two occasions, most recently at Chile 2008, and reached the quarter-finals once. The Germans host this year’s FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, another reason for the home team to be brimming with ambition and the determination to go all the way.
"Germany teams are always among the favourites, but the main thing for us is that this is a home World Cup, so it’s a chance to lay out our credentials in front of big crowds. We have a good team and we certainly aim to stay in the tournament right to the end, although we don’t sense any pressure to win the trophy,” observed Germany coach Maren Meinert.
Meinert said her team had great respect but no fear of group rivals Costa Rica, France and Colombia. "Yes, we’re extremely respectful of our opponents. We’re very pleased with the group line-up, we’re making no secret of that. We know Costa Rica beat Canada, but we also know that in normal circumstances we can and must win our first two matches,” Meinert told FIFA.com.
The Germans open their Group A campaign against Costa Rica on Tuesday in Bochum. "We respect what Costa Rica achieved in qualifying. We’ll have to give it everything in the first match. Costa Rica aren’t here to hand us the points for nothing."
Meinert’s team are next in action on Friday against Colombia, again in Bochum. The Germany juniors complete their group programme against France on 20 July in Augsburg. "We’re really looking forward to the big game against the French in Augsburg. France are the reigning U-19 European champions, so it should be an outstanding game.”
No undue pressure
Germany can look forward to enthusiastic support from a capacity crowd in their opening match. "You sometimes wonder whether a full house might cramp your style rather than inspire. We hope we’ve prepared the team so well that they’re inspired, and that we take our impetus from the crowd." Germany’s meeting with France is also already sold out.
Even though the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup is taking place on German soil, Meinert does not feel she and her players are under any more pressure to succeed than normal. "We actually benefited from setting ourselves ambitious targets at previous World Cups, because we’re determined for our teams to succeed. The only difference, given we’re playing in Germany, is that if we genuinely perform badly, we’ll hear all about it. If you’re away from home there are ways of getting round that. But the advantages far outweigh the negatives. It's a huge chance to show what we can do in front of our home crowd. That's very special for my players."